2020 Leaders in Banking Excellence

The 2020 Leaders in Banking Excellence honors WBA's first class of current and former banking leaders who have helped shape their bank and/or our state’s banking industry. The plaques honoring these bankers can be viewed in the WBA headquarters building in Madison on the Wall of Excellence.

The Wall of Excellence is prominently featured in WBA's new Engagement Center, where thousands of bankers will view them each year as they attend the variety of meetings and training programs hosted there. The information on each honoree’s plaque gives today’s bankers a glimpse of those who have helped make our industry what it is today.

On Friday, June 4, 2021, a ceremony was held to honor the 2020 class, photos of the event may be viewed by clicking here.

Paul C. Adamski

Paul C. Adamski founded The Pineries Bank in 1997 with 15 other local investors. With over 45 years of experience, Paul’s passion for the banking industry is evidenced by his involvement with the Wisconsin Bankers Association as well as his commitment to the community.

He has served on numerous financial industry boards including WBA, Financial Institution Products Corporation (FIPCO), Bankers’ Bank, Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), Wisconsin Savings Bank Review, and Wisconsin College Savings Program (Edvest).

Locally, Paul has been active in various community organizations such as Bill Cook Chapter-Izaak Walton League, Portage County Business Council, Community Foundation of Portage County, United Way, Community Industries Corp., Stevens Point Area YMCA, UW-Stevens Point Foundation, and UW-Stevens Point Alumni Association.

Paul has served in the banking industry since graduating college from UW-Stevens Point in 1974. He was Deputy Commissioner of Savings and Loan for the State of Wisconsin from 1988–1991, serving under Governor Thompson.

When he founded The Pineries Bank, it had six million dollars in assets. Since then, it has grown be an institution with over $100 million in assets. Paul’s two adult children, Rachael and Justin, continue the tradition he began and operate The Pineries Bank as a local, independent community bank.

James K. Caldwell

Jim Caldwell has not only been instrumental in leading First Citizens State Bank for over 40 years but has helped mentor countless bankers over his 53 plus years in banking. His work ethic and drive to continually learn about our industry is truly amazing. He is a true champion of the industry!

Jim served on the Wisconsin Bankers Association Board of Directors and as President of the Board in 1993-1994. CBW later honored Jim as the Community Banker of the Year in 2012.

Jim became President and Chief Executive Officer of First Citizens State Bank in 1979 and led the bank through a period of expansion in the early part of this century, opening new branch offices and adding new offices through acquisition. Furthering his role as a leader in the banking industry, Jim was elected to serve as a Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago [1998-2006]. He served as Chairman of the Board during 2006.

As CEO of First Citizens State Bank, Jim has not only impacted the Whitewater area but Wisconsin’s banking industry through his community involvement. He has served on numerous committees and boards, providing direction and support for a wide array of organizations, including the Boy Scouts, Fairhaven Corporation, Whitewater Community Development Authority, Whitewater Kiwanis Foundation, Wisconsin Rural Rehabilitation Foundation, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Foundation, and Walworth County Economic Development.

James S. Dolister

Jim Dolister had a vision of a bank that would become an integral part of the community: a bank with heart and a goal of consistently exceeding customer expectations.

That vision came to fruition in 1995 when he founded Capitol Bank in Madison. As the bank grew, Jim recruited bankers who shared that same vision. “Treat customers the way you would want to be treated and do the right thing.” That was the concept Jim used to create a culture of empathy, professionalism, service, and integrity that became his legacy at the bank.

Jim served as Capitol Bank’s CEO and president for eight years. He was the Chairman of the Board until 2017.

Jim grew up in Racine and received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His banking industry experience began after graduation when he became a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) field examiner. He spent over 50 years as a banker in Milwaukee and Madison.

Jim was a centerpiece of his community through his service with many organizations like Madison Public Library, St. Thomas Aquinas, Energy Services – Keep Wisconsin Warm, Catholic Multicultural Center, Agrace Hospice, Madison Arts Center, and the Lions Club.

Eager Family

The Eager family banking began in Evansville, Wisconsin in 1916 when Ms. Gertrude B. Eager, purchased what was known as The Grange Bank for her son, Leonard P. Eager.

Leonard’s interest in banking proved fruitful, and The Grange Bank thrived under his direction and expanded its portfolio. Trust services were added to the bank’s offerings, and in 1940, Leonard announced the renaming of The Grange Bank to the Union Bank & Trust Company (UB&T). For the next 78 years, three generations of the Eager family provided leadership as Bank President while the bank held the Union Bank & Trust Company name. During that time, it expanded its offices to five additional communities.

