TULSA -- Controversial Tulsa businessman Bill Bartmann has died during heart surgery.
Bartmann founded Commercial Financial Services in the 90's. At its peak, CFS was the nation's largest debt collection company, but ended in bankruptcy.
Bartmann was charged with conspiracy and fraud, the later acquitted. About a decade later, Bartmann started CFS2, but as he told us during an interview in 2013, his rise up from the original CFS to the new company wasn't easy.
"It was probably the most challenging time one can imagine, when you're the 25th wealthiest person in America, and then you go to the 25th brokest person in America," Bartmann said.
Bartmann died Tuesday afternoon during heart surgery. He was 68.
In 2013, Bartmann was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Employees who worked for Bill Bartmann are mourning his loss...remembering how he touched so many lives.
“He was just a normal guy...with a lot of money, you know. He was normal,” said former employee Deana Criner-San Juan. “I think he had everyone's back and he made us all better valued as employees for future employment.”
Criner-San Juan remembers Bartmann who sent her to the Bahamas for job training while working for Commercial Financial Services.
She says his leadership resonated with her.
Now she's her own boss – owning a north Tulsa bar and tax company – who's trying emulate Bartmann everyday.
“My whole outlook on the world is different from working there,” she said. “There's always going to be critics somewhere, but for me personally, he changed my life.”
According to family friends, Bartman will be laid to rest on Monday in Tulsa.