Stuart, James Jr.

James Jr. Stuart

A successful Lincoln businessman and member of a prominent local family died last week. Former National Bank of Commerce CEO James Stuart Jr. was found dead in Scottsdale, Ariz., the morning of Feb. 19.

A family spokesman did not say what caused the death. A Scottsdale, Ariz., police spokesperson could not be reached over the weekend.

Stuart was a native of Lincoln and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in Business Administration.

In 1969, Stuart joined Citibank in New York City and served as a loan officer until 1973, when he joined First Commerce Bancshares (then NBC Co.) as executive vice president. He was named president in 1976, chairman and CEO in 1978, and also became chairman and CEO of National Bank of Commerce in 1985. Stuart spent his life building the organization into an important business voice in Lincoln, friend and colleague Brad Korell said.

“He was a very successful banker,” said Korell, who worked with Stuart for more than 30 years. “I always felt that he was a visionary. He really did build one of the most successful and admired banking organizations in the Midwest.”

Stuart spent much of his career with First Commerce Bancshares, a $3 billion multi-bank holding company headquartered in Lincoln. First Commerce was sold to Wells Fargo in 2000.

He is a former member of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and was appointed by Gov. Dave Heineman to the board of the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 2008. Stuart was also involved with natural resources-related groups such as Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited and U.S. National Forest Foundation.

He served on the international board of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the boards of the University of Nebraska Foundation and Nebraska Wesleyan University.

According to Korell, Stuart was living in Scottsdale, overlooking his family's financial investments, as well as golfing and fishing.

He had three sons and four daughters.

A celebration of Stuart’s life will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, at First-Plymouth Congregational Church at 20th and D streets.

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