Leonard was joined by his two sons, Leonard P. Eager Jr. and Alan Eager, in the 1950s. They worked in the bank well into their 90s. Alan’s sons, Christopher and Stephen, joined the bank in the 1980s. Chris retired in 2015, and Steve is still working in the banking industry in Wisconsin. In 2018, Steve was named the “Wisconsin Banker of the Year.”

Thomas F. Farrell

Tom Farrell was born and raised in Prairie du Chien where he graduated from Campion High School in 1960. He attended Marquette University for two years and graduated from Loras College in 1964. After college, Tom served our country by enlisting in the United States Marine Corps, attending USMC Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia, and Naval Aviation Training in Pensacola, Florida, ultimately rising to the rank of Captain.

While in the military, Tom was stationed in Vietnam and was attached to Marine Medium Helicopter Squad 163 where he was credited with flying over 660 combat missions. Tom began his banking career with M&I Bank, Milwaukee, in 1969. He next served at Charter National Bank, Pensacola, Florida, as head of the Trust Department and Personnel Officer.

Tom was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Peoples State Bank, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, in 1975. He retired from his role in 2007 and now serves as the Bank’s Chairman of the Board.

He played an important role with Wisconsin Bankers Association by joining the WBA Board of Directors in 1996. Tom also served as Chairman of the WBA Board in 2005. In addition to his distinguished military and banking careers, Tom’s dedication to helping others is demonstrated through his many years of service on the boards of various civic and faith organizations.

John F. (Jack) Kundert

Jack Kundert, Monroe, Wisconsin, was always about banking. He worked in the banking and financial fields for 48 years, serving positions from teller to President and CEO at the same bank in Monroe. Although the bank changed names over the years, one thing that never changed was Jack’s devotion to banking.

Jack’s education included UW-Madison, Madison Business College, and Stonier Graduate School of Banking, Rutgers University. He was also a licensed life insurance agent and real estate broker. He received numerous professional awards, including Outstanding Graduate of Madison Business College, Wisconsin Bankers Association Chairman, and Green County Bankers President.

Jack was a very active community member with many groups including the Yesteryear Auto Club, Jaycees, Moose Lodge, Kiwanis, St John’s United Church of Christ, Green County Agriculture Chest, Monroe Chamber of Commerce, and Green County Historical Society.

A major highlight of his outstanding career was the appointment by Governor Tommy Thompson as Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions. Although Jack came out of retirement to assume the position as Wisconsin’s top financial regulator, he considered it a challenge and learning experience that fit his extensive financial background. He brought solid leadership to the position when he instituted a task force dealing with a myriad of state and local financial issues of importance to all Wisconsin citizens.

E. David Locke

E. David Locke held numerous influential banking positions over nearly six decades. He joined McFarland State Bank in 1975, becoming Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer in 1977. The youngest Bank President and CEO in the United States at that time, according to IBAA.

He served as an original organizer and founding director of Bankers’ Bank and the Community Bankers of Wisconsin (CBW), and he was named Banker of the Year by CBW in 2006 and NorthWestern Financial Review in 2009. He was elected three times in state-wide elections to serve as a Director of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago from 2007–2018. He also served on the Boards of the American Bankers Association and the Wisconsin Bankers Association.

His contributions to the community are equally impressive. He served in the United States Air Force, 1967–1973, serving two active tours of duty. He received the Gold Leadership Award from Junior Achievement USA, its highest individual national award. David was named McFarland Citizen of the Year in 2009 by the McFarland Chamber of Commerce. While Bank Chairman, he donated two McFarland State Bank buildings to the community of Stoughton. One of those buildings is now Stoughton City Hall. The E. D. Locke Public Library, which opened in McFarland in 2005, however, may be the most profound symbol of generosity he has shown to the community his bank has served since 1904.

Richard (Dick) Pamperin

Dick Pamperin’s banking career spanned over 55 years, beginning in 1964 with PCA in Green Bay, followed by positions with FIC Bank of St. Paul, Minnesota and Gillett State Bank. In 1978, he joined Marion State Bank, now known as Premier Community Bank, serving as President for 27 years and Chairman of the Board through 2018.

His career was dedicated to banking, community, and personnel development, setting an example of what it meant to be a community banker. He served the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) as member of its Board of Directors and the American Bankers Association (ABA) as Chairman of the Community Bankers Council. Additionally, he served on the boards of directors of four other community banks, and he organized and served numerous economic development corporation and community foundation boards.

The careers of many other bankers grew under Dick as numerous bank officers from other financial institutions were developed under his leadership, including three bank presidents.

