Published Nov. 11, 2015
Businessman and attorney James Chris “Jim” Leventis, who helped found First Community Bank, died Monday at age 77 following a lengthy bout with Parkinson’s disease.
In 1995, Leventis and Mike Crapps established First Community aiming to meet the financial needs of local businesses they believed were underserved by larger banks.
At the end of the third quarter of this year, First Community reported total assets of $852.2 million and deposits of $704.3 million.
Leventis, who has a conference room at First Community’s Lady Street branch named in his honor, retired in 2009 as chairman emeritus.
"I have enjoyed my work as chairman and being involved as the organization has grown to reach $650 million in assets,” Leventis said when he retired. “More importantly, First Community's commitment to quality and integrity has been fundamental to its success.”
A Columbia native, Leventis graduated from Dreher High School where he played on the 1956 state championship basketball team, served as student body president, and represented the school as governor of Boys’ State.
A member of the Class of 1960, Leventis received both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of South Carolina where he was elected student body president.
Following law school, Leventis went to work as a commercial lender with Citibank in New York, where he met and married Laura Todd of Los Angeles, who survives. The couple moved from New York to Chicago where Leventis became the vice president and general manager of Genway Corporation.
Leventis returned to Columbia in 1974 to set up his law practice, but continued to be involved in banking, serving as president and chairman of Republic Bank.
Leventis was involved in a number of civic activities that included the 2002 founding of the City Center Partnership, a private, non-profit organization provides public space management, economic development, marketing services, and public advocacy for downtown Columbia.
Additionally, he served as member and chairman of the Richland County Council, president of the USC Alumni Association, president of the Columbia Rotary Club, chairman of the Greater Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, and member of the Richland One school board.
His resume also lists a run for U.S. Congress in 1988.
Leventis’ awards and recognitions included membership in the Richland One Hall of Fame (2011); the Richland County Bar Association’s Matthew J. Perry Civility Award (2004); the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year (1988); and the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (1985).
Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Main Street Sanctuary at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 1931 Sumter St. Visitation will be followed by a Trisagion service from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church with interment at Greenlawn Memorial Park.
Memorials may be made to Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 1931 Sumter St., Columbia, SC 29201; Indian Waters Council of the Boy Scouts of America at www.indianwaters.org; or the Columbia Parkinson's Support Group at www.columbiaparkinsonsupportgroup.org.
Dunbar Funeral Home on Devine Street is handling arrangements.