STOCKTON — Douglass M. Eberhardt, who brought modern technology to the Bank of Stockton and was known for his loyalty, generosity and love of the outdoors, died early Thursday morning at St. Joseph’s Medical Center following a brief illness.

Eberhardt, 80, is survived by Margaret Mell, his wife of 57 years, along with children Douglass M. Eberhardt II and Joan Mell Eberhardt Snider, and a large extended family. Funeral arrangements are pending.

The Eberhardt family has been tied to the Bank of Stockton since the bank hired Roman Leslie Eberhardt — Douglass’ father — in 1927.

R.L. Eberhardt eventually became the bank’s president, and when his health was failing, the reins were handed to Douglass’ older brother, Bob, in 1963.

When Bob died unexpectedly during a European hunting trip with Douglass in 1994, Douglass replaced him as president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board. Eberhardt was honored in 2007 as Stocktonian of the Year.

“He was a perfectionist, a brilliant numbers man who was a traditional banker that came to work every day in a suit and (bow) tie,” said Angela Brusa, Bank of Stockton’s marketing director and a bank employee for 35 years. “There are a lot of Bank of Stockton employees with broken hearts today.”

The Bank of Stockton’s chief financial officer, John Dentoni, added, “In my whole banking career, going on 30 years, I only worked for him. All I know about banking I learned from him. He was pretty much like a father to me.”

Eberhardt was a technology maven who led the Bank of Stockton to be the first bank west of the Mississippi River to establish internet banking.

“He loved technology,” Dentoni said. “When it came to banking and technology, he wanted to be the first. He just grabbed onto it with a passion. Any new technology that came out, he had to have it.”

Douglass Eberhardt stepped down as president in 2015 but remained the Bank of Stockton’s CEO and chairman of the board until his death. Eberhardt’s son, Douglass M. Eberhardt II, replaced his father as president in 2015.

“My dad was one of the smartest men I’ve ever known,” Douglass Eberhardt II said Thursday. “He was an innovator in banking, he was generous to the community and always wanted what was best for our customers. My dad loved being at the bank every day, but over the past year, his health issues kept him away more than he liked. The bank will continue with business as usual, but his presence will be greatly missed, not to mention the personal loss to me and my family.”

The Bank of Stockton’s history is tied to two old Stockton families. Founded in 1867 by R.E. Wilhoit, it remained in the family’s hands well into the 20th century.

The transition to the Eberhardts began in 1949 when Roman Eberhardt was elected president. According to Douglass Wilhoit, the bank’s transition from the Wilhoits to the Eberhardts followed, amicably, in the ensuing years.

“It was a very friendly family takeover of the Bank of Stockton,” Wilhoit, CEO of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday. “We were like family, but not blood-related. (Douglass Eberhardt) carried on the Eberhardt tradition very, very well.”

Eberhardt attended Victory School, Stockton High School, Stockton College and University of the Pacific, graduating with a degree in business administration in 1959. Pacific’s Eberhardt School of Business was named after the family 21 years ago. Eberhardt served for more than a decade on Pacific’s Board of Regents in the 2000s and 2010s.

Kevin Huber, Pacific's current Board of Regents chairman, spoke of Eberhardt’s generosity in remembering his friend Thursday. According to Huber, Eberhardt contributed $1 million to establish Pacific’s Student Investment Fund in 2007 because he wanted to “give students hands-on experience making investment decisions and learning about fiscal management.” The fund today is worth $3.7 million, Huber said.

Tom Shaffer, a friend and former executive vice president of the bank, said Eberhardt’s generosity extended beyond the university.

“The bank has an airplane,” Shaffer said. “If he found that a customer was ill or he could provide a service, he would let them use the plane to fly (for treatment). … He didn’t charge them anything, didn’t ask them anything. He just wanted to help.”

Stockton developer Fritz Grupe, who knew Eberhardt for more than 50 years, said he financed real-estate projects using the Bank of Stockton for 30 years because his friend excelled at “relationship banking” in a way that major banks don’t.

“There are some loans everyone wants to do because they’re very easy,” Grupe said. “There are some loans that are more difficult to do. That’s where you need relationship banking.”

An example, Grupe said, was the Bank of Stockton’s loyalty when he was developing Greenhorn Creek Golf Course & Resort in Angels Camp in 1996.

“A lot of people can finance a single-family home,” Grupe said. “Not very many can finance a golf course.”

Grupe said he will miss most of all a friend he enjoyed drinking wine with and trading barbs with during hunting trips.

“It got to be a two-way needle,” Grupe said of the mutual mockery. “He loved to tease.”

Haggin Museum CEO Tod Ruhstaller spoke of a friend who loved showing off his collection of toy soldiers.

“One time in the middle of the workday he said, ‘Tod, I want you to come by and see my collection,’ ” Ruhstaller recalled. “It was jammed with toy soldiers from all these different eras. He had the means to collect the best. It was a pursuit he developed as a kid and one of his hobbies.”

Ruhstaller struggled to maintain his composure.

“If he touched me in this manner he had to have touched so many other people in the same way,” Ruhstaller said. “He had that ability. He was just one of the nicest gentlemen I’ve ever known. I was fortunate to know him.”

Contact reporter Roger Phillips at (209) 546-8299 or rphillips@recordnet.com. Follow him on Twitter @rphillipsblog.