Charles Cawley, who founded and built MBNA into a credit card giant and who donated millions to philanthropic causes in Delaware and beyond, died November 18 2015. He was 74.
Born in Massachusetts and raised in New Jersey, Cawley transformed Maryland National Bank's small credit card unit into a multi-national corporation that grew to become Delaware's largest private employer before it was sold to Bank of America in 2006 for $36 billion.
A graduate of Georgetown University, Cawley got his start in consumer credit in 1972 when he was hired to run Maryland National Bank's credit card unit in Baltimore. The bank in 1982 moved the unit to Delaware to take advantage of the strong economic incentives the state offered to banks and credit card companies.
Cawley's credit card unit began in a vacant A&P store in Ogletown and by 1985 employed 600 and had loans totaling $1 billion. Two years later, the unit had 1,000 workers and $2 billion in loans. In 1991, MBNA separated from Maryland National Bank and became an independent company.
Cawley retired in 2003 as president and chief executive officer, and he and his wife Julie split their time between homes in Wilmington's Westover Hills neighborhood, Florida and Maine. They donated to numerous charities and causes, focusing largely on education, health care and the arts.
He is survived by his wife Julie, son Michael, daughter Maureen Rhodes and four grandchildren.