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Lee Martino

NEW POSITION: City president, Wachovia Bank, St. Petersburg

PREVIOUS POSITION: Director, Business Banking, First Union, St. Petersburg

With his new position with the newly merged Wachovia-First Union banks, Lee Martino is staying at home more.

No longer does he cover 128 offices in a five-county area. Now his focus is on client relationships, both individual and corporate, as the bank's city president for St. Petersburg. That's just 10 offices.

"As a 33-year resident of St. Petersburg, I'm really looking forward to developing relationships here," he said. Martino has lived in St. Petersburg since the ninth grade, when his father retired and moved from Washington.

He graduated from Northeast High School, attended St. Petersburg Junior College, then Florida State University, earning a bachelor's degree in business finance in 1976. He earned a degree from the Louisiana State University graduate school in banking in 1985.

His banking career has been in the St. Petersburg area, first with Community Bank in Seminole for three years, then with Flagship Banks for three years in St. Petersburg. He joined First Union in 1982 and has remained with that bank into its merger with Wachovia in 2001.

Wachovia has more than 600 branches and 800 ATMs in Florida. In its five-county Greater Tampa Bay region (Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk and Highland counties), the company has more than 125 branches and 150 ATMs.

The banking industry has always appealed to Martino, he said. "I love the different variety of people you get to deal with every day and watching their businesses grow. It's a lot of fun helping people be successful."

In his new position, Martino will work directly with customers at all levels, he said, from individuals to corporate, including a growing list of nonprofit clients. He also will promote the new technologies available through electronic banking, encouraging customers to use their computers and the Internet not only to pay bills, make deposits and check on balances, but to make their financial lives easier.

"For example, my son can call me from Gainesville and I can click off and move money from my account to his, and then go back on the phone," he said.

Martino's son, Michael, is a freshman at the University of Florida. Martino and his wife, Jackie, have another son, Daniel, at St. Petersburg Catholic High School.

"People can do their banking at 3 a.m.," he said, and electronic banking doesn't require a high level of computer knowledge. "It's all point-and-click. Otherwise, I'd never be able to do it," he said, laughing.

Another focus for Martino in his new position will be on helping clients plan for their retirement. "People my age now, 48, are just thinking about exit strategies and business succession," he said. "We do a tremendous amount of business planning with people."

In addition, Marino will oversee Wachovia's community development projects _ the programs the bank promotes with nonprofit organizations in the area such as United Way, March of Dimes and All Children's Hospital.

"I'll be the focal point to make sure this is all coordinated," he said.

Martino is a 1997 graduate of Leadership St. Pete and is active with a number of community nonprofit organizations. He is on the board of directors of St. Anthony's Hospital; the treasurer of the Bolesta Center for the Hearing Impaired; the treasurer of the R-Club, a nonprofit organization that provides after-hours care in some Pinellas County public schools; and a member of the Suncoasters.

_ FRED W. WRIGHT JR., Times correspondent

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