SANTA ROSA -- After nearly 10 years as president of North Coast Bank and 25 years in banking, Ray Byrne has retired from the financial industry.

The long-time Santa Rosa banker and businessman, known by many for his sense of humor and quick wit, had previously announced his intent to retire in 2013, but accepted an offer to leave the bank this month, he said.

In his final year at the bank, Mr. Byrne served as senior vice president and senior relationship manager. His former role will be continued by current staff, said David Taber, president and CEO of the bank's owner, American River Bankshares.

Mr. Byrne said that his decision came at a challenging time for community banks across the country, with many choosing to combine with larger institutions amid regulatory and financial pressures.

It also came at a time of refocusing for American River Bankshares, as the company transitions to more centralized management to free resources for business development at North Coast Bank and its other subsidiaries, American River Bank and Bank of Amador, Mr. Taber said.

Mr. Byrne served at a number of institutions during his career, including Westamerica Bank and Wells Fargo N.A. He left banking for 10 years to serve as general manager for Sonoma County office equipment vendor Discovery Office Systems, and later rejoined the industry at North Coast Bank.

Building close relationships with clients has remained a focus for Mr. Byrne during his time at the bank.

American River Bankshares maintains a number of business development staff in Sonoma County, as well as a local board of directors. Two seats on the company-wide board of directors are held by local members, said Mr. Taber.

Mr. Byrne said that he felt comfortable with his timing in leaving the banking industry and hoped to maintain close relationships with his former clients.  

In leaving the bank, Mr. Byrne said that he will fill the role of general manager at the Santa Rosa nature preserve, Safari West.

American River Bankshares acquired North Coast Bank in 2000, maintaining the local name for the bank’s two branches in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg. The company reported $589.7 million in assets as of June 30.

This article has been changed to reflect the succession of Mr. Byrne.