FRANCE, MERVIN BAIR (31 Mar. 1901-16 Feb. 1970) was a Cleveland banker and civic leader who orchestrated the unification of the Society for Savings into Society National Bank and helped found SOCIETY CORPORATION, a bank holding company.

Born in Harlem Springs, Ohio to William and Elizabeth (Atwell) France, Mervin was raised in Alliance and graduated from Alliance High School. From 1920-23 he attended Ohio State University, leaving in his senior year due to a family illness.

In 1925 France sold bonds for a Canton investment firm. In 1927 he became the Ohio representative of Pittsburgh's Union Trust Company, making his office in Cleveland.

In 1934 France joined the Society for Savings as assistant vice president and assistant secretary in charge of the investment and collateral loan departments. He advanced to bank vice president in 1936, first vice president in 1941, and president in 1947, making him one of the youngest top bank executives in the nation.

As president France oversaw Society's restructuring from a mutual savings and loan into a nationally chartered bank. He presided over the transformation of the company into the parent holding company, Society Corp., and the birth of its wholly owned banking subsidiary, the Society National Bank, of which he was co-founder and president in 1956 (resigned 1968). France was SNB chairman from 1968-69 and, in January 1970, he was appointed an honorary director.

France was a director of several companies and a member of numerous civic and social organizations.

France married Berenice Renkert on 12 Oct. 1927. They had two children, William and Elizabeth. France is buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.

Mervin B. France Papers, WRHS.

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