A Rocky Mount native who was a former regional bank chief executive officer and a onetime economic adviser to a North Carolina governor is dead at the age of 64.

Kel Landis III died at his home on Saturday in Raleigh, with an obituary saying he had battled cancer for two years.

Landis was president of what was Rocky Mount-based Centura Bank starting in the mid-1990s.

In 2001, Landis became chief executive officer of RBC Centura after Centura was bought by the Royal Bank of Canada.

In the past in the Twin Counties, Landis was more known as the CEO of RBC Centura, but he was long active in service beyond the corporate offices.

The (Raleigh) News & Observer, in a profile of Landis in 2001, noted his work in the Rocky Mount community, including when the city needed a prominent local executive to lobby for federal tax credits for businesses. The story noted Landis responded by making two trips to Washington, D.C., to promote the idea to the state’s congressional delegation.

The story also noted that when the city wanted $250,000 to construct park benches and a statue honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Landis was asked to lead the fundraising effort.

Additionally, the story noted that when Benvenue Country Club balked at having an African American as a member, Landis persuaded the club’s membership to grant such an acceptance in 1995.


After retiring as the CEO of RBC Centura, Landis became an economic adviser to then-Gov. Mike Easley in 2005.

That same year Landis helped create Plexus Capital, which invests in small businesses.

Gov. Roy Cooper, who like Easley and Landis grew up in Nash County, recently presented Landis with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. That is the highest award by the Office of the Governor for service to the Tar Heel State.

Landis earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UNC-Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in business administration, also from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Landis served on the board of trustees at UNC-Chapel Hill and recently worked to raise money to build a North Carolina Freedom Park in Raleigh to honor contributions of African Americans.

Landis also wrote a motivational book, “The Little Book of Do!”

Landis is survived by his wife, Nina Szlosberg-Landis; daughter, Dorsey Tobias; son-in-law, Jeff Tobias; two grandsons, Capson and Walter Tobias; son, H.K. Landis IV; mother, Corinne Landis; brother, Mark Landis, and his wife, Margaret; and nephews, Fred, Mac and Henry.