Dick was recognized by the Community Bankers of Wisconsin (CBW) in 1991 as Community Banker of the Year, ABA in 2007 with the Bruning Award for significant service to America’s agricultural and rural community, and the Wisconsin State Legislature in 2008 for over 40 years of exemplary service.

Steven R. Schowalter

Steve Schowalter is a 52-year banking industry veteran and a fourth-generation family owner of Port Washington State Bank. A Marquette University graduate, he served in successive positions of increasing responsibility, becoming President in 1991 and now serves as Executive Chairman and CEO. A source of pride has been Steve’s strategic emphasis on residential lending, leading to PWSB being the largest mortgage originator in Ozaukee County.

He is a 45-year member and past president of the Port Washington-Saukville Rotary Club, 28-year board member and past president of the United Way of Northern Ozaukee and a six-year board member of Portal Industries, Inc., a sheltered workshop. He dedicated 11 years of service on the Board of Directors for WBA’s FIPCO, WBA Insurance Trust, and WBA. Steve was also a director of the Greater Cedarburg Foundation, and earned the YMCA of Metro Milwaukee’s Key Leader and Volunteer of the Year Award for organizational and fundraising efforts. City and County Economic Development committee terms were also served through the years.

Steve was proud to represent Wisconsin banks as a member of the American Bankers Association Community Bankers Council from 2017–2020 and to be recognized as the WBA Community Banker of the Year in 2015 for his commitment to his communities and to his industry.

Frederick F. Schwertfeger

Frederick F. Schwertfeger became the CEO of Horicon Bank in 1982, leading his bank to employ over two hundred associates, with twenty branches, and $900 million in assets by 2020. Fred formed Sword Financial Corporation with his father in 1977, the parent company of Horicon Bank. The biblically-based leadership statement Fred developed using “Reuel’s Rules” from Exodus 18:21 has shaped the culture of Horicon Bank, which seeks bankers with Capability, Honesty, Respect, and Energy: CORE Virtues.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin and Northwestern University, Fred was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Security Agency during the time of the Vietnam War. His banking career began in London. Fred’s civic contributions include forming a community foundation, fundraising for a new hospital, and becoming a YMCA benefactor. Fred serves as an elder at Wauwatosa Bible Chapel and is the Vice Chairman of the board of trustees at Emmaus Bible College in Iowa.

Fred was honored by the Community Bankers of Wisconsin as “Banker of the Year” in 2014 as a result of his extensive commitment to the industry in addition to the communities Horicon Bank serves. He regularly encourages his colleagues to serve on Wisconsin Bankers Association committees and to further their education by attending the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jerry Smith

After working for a few banks and starting his own consulting firm, in 1990 Jerry Smith created First Business Bank, which quickly grew to encompass a successful, publicly traded financial services firm with more than $2 billion in assets, realizing his vision of becoming the bank of choice for businesses. As the first business-focused bank in the Midwest, First Business Bank expanded to employ more than 300 professionals, providing refined solutions to drive growth for companies and high-net-worth individuals.

Jerry was a founder and served as director of First Business Financial Services, Inc., from December 1989 to June 2006 and Chair of the Board from July 2006 until his retirement in 2018. His tenure included serving as Chief Executive Officer from December 1989–December 2006.

One of his greatest legacies is the corporate culture, which Jerry was instrumental in forming and sustaining. The one-page Statement of Beliefs, which every employee embraces, hangs on the walls throughout the bank and began with Jerry’s vision that clients come first!

Throughout his career, Jerry served on the boards of several community organizations including the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau, Madison Community Foundation, Aldo Leopold Foundation, and Dane County Natural Heritage Foundation.

Thomas M. Tubbs

Tom Tubbs’s passion for banking started at age 8 while working as a teller at the State Bank of Cross Plains with his dad. He was a State Bank Examiner prior to starting at the Bank of Sun Prairie in 1957, where he served for 61 years. He had 80 years in banking overall, which is an unprecedented achievement in the industry.

Tom’s banking accomplishments include the Lifetime Service Awards from the Community Bankers of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Bankers Association. He was an icon in banking circles, mentoring bankers across the state for decades.

One of his greatest joys was standing in the lobby greeting customers, putting their needs and the needs of the community first. This cemented the bank as a pillar in the community.

Tom served as president of the Chamber of Commerce which later awarded him the Community Business Leader’s Award. He received a Lifetime Service Award from the City of Sun Prairie, the Jaycee Service Award, and the Lion’s Melvin Jones Award. He was a member of The American Legion, and Sacred Hearts Endowment Committee.

Tom’s greatest love in life was his wife Rita of 62 years and their seven children. He maximized his time on earth by living life to the fullest.