Gordon Heffern retired at the end of 1987 as Chairman of the Board of Society Corporation (now KeyCorp), a position he held since 1983. He joined Society National Bank in 1974 and subsequently was elected Vice President of the Corporation. He was named President and Chief Operating Officer of the Corporation in 1976, Chief Executive Officer of the Bank in 1981, and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation and the Bank in 1983. He stepped down as Chief Executive Officer of Society National Bank in 1985 and of Society Corporation in 1987.
Mr. Heffern established the first code of ethics for Society National Bank in 1974, which was used as a national model for all banks by the American Banking Association. “A code of ethics is only a piece of paper if not put into practice from the top CEO,” he told students at Mount Union College in a lecture in 2004. “A code of ethics must be a high priority in an organization.” He emphasized to students entering the business world that integrity and character are the most important principles in life.
Mr. Heffern began his banking career in July 1949, with the former Peoples National Bank of Charlottesville, Virginia, which later became Sovran Financial Corporation of Norfolk, Virginia, now BankAmerica, Charlotte, North Carolina. He was a security analyst and assistant to the bank president. Moving to Cleveland in 1951 as a security analyst and assistant to the senior investment officer of National City Bank, he was vice president at National City when he accepted a position with the First National City Bank of Alliance, Ohio. In 1963, he was elected president and chief executive officer of the Goodyear Bank of Akron, Ohio, and held that position for eleven years until May 1974, when he joined Society.
Active in community affairs, Mr. Heffern was co-chairman of the Northeastern Ohio Billy Graham Crusade in 1974. He along with others, were active in the crusade to initiate a Christian Foundation in 1997, In His Steps Foundation (IHS). He served as a trustee of Mount Union College and was chairman of the John Carroll University Board of Trustees. Mr. Heffern was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletics Board of Trustees, and was an honorary life member of the Boy Scouts of America. He served as Goodyear Executive Professor of Business Administration at Kent State University from 1988 to 1990. Mr. Heffern was President and CEO of the Akron Community Foundation from 1990 through 1992.
A member of the U.S. Navy during World War II, Mr. Heffern attended Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1949 with a bachelor of science degree in commerce. His first wife, Neva, died in 1992. He and his second wife, Margie McQuillen, were residents of Highland Heights, Ohio, and Bonita Springs, Florida. Mr. Heffern enjoyed golf, tennis and racquetball.