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Anne Doss, Head of Wells Fargo Unit, Dies at 56

Wells Fargo Head of Personal & Small Bus. Anne Doss
Wells Fargo & Co.'s head of personal and small-business insurance business Anne Doss is seen in this undated handout photo released to the media on August 15, 2013. Doss, charged with boosting collaboration between the business and retail-banking groups, has died at the age of 56. The cause of death was not immediately known. Source: Wells Fargo & Co. via Bloomberg

Anne Doss, who became head of Wells Fargo & Co.’s personal and small-business insurance unit in January as part of an expansion push, has died on a work-related trip. She was 56.

She died on Aug. 14 in her hotel room at the Sofitel Minneapolis in Bloomington, Minnesota, Raschael Ellering, an investigator at the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office, said yesterday in an interview. Her death was from “apparent natural causes,” according to the coroner’s report. The specific cause is pending further investigation.

The Charlotte, North Carolina-based executive was in Minnesota on a business trip, Herbert Doss, her husband of 26 years, said, according to an article on the Charlotte Observer’s website. Her death surprised him because she hadn’t been ill, the newspaper reported.

“I spoke to her as she was going to sleep,” he said, according to the article. “She was perfect.”

An executive vice president at San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, Doss was responsible for boosting collaboration between the insurance, business and retail-banking groups, according to a December statement announcing her new role.

As she rose in her career, Doss also extended herself as a mentor to women trying to move through the corporate landscape. In April, she was a slated speaker at a Women’s Leadership Academy Summit in Grapevine, Texas. The title of her presentation: “Navigating the Corporate Matrix in High Heels and a Skirt.” The event was sponsored by the State Farm Center for Women and Financial Services at the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

‘Demonstrating Power’

She appeared in a 2008 Forbes magazine article about the correlation between height and success and the growing presence of stiletto heels in executive suites.

“Doss doesn’t need to add height -- she’s 5’9” without her favorite Prada or Manolo pumps -- but nonetheless values the perceived edge of a sky-high heel,” according to the article.

“For me, it’s about demonstrating power and strength,” she said, according to Forbes.

Before her latest promotion, Doss had led the national practices and special risk group at Wells Fargo, which she joined with its 2008 purchase of Wachovia Corp. Doss was Wachovia’s president of insurance services at the time, according to the statement about her new position. She spent 23 years at the Charlotte-based lender, including 20 years in its banking operations before moving to Wachovia’s insurance division in 2007, according to a Wells Fargo biography.

‘Fierce Love’

“Anne is remembered by the many who loved her for her piercing green eyes, impeccable style -- thank you, Neiman Marcus -- attention to detail, deep wisdom, fierce love of God, and all things Rock & Roll, especially Marvin Gaye, the Beatles, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Marley,” according to a statement e-mailed by Marsha Askins, a family spokeswoman. “She displayed kindness and generosity to everyone, was angered by and fought injustices to others.”

Doss was “extremely healthy” and her death was “completely unexpected,” Katie Ellis, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman, said yesterday in an interview. Ellis, who confirmed that Doss was on a business trip, described her as “an extremely vibrant woman, very passionate.”

Anne Johnson was born on Dec. 19, 1956, in Yakima, Washington. Her father, Stan Johnson, was a minister and her mother, Emily Johnson, a nurse anesthetist. She graduated from Guilford Technical Community College in Greensboro, North Carolina, and North Carolina State University in Raleigh. As part of Wachovia’s senior executive development program, she attended Fuqua School of Business at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, according to Ellis.

Ordained Minister

She was ordained as an interfaith minister in 2003 by One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York City and officiated her daughter’s wedding, according to Askins.

Doss was on the board of Women Executives for Community Service and Women’s Inter-cultural Exchange, according to the Wells Fargo biography. She was also board chairman-elect of the North Carolina Dance Theatre, and a director at Carolina Thread Trail, a regional network of hiking and biking paths, according to the biography.

“Anne was more than just a colleague,” Laura Schupbach, head of Wells Fargo’s insurance unit, said in an e-mailed statement. “She was a close and dear friend whom I will miss terribly.”

Doss and her husband lived in Charlotte and in Southport, North Carolina.

In addition to her husband and father, Doss’s survivors include her son, Brenton Purcell, 30; daughter, Kristin Mountcastle, 31; sisters, Jayne Batts and Jan Smith; brothers, Chris Johnson and Jay Johnson, according to Askins.

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