COLUMBUS, Ohio - Northwest Bancshares Inc. and Northwest Bank announced the sudden passing of Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Ronald J. Seiffert.

He died unexpectedly of natural causes on Tuesday.

The Northwest Bancshares and Northwest Bank Boards of Directors held a meeting Tuesday night in accordance with the companies’ succession plan, appointing Chief Financial Officer William W. Harvey Jr. as interim president and chief executive officer, and Lead Director Timothy B. Fannin as interim chairman of the board.

Bank employees have been informed of the news and Northwest representatives are sharing the news with business and community organizations.

“Ron was a friend to everyone at Northwest and the communities that we call home. We mourn for his family and wish them peace during this most difficult time,” said Tim Fannin of Northwest. “Ron was passionate about Northwest and committed to making a difference across Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and Indiana. He took great pride in the relationships the bank had with its customers and appreciated the exceptional loyalty of Northwest Bank employees.”

“Ron had a vision and set the strategic direction of the companies and we intend to carry this vision forward,” said Bill Harvey of Northwest. “It has been an honor and privilege to serve alongside Ron. He was an extraordinary banker, citizen and friend. He had a belief in the bank’s future as a successful, independent financial institution. Northwest’s capable management team is long-tenured and deeply committed to carrying on Ron’s legacy.”

Seiffert, 65, is survived by his wife, Sherry, three daughters, two sons-in-law and four grandchildren. He resided in Delaware, Ohio. Seiffert joined Northwest in November 2017 as president and chief operating officer of Northwest Bank and Northwest Bancshares. He was promoted to the position of president and CEO of Northwest Bank and Northwest Bancshares in June of 2018, appointed to the Board of Directors of Northwest Bank on Jan. 17, 2018, and elected to the Board of Directors of Northwest Bancshares on April 19, 2018.