More than a few senior execs of large mortgage operations seem to be riding off into the sunset during the current industry downturn. Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) is the latest to announce a key mortgage departure, and said late Monday that senior EVP Mark Oman, head of its home and consumer finance group and a 30-year veteran of the company, plans to retire by the end of next year. Oman's group of businesses -- Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Wells Fargo Financial, and Card Services and Consumer Lending -- will remain in its current form, continue as a Group to report to Oman, and continue to be headquartered in Des Moines. "Thanks to Mark’s outstanding leadership through three decades with our company, the mortgage loan -- with checking, investments and insurance -- became one of our company’s four core products and part of the foundation of our company’s vision," said Wells Fargo chairman Dick Kovacevich. "His significant role in building one of America’s largest and most respected mortgage companies I believe is one of the great success stories in U.S. financial services." Oman, 53, joined Norwest Financial, the consumer finance subsidiary of the former Norwest Corporation (now Wells Fargo & Company), in 1979 in financial reporting, then as manager of treasury and audit services. He was named Norwest Mortgage’s chief financial officer in 1985, president and CEO of Mortgage in 1989, a group head in 1997 and a senior EVP in 2005. The first year he led the mortgage group in 1989, it had 1,850 team members, 52 locations in 23 states, originated $4.4 billion in mortgage loans and serviced $800 million in loans. Last year, Wells Fargo originated $272 billion in mortgage loans and had an owned mortgage servicing portfolio of $1.53 trillion. Wells Fargo did not specify its transition plans, or if it will begin an external search for Oman's replacement. Disclosure: The author held no positions in WFC when this story was published; indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments, as well. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.