She lived up to her reputation until she died yesterday afternoon, from pancreatic cancer, at age 62.
Rising from teller to CEO of Wells Fargo Bank, a subsidiary of Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), Dial went on to head UK retail banking at Lloyds TSB. In 2008, Citigroup (C) CEO Vikram Pandit lured her from London to be CEO of North American consumer banking. At Citi, Dial earned a spot, No. 47, on the Fortune Most Powerful Women list.
Dial lasted two years at Citi, amidst a maelstrom of management changes. In January 2010, she stepped down and accepted a senior adviser role.
Two weeks later, her medical nightmare began.
"Until then, she thought she was 100% healthy," recalls her husband, Brian Burry, who called last week from Dial's bedside at a hospice facility in Miami.
Burry told me that Dial, two years ago, went to her doctor in Manhattan for what she thought was a stomach flu. A visit to a gastroenterologist led to the discovery of a pancreatic tumor. Surgery, months of infections, and pneumonia followed. And due to these complications, her chemotherapy was delayed.
"This is the insidious nature of the disease," says Burry.
During their 32-year marriage, Dial pushed herself constantly, as she did in business. She and Burry traveled to more than 100 countries. She hot-air ballooned in Burma. She photographed pelagic birds, penguins, seals and whales in Antarctica. She tracked polar bears in Canada and tigers in India.
"What she did not do was squander time," her sister, Donna, wrote in Dial's obituary.
Through rigorous treatment, bouts of nausea, and brief remission of her cancer, Dial stayed positive, says Frontier Communications (FTR) CEO Maggie Wilderotter, who knew Dial for 30 years.
Lynn Carter, known as Lynn Pike when she headed Capital One (COF) Bank, was another close friend. Pike flew to Miami once a month to see Dial.
She recalls her January visit: "Terri was at home and feeling pretty good, and it was 10 days more to make it to the two-year anniversary of her diagnosis." That day, Dial remembered how pessimistic her doctors seemed to be early on. Proudly, Dial looked at Pike and said: "Well, at least I beat the odds."
"They've never felt compelled to do anything because other banks were doing it, and that's how banks get in trouble, when they say, 'Everybody else is doing it, why shouldn't I?'"
--Berkshire Hathaway (BRKB) CEO Warren Buffett in an interview with Fortune's Adam Lashinsky about Wells Fargo (WFC). As the largest shareholder of Wells Fargo through Berkshire, Buffett knows the San Francisco bank well. "Those guys have gone their own way," MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Apr 20, 2009 6:21 PM ET
"We will hold ourselves accountable for what we do, and that starts with me."
-- Citigroup (C) CEO Vikram Pandit testifying before Congress on Wednesday. The heads of eight of the nation's top banks, which have collectively received $165 billion in government rescue funds, appeared together before the House Financial Services Committee to explain what they've done with the money so far.
The CEOs—including Goldman Sach's (GS) Lloyd Blankfein, Wells Fargo's (WFC) MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Feb 11, 2009 7:06 PM ET
Amidst the news that Morgan Stanley (MS) will cut 10% of its institutional securities employees, you might have missed this: Cece Sutton, Wachovia's (WB) former head of retail and small business banking and No. 33 on Most Powerful Women list this year, is moving to Morgan to be president of its new retail bank.
Pattie wrote about Sutton in September, just as Citigroup (C) was poised to acquire Wachovia--before Wells Fargo MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Nov 13, 2008 5:45 PM ET
When chaos and crisis are in the air, it's easy to shelve programs that are about building for the long-term future. That's why I'm particularly proud that Fortune and Goldman Sachs (GS) recently partnered to create the Goldman Sachs-Fortune Global Women Leaders Award.
This annual award is a product of the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership, which brings rising-star women from developing countries to the U.S. every May MOREPatricia Sellers - Nov 10, 2008 12:35 PM ET
It's hard to be hopeful. Turmoil in the financial markets is spreading geographically and psychologically. The Dow closed down 508 points today. At last week's Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, we heard plenty about stress and sleep deprivation -- starting with Warren Buffett's comments on a clearly exhausted Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Sallie Krawcheck, who is leaving her high-level post at Citigroup (C), and Barclays Capital (BCS) vice chairman Barbara Byrne MOREJessica Shambora, Writer-Reporter - Oct 7, 2008 7:22 PM ET
Featuring Warren Buffett and beyond, there's a wealth, so to speak, of video from last week's Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit. Especially now, with the markets in turmoil, these video segments are worth checking out. There's Buffett on the $700 billion bailout. Buffett on why he expects to make a hefty profit on his recent $3 billion investment in General Electric (GE), and Buffett on gender equality (wise and amusing MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 6, 2008 2:11 PM ET
What a wrapup this morning at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit. I interviewed Melinda Gates -- with Warren Buffett watching from the front row. Buffett was flanked by his daughter, Susie, and his daughter-in-law, Jennifer, both of whom are powerful philanthropists in their own right.
It was fascinating to have Melinda Gates talk about her heady missions -- find an AIDS vaccine, eradicate malaria, reform U.S. education, bring a Green Revolution to Africa MOREPatricia Sellers - Oct 3, 2008 5:25 PM ET
Men think about power vertically -- and focus on rank and status and size. Women think about power horizontally -- it's largely about influence. I know I'm in trouble already. This is a stereotype, indeed. But in more than a decade of asking women leaders -- and the men they work with -- how they define power, I've discovered this to be an remarkably consistent truth. My favorite definition of MOREPatricia Sellers - Jul 10, 2008 10:51 AM ET
Women exercise power horizontally. I've said this often -- in speeches about leadership and at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, an annual event that I chair. This horizontal slant spurs women leaders to reach beyond the jobs they're hired to do.
Want proof? In May, 40 top female executives in the U.S. -- all participants in the Fortune Summit -- spent two and half weeks mentoring rising stars from 24 MOREPatricia Sellers - Jun 12, 2008 2:16 PM ET
|Boost for trade as global deal struck|
|2 million Facebook, Gmail and Twitter passwords stolen in massive hack|
|Someone bought a $100,000 Tesla with Bitcoins|
|Economy is improving but why doesn't it feel that way?|
|Five key numbers behind the jobs recovery|