BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Community leaders are in agreement: a titan of the Rio Grande Valley business community has passed away.

Frederick William Rusteberg has died at the age of 74. He was the founding president and CEO of IBC Bank-Brownsville in 1984 and worked in the banking industry for more than four decades. He retired from IBC in 2016.

“On Sunday, the Rio Grande Valley lost a titan. Frederick William Rusteberg of Brownsville, Texas was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend. Fred served the majority of his professional career as the original founding CEO and president of IBC Bank in Brownsville. In this role he helped many start or keep their businesses,” said Congressman Filemon Vela.

Fred W. Rusteberg

“After receiving the Army commendation medal and an honorable discharge, he returned to Brownsville where he served as the port director for the Port of Brownsville. Fred was also a champion for education, establishing the first scholarship endowment at the University of Texas – Brownsville, now University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Fred’s accomplishments and contributions to South Texas are far too many to count. Though I am saddened at the news of the loss of a friend, I know his character, hard work, and legacy will always be remembered in Brownsville.”

Brownsville Chamber of Commerce said: “We would like to pay our respects today, as the City of Brownsville mourns the loss of banking veteran, respected community leader and former President and CEO of IBC Bank-Brownsville, Fred W. Rusteberg. Mr. Rusteberg will be long remembered as ‘Mr. Brownsville’ for his service, hard work and dedication to the city he loved. May you rest in peace, Fred.”

Traci Boeh Wickett said on Facebook: The Godfather (as we always joked). He is irreplaceable.”

Justo E. Gonzalez said on Facebook: “At a loss for words. Mr. Fred Rusteberg ‘68 was someone I truly looked up to. Through his successes and influence in the lower Rio Grande Valley, he maintained an admirable humility. I am thankful to have spent as many hours on the golf course with him as I did. I will cherish the stories he shared about his time at Texas A&M University and as an officer in the U.S. Army, serving as a UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” chopper pilot in The Vietnam War.”

Gonzales said Rusteberg was a champion of Texas A&M University and higher education who inspired many to achieve what might have seemed unachievable.

“It is said, when you’re gone, what people say about you is a testament to who you were. One can only hope to be hailed as such an outstanding individual. A great husband, father, grandfather, colleague, or as in my case, friend and mentor. Rest easy, Mr. Rusteberg.”

Veteran broadcaster Ron Whitlock said: “Fred has been on my mind a lot over the past week. To me, Fred Rusteberg was a true and relevant hero and legend in Cameron County and this the lower Valley, similar to the relevancy of my raid stations partners Glen Roney’s stature and impact in the Mid- and Upper Valley. Just as I have with Glen, I have been missing Fred’s counsel and friendship and will always cherish the successful public policy initiatives that he and I collaborated on over the years.”

Whitlock added: “Fred always called me, ‘panda,’ as I him, and with that bond and respect for each other, we knew that we could accomplish whatever we set out to do to improve the quality of life for the people of Cameron County.

IBC Bank

Fred W. Rusteberg

IBC Bank issued this tribute to Fred Rusteberg:

LAREDO, Texas – IBC Bank is mourning the loss of banking veteran, community leader and founding President and CEO of IBC Bank-Brownsville Fred W. Rusteberg, who passed away over the weekend.

Rusteberg retired in 2016, after more than four decades in the banking industry. He founded the first IBC Bank in Cameron County, the fourth IBC Bank in the International Bancshares Corporation, in 1984. During his tenure, he grew the bank to the high-performing institution it is today with 12 banking facilities and more than $1 billion in assets.  After retiring as CEO, Rusteberg served as Chairman Emeritus of the IBC Bank-Brownsville Board.

“Fred was an outstanding citizen, family man, leader and a solid example of IBC Bank’s ‘We Do More’ mission. He worked, lived and gave to his community under the moniker of Mr. Brownsville. Above all, Fred was a communicator. He loved people and wanted to help build a future for everyone he touched. He was a champion for everyone in Brownsville and Matamoros and took great pride in the fact that he was fluent in Spanish allowing him to communicate on both sides of the border, truly representing IBC Bank’s international roots.” said IBC Bank Chairman and CEO Dennis E. Nixon. “I’m honored to have had the opportunity to work with him for so many decades. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones during this sad time. This is truly a loss for our entire community.”

During his 40-plus years in banking, Rusteberg was also dedicated to the progress and development of the Brownsville community. He was the founding chairman of “Brownsville First,” a grassroots community effort created in 1990 that successfully petitioned for Brownsville voters to approve a half-cent sales tax for economic development efforts, including a bond issue for economic development and quality of life projects, which the community continues to enjoy today. Before he began his banking career, Rusteberg worked as assistant port director for the Port of Brownsville and as project director for the Brownsville-Matamoros Railroad Relocation project, helping develop a $50 million pilot demonstration project. This resulted in the relocation of the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific rail yards and rail transportation from the center of Brownsville.

