Robert E. Roth, the CEO of Mercantile Adjustment Bureau and founder of Spectrum Home Mortgage Corp., died Saturday in the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care, Cheektowaga, after a brief illness. He was 58.
The Buffalo native attended Father Baker School in Lackawanna, then graduated from Bethlehem Central High School in the Albany area. He graduated from St. John Fisher College with a bachelor's degree in economics, then earned a master's degree in business administration from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
After completing his education, Mr. Roth set to work forging what would become a successful career in banking, crediting his success to the relationships he built.
"Most people remember his drive; he had a very tough exterior, yet he was a marshmallow inside," said David Hunter, with whom he co-founded Spectrum Home Mortgage Corp. "He took a real interest in people."
Mr. Roth worked at a number of banks in Western New York -- first, Erie Federal Savings and Loan in Buffalo, then at Community Savings Bank in Rochester, where he was assistant vice president of mortgage banking. In 1977, he went to Rochester Savings Bank, where he was vice president for mortgage servicing for six years before going to Empire Savings Bank in Buffalo, where he was senior vice president.
He co-founded Spectrum Home Mortgage Corp. in 1985. Nine years later, the Amherst company boasted 125 employees and a growing portfolio. Spectrum was the largest retail residential lender in Upstate New York, originating and servicing more than $1 billion a year.
The former Marine Midland Bank bought the company in 1994, bringing Mr. Roth on board as president of the mortgage corporation. Under his guidance, what soon was renamed HSBC Mortgage Corp. grew to be among the top quartile in the country for origination and service.
He retired from the bank in 1998 and served on the board for Wyoming County Bank and Transit Valley Country Club, where he was president.
After a few years, though, he grew bored with retirement and bought an interest in Mercantile Adjustment Bureau, an accounts receivable management company with 150 employees in Western New York. Mr. Roth served as CEO of the company until his death.
"Although he was a highly successful and well-respected professional in Western New York, most important to him was the love of family and friends," said his daughter, Sarah Mabardy. "His smile and laughter just lit up a room. He was larger than life, charismatic. You walked into a room, and he was the cool guy in the room you wanted to hang out with."
Mr. Roth was an active member of St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church. He enjoyed fishing, golfing, woodworking and racing cars.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife, the former Mary Cardoso; another daughter, Daylan Jellinick; a son, James; and his father, Richard.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Wednesday in St. Mary's Catholic Church, 6919 Transit Road, Swormville.