An important figure in American banking in the first part of the 20th century. When the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck, he salvaged $1 million in gold and currency from the Bank of Italy and buried it in his backyard. He set up a tent on a waterfront pier and made loans while many of his competitors were still attempting to dig out their funds. In 1909, he went on to create the first statewide banking network in the United States, in California. He focused his efforts on the banking needs of small investors and businesses. He purchased banks, including New York’s Bank of America, which he used to create his financial empire. When he died in 1949, Bank of America had 493 branches and more assets than any other commercial bank in the world.