Rusteberg was also an active member of the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley Strategic Planning Community and served on numerous other councils and boards that directly impacted the community, including the University of Texas-Brownville Development Board, Brownsville Community Foundation, Brownsville Rio Grande Rail Road Board, Valley Baptist Medical Center Board, Preparatoria del Tecnologico de Monterrey Board in Matamoros, Mexico, University of Texas-Brownsville Advisory Committee and more.

His years of community service earned him numerous recognitions, such as Outstanding Citizen of the Year and leadership awards from the Brownsville Historic Museum, the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts.

Education played an important part in Rusteberg’s community involvement, including taking an active role in the development of science, engineering, technology, business and education programs at the University of Texas-Brownsville and Texas Southmost College. Because of his commitment to expanding the region’s educational opportunities, he and his family established the first scholarship endowment at the University of Texas-Brownsville in 1995, and IBC Bank established the Fred and Frances Rusteberg Scholarship Endowment later that year.

Current IBC Bank – Brownsville CEO and Board Chair Al Villarreal added, “Fred Rusteberg meant so much to the bank’s officers and staff. He was a remarkable mentor, leader and gentleman. Always supportive and encouraging, he inspired us to do our best and was delighted in our achievements. I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to work side by side with Fred for over 20 years and to have witnessed the incredible impact he had on everyone around him. My heartfelt condolences go to his entire family.”

Rusteberg is survived by his wife, Frances, two married children who are also active within the community, and two grandchildren.


Here is the official for Fred W. Rusteberg                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Frederick William Rusteberg, 74, died peacefully surrounded by his loving family on July 19, 2020, at his home in Rancho Viejo, Texas, after a long health battle.

Born in Brownsville, Texas, on July 1, 1946, Fred was the first and only son of Jessie Cabler and Frederick Henry Rusteberg, Jr. To the delight of his family, he was born 10 long years after his four sisters. He grew up on their family tomato farm in Villa Nueva (near present day Veterans High School). He attended Brownsville High School and then Texas A&M University, earning a bachelor’s degree in Finance and later completed his graduate studies at Texas Tech University. While at Tech, Fred met and then married the love of his life, Frances Hill. 

As a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army, Fred was trained as a Huey helicopter pilot and served as Flight Operations Officer responsible for overseeing South Korean airfields, based in Seoul, South Korea, during the Vietnam War era in the early ‘70s. After serving in Korea, Fred and Frances moved back to Brownsville, where he began working on the railroad relocation project in his capacity as assistant Port Director at the Port of Brownsville. He began his banking career as Vice-President at First National Bank in 1977.  In 1984, he became the founding President and CEO of IBC Bank in Brownsville where he served for over 35 years until his retirement.

Fred had a strong belief in serving his community and has received countless recognitions. He has been honored with a Congressional Record by the U.S. Congress, has been recognized as an Outstanding Citizen by the State of Texas, the Boy Scouts of America and the Brownsville Historic Museum. Fred served on the Brownsville Community Foundation Board, the Brownsville Rio Grande Railroad Board, and was Tri-Chair for the City of Brownsville’s comprehensive 10-year plan, Imagine Brownsville.

Promoting education in South Texas was one of his greatest passions and Fred helped raise millions for education, chairing numerous successful school bond issues. He was Chairman of the Strategic Planning Team for BISD in 1997 and 2006, served two terms as Chairman of the University of Texas–Brownsville Development Board and was a member of the Chancellor’s Advisory Council at UT-Austin. His family established the first scholarship endowment at UTB/UTRGV. 

Fred is preceded in death by his parents, Frederick Henry Rusteberg, Jr. and Jessie Cabler Rusteberg, sisters Betty Richardson Stevenson, and Freda Stone. Fred is survived by Frances, his loving wife and life partner of 49 years, his two children William “Rusty” (Tammy) Rusteberg of Brownsville, and Liz (Chad) Hainley of Rancho Viejo, and two grandchildren Jessie and Will Hainley. He is also survived by two of his siblings, Joy (Bill) Burns of Harlingen and June (Adolph) Dittman of Brownsville, and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

More than anything, he loved his family and friends.  Throughout their marriage, Fred and Frances loved traveling and cruising around the world. Fred was an avid golfer and enjoyed playing with his golfing buddies and his dog Bella. He will be remembered as a great banker, a great boss, a great mentor and a great friend. But more importantly, he was an outstanding and loving husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, brother, and uncle.

Due to gathering restrictions, a private burial service will be held.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made in memory of Fred W. Rusteberg to: the Episcopal Day School, 34 North Coria, Brownsville, Texas 78520, or St. Joseph Academy 101 St. Joseph Drive, Brownsville, TX 78520 or to UTRGV Fred & Frances Rusteberg Endowed Scholarship for Business 1201 West University Drive, EITTB 1.210, Edinburg Texas 78539 and First Presbyterian Church, 435 Palm Blvd, Brownsville, TX 78520. 


Here is a video of Fred W. Rusteberg in conversation about his life produced by UT-Brownsville:

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