Mary Roebling
Banker, businesswoman, philanthropist
Born: July 29, 1905, in West Collingswood, New Jersey
Died: October 25, 1994, in Trenton, New Jersey
New Jersey Hall of Fame, Class of 2018: Enterprise

Long before there was a women’s liberation movement, Mary Roebling was a businesswoman who thrived in a man’s world of boardrooms and banking.

Born Mary Gindhart, she was the daughter of a telephone company executive and a music teacher. She attended public schools in Moorestown and Haddonfield. She was just 15 when she married musician Arthur Herbert. The two had a daughter the following year, but the next year, 1922, Arthur died.

The young mother and widow went to work at an investment house in Philadelphia and attended night classes in business administration and merchandising at the University of Pennsylvania. After a second marriage ended in divorce, she married Siegfried Roebling, the millionaire great-grandson of John A. Roebling, designer of the Brooklyn Bridge. Her new husband died four years later, leaving Mary his stock in Trenton Trust, a banking institution.

Rising to a unique challenge, Mary Roebling took her husband’s seat on the Trenton Trust board; the following year, 1937, she was elected board president. Remarkably, that made Roebling the first woman to head a major American bank. The bank thrived with Roebling as president and chairman through 1972, when it was acquired by National State Bank, one of New Jersey’s largest independent banks. She chaired the combined banks until 1984.

In 1978, Roebling founded Women’s Bank N.A. in Denver, the nation’s first chartered bank established by women; she chaired its board until 1983. Roebling also broke ground at the American Stock Exchange, where she served as the first female governor from 1958 to 1962.

Over the years, Roebling served as a director at several companies and in numerous public-service capacities. She was a member of the National Business Council on Consumer Affairs and of the Boy Scouts of America’s national advisory council. She served through several presidential administrations as a civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army, and was made president of the new Army War College Foundation in 1978.

In a 1965 speech, Roebling said: “As a woman who for years has competed in the business world, I would be the first to agree that the American woman has almost unbelievable economic power, but American women, like women of all civilized nations, do not use the influence their economic power gives them.”

Intro/Acceptance Video