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On Feb. 5, the mortgage industry got the sad news that longtime active member of the Pennsylvania Association of Mortgage Brokers and NAMB—The Association of Mortgage Professionals Past President George Hanzimanolis of Bartonsville, Pa. passed away after suffering a heart attack at the age of 53. George is survived by his wife of 31 years, Kimberly; his son, James; and his parents, James and Sharyn Hanzimanolis.
Over the years, George accomplished much locally and nationally, first with his involvement with the Pennsylvania Association of Mortgage Brokers, and his involvement on the national level with NAMB. He was honored by his industry peers both locally and nationally with the honor of Broker of the Year for the state of Pennsylvania and was named Mortgage Broker of the Year by NAMB. His volunteer efforts grew from his time spent on the Board of Directors of PAMB, rising to the position of PAMB president, leading to a long-term tenure and involvement on the NAMB national Board of Directors, eventually leading to his taking the gavel of NAMB’s presidency.
“George was one of the great NAMB presidents,” said John Councilman, CMC, CRMS, current president of NAMB and president of AMC Mortgage Corporation. “George fought tirelessly for mortgage brokers and originators. But more than that, he was a man with a big heart. It was never about George; it was always about NAMB, his friends or his clients.”
According to a write up in the Pocono Record, George first worked at The Spa, a family restaurant in Harrison, N.J., before moving to Pennsylvania in the late 1980s. He built a successful business, Bankers First Mortgage Inc. of Tannersville, Pa., and was requested to speak about ethics on the floor of the U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C., and on CNBC.
Donald J. Frommeyer, CRMS, chief executive officer of NAMB, recalled his time spent on the board of the association with George.
"From my first day on the Board, George made me feel like an equal in the mortgage business and in serving on the Board," said Frommeyer. "His compassion for the industry and for the membership of NAMB were always in the forefront of what he accomplished in his term of his presidency. His devotion to his family, especially his son, was evident from the first time that I met him. His genuine smile was his introduction to you, and he always listened to anything that you had to say. I was honored to call him my friend, and he will be greatly missed."
“George was a gentle giant that was both a great friend of mine and the mortgage profession,” said Joel M. Berman, publisher of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. “His leadership of NAMB as president stood out, as he sacrificed both his business and family to accomplish his agenda for the industry. When he was moving up the ladder to president at the NAMB Annual Convention, he proudly brought many members of his family to share in this moment. I also remember years ago, after his presidency, he joined myself and my former partner, Russ Sickmen, to meet with a potential NAMB Industry Partner. He drove 14 hours round trip that day from Pennsylvania to Long Island, N.Y. for that meeting. His passion for the mortgage professional was second to none, and came across strong because he left Long Island that day with a commitment for a new NAMB Platinum Industry Partner and a $100,000 pledge to NAMB. He just wouldn't take no for an answer. His smile and passion will be missed, and I extend my deepest condolences to his family at this time.”
George's longtime friend from his home state of Pennsylvania, Michael J. D'Alonzo, CMC of MB Financial Bank, NAMB 2010-2011 president, said, "George was an exceptional leader, mentor and friend. He was a selfless person who constantly gave of himself and asked for nothing in return. He was an incredible advocate of the mortgage industry, but an even bigger advocate of his family and friends. George was bigger then life and he will be missed."
In lieu of flowers, George’s family is requesting that donations be made to Boy Scout Troop 85 of Bartonsville, Pa. He was a lifelong active member of the Boy Scouts of America and an Eagle Scout, and more recently, a Scoutmaster for Troop 85 in Bartonsville.
Harry H. Dinham, CMC, NAMB past president and member of the association's board under George's presidency, said, "He was a good friend and a true ambassador for the mortgage industry. There were many things that he was passionate about, but the ones that stick with me most were his dedication to his family, the Boy Scouts and helping families get their dream homes. He used to talk about the consumers he had helped like family because that’s what they were to him. He will be missed by all of those whose lives he touched.”
“George deserves to be recognized by every mortgage professional for his enormous contributions to the mortgage industry, his successful leadership of NAMB, and as a loving and devoted husband, father and son who always put his family and friends first,” said Russ Sickmen, former president of National Mortgage Professional Magazine and longtime acquaintance of George. “It is my privilege to have been able to call him a friend. I know he will be enormously missed by myself and his family, friends and the thousands of individuals he has helped throughout his personal and professional life. George was a true community leader.”
"George served in many positions with NAMB, but he should be remembered most for his willingness to listen and extend a helping hand to anyone who needed it," said Jim Nabors, NAMB 2005-2006 president. "His generosity will be missed as much as his knowledge and love of our industry. I considered George one of my closest friends and hope that everyone will remember him for all he did and wanted to do to make our industry a better place. Mostly, I want his son Jimmy to know how much his dad loved him and how he was constantly in his father’s mind. No matter where we were at or what we were doing, our sons always became part of our conversations. I’ll miss him greatly."
Donald E. Fader, CRMS of SMC Home Finance in Kinston, N.C., 2012 NAMB National Mortgage Professional of the Year and former director of NAMB, fondly remembered his first meeting with George.
"My first memory of George was at the 2002 NAMB Annual Convention in Baltimore,” said Fader. “At that time, he was bigger than life and wearing multiple ribbons denoting awards, achievements and his involvement with NAMB. I served on the board during his term as president and can only say that our industry has lost a good friend and a tireless defender of the small independent mortgage professional. He made a difference. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
E. Robert Levy, executive director and counsel for the Mortgage Bankers Association of New Jersey (MBA-NJ), worked with George on a number of legislative and regulatory issues facing the state of Pennsylvania on the local front.
"George was one of the key participants on the Joint Council, which lobbied on behalf of both PAMB and the Mortgage Bankers Association of Pennsylvania," said Levy. "I recall many meetings with the PA Department of Banking on behalf of the industry when George’s expertise and the manner in which he was able to express the industry’s viewpoints on critical issues was invaluable in obtaining the right result on significant regulation and legislation. As busy as George was, he always had time for his family. George was a good friend to many of us and we will miss him greatly."
NAMB Past President Bob Armbruster remembers, "George was committed and dedicated to the entire mortgage broker community. He should be praised for his service and contributions to the mortgage profession. He will be missed."
Current NAMB Director Linda McCoy,CRMS, broker/owner and mortgage planner with Mobile,. Ala.-based Mortgage Team 1 Inc., said, "George was one of the first members I met when I became a director at NAMB. He welcomed me like an old friend when I showed up in Philadelphia to be sworn in. I will say by the time I left there he had made quite an impression on me. I knew he loved NAMB, and wanted me to love it too. I know he gave a large part of his heart to the organization and we will miss him greatly."
Bill Howe, who served NAMB as president and worked with George for several years on NAMB's board, said, "I was on the Board when George made his rise to president of NAMB. I must say that George served with great humility and humor. It was a pleasure to serve when George was on the Board of Directors."