Herb Sandler, the mortgage industry executive praised for his philanthropy and criticized for lending practices ahead of the 2008 economic crisis, passed away on June 5 at the age of 87.
Sandler was born in 1931 and grew up in New York’s Lower East Side, graduated from the City College of New York in 1951 and Columbia Law School in 1954. He worked for the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor and as an attorney at a small New York City law firm. He married Marion Osher in 1961 and the couple moved to California, where they founded Golden West, parent of World Savings Bank, in 1963 after purchasing a $34-million asset thrift in Oakland. The Sandlers served as co-chairs of Golden West and pioneered the use of the option ARM as a mortgage offering.
The Sandlers built their financial institution into the nation’s second largest thrift by the time they sold it to Wachovia in 2006 for $24 billion. However, the purchase eventually proved lethal to Wachovia, which suffer significant losses from mortgages originated by Golden West. Wachovia eventually sold its World Savings’ loan portfolio under duress to Wells Fargo and the Sandlers were identified by Time magazine as one of the “25 People to Blame for the Financial Crisis.”
Sandler used his post-banking career to concentrate on philanthropy, creating a family foundation and supporting left-of-center organizations including the Center for American Progress think tank and the ProPublica news site.