SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union mourns loss of board member Esmael Adibi, Ph.D.

Trusted advisor and advocate for members and the credit union movement

SANTA ANA, CA (April 15, 2016) — SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union mourns the passing of longtime board member and advisor Esmael (Essie) Adibi, Ph.D., who died of complications from a stroke on Friday, April 8, 2016. He was 63.

Dr. Adibi was an internationally recognized economist who presented his theories and forecasts to policymakers and audiences around the world. In addition to being a beloved economics professor and director of the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University, Dr. Adibi volunteered much of his time to help SchoolsFirst FCU and the credit union movement monitor and minimize risk in order to remain financially strong for Members.

“We’ve lost a friend and strong advocate for our Members, and collectively we feel the weight of his loss,” said Bill Cheney, SchoolsFirst FCU President/CEO. “While I have worked more closely with Essie over the last two years at SchoolsFirst, I’ve had the honor to know him and work with him for more than a decade. His involvement in the credit union movement extended beyond our Credit Union to the state, national and international level. I know he will be missed by many, and we send our heartfelt sympathies to his family and the Chapman University community during this difficult time.”

 As a 35-year Member and nine-year board member of SchoolsFirst FCU, Dr. Adibi consistently provided his well-researched economic insight to help lead the Credit Union through a period of unprecedented growth and success, including the years leading up to and during the Great Recession.

 “His focus and expertise helped us to stay true to our purpose and serve our Members through some of our most expansive years,” said Rudy Hanley, retired SchoolsFirst FCU President/CEO. “It was a distinct honor to work with one of the most respected economists in the world for the benefit of our Members.”

 In addition to serving on the SchoolsFirst FCU (formerly OCTFCU) Board of Directors, Dr. Adibi also served on the OCTFCU Orange County Teachers Service Organization Board of Managers from 1999-2003 and OCTFCU Mortgage Company Board of Managers from 2003-2007. He also served various terms on the SchoolsFirst FCU finance, risk and nominating committees.

 “It was truly amazing to witness Dr. Adibi’s economic outlook at work,” said Francisco Nebot, Chief Financial Officer at SchoolsFirst FCU. “His inquisitiveness and unique ability to ask the right questions at the right time allowed us to minimize risk where needed and secure our Members’ best interests time and time again. He challenged us all to be better for our Members, and I am truly indebted to him for his guidance and friendship.”

 Born in Iran, Dr. Adibi received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tehran, then moved to the U.S., where he pursued an MBA at Chapman University. He went on to achieve a Master of Science in economics from California State University, Fullerton and a Ph.D. in economics from the Claremont Graduate University.

 Dr. Adibi joined the Chapman faculty in 1978 and was appointed director of the A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research in 1985. For the past 37 years, he has been a sought after presenter of the Chapman University Economic Forecasts.

 “Essie was an amazing educator and his contributions to the educational community were tremendous. He was able to advance the knowledge of his students, many of whom have become leaders in their fields,” said Kristine Wetzel, Chairman of the Board for SchoolsFirst FCU. “In addition to his teaching accomplishments, Essie’s expertise was valued by the entire board. His presence, humor and contributions will be missed by us all.”

 Dr. Adibi is survived by his wife Jila, daughter Roxanne, son Keeya, son-in-law William, future daughter-in-law Irene, and grandchildren Nicholas and Alexander.

 A memorial service for Dr. Adibi will be held on Saturday, April 16 at 11 a.m. in the Wallace All Faiths Chapel in the university’s Fish Interfaith Center.

About SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union is the fifth largest credit union in the country and has been recognized by Forbes as the number one credit union in California. Serving school employees and their families, the organization is dedicated to delivering World-Class Personal Service and improving the financial lives of its Members. Today they serve more than 1.3 million Members with a full range of financial products and services. SchoolsFirst FCU was founded in 1934, when 126 school employees pooled $1,200 and established a Member-owned cooperative to help improve each other's lives. In 2022, the Credit Union reported nearly $28 billion in assets and remains the largest credit union in California. For more information about SchoolsFirst FCU, visit


Larry Meltzer

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