CEO Rich Fairbank On The Passing Of Mike Wassmer

Mike Wassmer Was A Beloved And Transformational Leader, And Cherished Friend


On June 16, 2022, Mike Wassmer, President of Card at Capital One, died suddenly at age 52. Founder and CEO Rich Fairbank shared the tragic news with associates: 

From: Rich Fairbank, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

To: Capital One Associates

Today, I’m reaching out to share some terribly sad news. Our colleague Mike Wassmer unexpectedly passed away early this morning.

There are no words to express the sorrow that I feel and I know many of you are grieving with me today.

Mike was one of the first leaders at Capital One, joining us in 1994 right after graduating from Duke with a Masters in Mathematics. I remember personally interviewing Mike and how impressed I was with his brilliance and his compelling personal journey. I knew he was headed for greatness.

Mike was the first member of his family to graduate from college. He felt a personal connection with people and their struggles to build stronger financial lives. He devoted his career to that quest.

Mike’s passion for the Mission was rooted in his personal experience, and he eloquently described his journey this way: “We all have choices about how we want to spend our work lives. I choose Capital One for the purpose and the people. I’m surrounded by some of the most talented, growth mindset people in the world, in a culture where being bold, challenging the status quo, and elevating others are values you see everyday. What matters at Capital One, our purpose, is to help people improve their financial lives. This is at the center of our Mission to Change Banking for Good.”

Mike started out as a Business Analyst and took on increasingly broad roles at the company as he blossomed as a leader. Among other roles, Mike led our UK business, our Mainstreet Card business, and our Branded Card business before becoming President of Card in 2016.

Mike was a pioneer, an innovator, and a leader. He helped build so much of what we have become today. And he did it all with his trademark humility, elevating others all around him. We learned from him, we were inspired by him, he made us better.

Mike’s big heart extended well beyond Capital One. In recent years, Mike eagerly took on the role of Market President for Central Virginia, deepening the roots he and his family had laid down in his adopted hometown of Richmond. He served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, including the Friends Association for Care and Protection of Children, The Faison Center, and the Full Circle Grief Center. Mike was the driving force behind our unique 1717 Innovation Center, which has helped scores of start-ups find their footing.

We will also always remember Mike as an inspirational athlete. Mike walked on to the football team at Lafayette College in 1988 and he never stopped pursuing athletic greatness. Just this past April, Mike accomplished a life-long dream of running the Boston Marathon and he was perennially ranked as one of the top CrossFit athletes in the world.

Despite his many breathtaking achievements, Mike’s greatest passion was his family. He was very proud of his three children. He spent countless hours at swim meets and cheerleading events. He and his wife, Andrea, were resolved that their children grow up with great values and an appreciation for the calling to make a difference in the broader world. Our collective heart breaks for them.

Mike was my dear friend and partner. And he was a friend and inspiration to many of you. We all feel a profound sense of loss. We will miss him very much.