Artemas Bronson Thayer
Artemas Bronson Thayer
  • September 2, 1939 - December 24, 2016
  • Thonotosassa, Florida

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77, died December 24, 2016, at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD, following several years battling cancer. His wife of 47 years, Stella, was at his side and together with their daughter, Susannah, they had enjoyed the evening in good cheer amidst Christmas decorations.

Bronson was born September 2, 1939, in Mineola, NY, one day before the start of World War II. He was the second son born to Louise Bronson Little Thayer and Thomas Redmond Thayer. Edward, the eldest was born in 1930, and subsequently two more sons, Thomas (1943) and James (1944) were born.

His two family names, one from each side of the family, foretold his continuing interest and support for his family. A leading member in family events and celebrations, he would enthusiastically greet each member of his extended family, raptly listen to their latest accomplishments and express his ardent interest and approval of them. His eager and positive responses made each family member and friend feel that he cared about them most of all.

Bronson grew up in Hewlett Neck, Long Island, NY, and attended the Lawrence School, a local private school, where his positive demeanor and leadership skills were recognized by school awards at an early age. He attended Deerfield Academy where he was elected Class Secretary and graduated in 1957. He graduated from Harvard College in 1961 with a BA in History. During his time at Harvard, he served as president of the Spee Club, a Harvard final club.

While he was at Harvard, his family moved to Biltmore Forest, NC. He spent summers appreciating and hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains and along the Appalachian Trail. This interest continued throughout his life and he completed the 46 High Peaks in the Adirondacks in 2005, culminating with a climb of Whiteface Mountain accompanied by 65 friends in celebration. He also climbed the Haute Route from Verbier to Zermatt in the company of his brother, Tom Thayer and his wife, Alma.

Following college, Bronson joined the U.S. Marine Corps and was stationed at Parris Island, SC and Camp Lejeune, NC, for six months of active duty and six years of reserve obligation. He mustered out of the Marine Corps as a Sergeant.

He began a career on Wall Street with the firm of Dominick and Dominick where he was a Vice President from 1969 to 1972, and furthered his education by earning an MBA attending New York University Business school at night and later obtaining a CFA certification.

In 1969, Bronson married Stella Ferguson, whom he met while she was a student at Columbia Law School. After several years living in New York and Whitehouse, NJ, they moved to Tampa, FL, where he worked for Lykes Bros. Inc as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer from 1974 to 1983. He served on the Lykes Bros. Inc. Board of Directors for 43 years.He was active in the banking business with roles as Chairman of the Bank of Clearwater, Clearwater Beach Bank, and Northeast Bank, all of which merged into First Florida Banks. He served as Chairman of First Florida Banks from 1983-1992, and left when it merged with Barnett Bank.

In 1999, Bronson was the principal organizer along with other local investors of BayCities Bank, a community bank, based in Tampa with several branches in Tampa and St. Petersburg. At the time it was the largest capitalized start up bank In Florida. He was Chairman until 2014, when he resigned after having been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He continued his service on the Board and BayCities Bank successfully merged with HomeBancShares in 2015.

When he arrived in Florida in 1972, there was little awareness and involvement of students in Lacrosse, a sport for which he received a letter at Harvard. With other enthusiasts of Lacrosse, who had played at northern schools, they cobbled together games and established the Suncoast Lacrosse Tournament in 1973. Teams from northern schools were invited to compete in a round robin at USF and other venues. Games were popular and well attended. Bronson was a crease defenseman on the Tampa Bay Lacrosse Club playing against players 10 plus years his junior who were members of the USF Lacrosse Club. Forty years later the USF Lacrosse Club is still active and Lacrosse was introduced to local high schools and the sport is played across Florida.

With his wife, Stella, and joined by their daughter, Susannah, they participated in Two Rivers Hunt of which he became Master of Foxhounds. With great enthusiasm he embraced the early morning rides and camaraderie. He supported the Pony Club affiliated with the hunt and took a team of young riders to compete in Dublin, Ireland at the Royal Dublin Horse Show. The competitors were Ireland, England, Scotland, and Florida.

As a graduate of Harvard College, he remained dedicated and involved throughout his life. He was president of the Harvard Alumni Association in 1985-1986. He served on the Visiting Committee of the Graduate School of Education, the Committee on University Resources, as Gifts Co-chairman of the Class of 1961s 35th reunion and Leadership Gifts Co-chairman for the Class of 1961s 55th reunion. He was proud to have his daughter, Susannah, attend Harvard and graduate in 1995 with a BA in English and to captain the Radcliffe Lightweight Crew to a National Championship.

Hard to capture but memorable to experience was his enthusiasm for others with his caring and interest in their well being. He continually helped young people with advice and counsel on their education and careers. In the early 1970s along with local Harvard graduates they became involved with the Schools and Scholarships committee in mounting an outreach to interview and encourage applicants from the local high schools to apply for admission to Harvard. He continued interviews until recently. He was also an ardent supporter of the Harvard Club of Tampa Bay proudly having seen its ranks strengthen over the years. Exceptionally active in civic and business activities over the years, he served as President of the Florida Bankers Association, President of The Florida Chamber of Commerce, and