ST. LOUIS — Benjamin Edwards III, who presided over A.G. Edwards as it grew from a St. Louis regional brokerage firm into one of the largest in the nation, died Monday of prostate cancer.
Edwards, 77, of St. Louis, died at a second home in Naples, Fla., his son Benjamin "Tad" Edwards IV said.
Edwards was the great-grandson of the company's founder, Albert Gallatin Edwards, a former assistant secretary of the treasury under Abraham Lincoln who started the firm in 1887.
It was Benjamin Edwards III, who joined the firm in 1956, who presided over its greatest period of growth. He became managing partner a decade later and president in 1967.
Under Edwards' leadership, A.G. Edwards grew from 44 offices with 300 financial consultants in 1965 to nearly 700 offices and 7,000 financial consultants by the time he retired in 2001.
Wachovia Corp. acquired A.G. Edwards for $6.8 billion in 2007. The combined brokerage unit, Wachovia Securities, became the second-largest American retail brokerage by number of brokers.
Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia Corp. late last year.
During his career, Edwards was also a chairman of what is now known as the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and served on the board of the New York Stock Exchange.
In St. Louis, he was active in the United Way and other civic groups and helped lead the St. Louis School District through its desegregation program.
"He had an enormous amount of goodwill," said William Danforth, retired chancellor at Washington University, who worked with Edwards on school desegregation. "He wanted to do the right thing for St. Louis and its institutions."
Besides his son, Tad Edwards, other survivors include his wife of nearly 56 years, Joan Moberly Edwards; another son; two daughters; two sisters; and 11 grandchildren.