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Class of 2021

Five individuals were honored by the Wisconsin Bankers Association for their excellence in banking, community service, and civic involvement. A celebration was held on Friday, October 29 at the WBA headquarters in Madison, where a Leaders in Banking Excellence Wall installation displays a tribute to outstanding current and former bankers. The wall was established in 2020, and the five Class of 2021 honorees join the 12 inaugural honorees.

“These leaders have made significant contributions to Wisconsin’s banking industry and to the economic wellbeing of our state,” said Rose Oswald Poels, WBA president and CEO. “Part of what makes them exceptional leaders is that they have inspired others to succeed in their professions and in service to their communities.”

The honorees in the 2021 Leaders in Banking Excellence class are: Jon Bernander, Bank of Wisconsin Dells; Robert Gorsuch, Oak Bank, Fitchburg; Mary L. Staudenmaier, The Stephenson National Bank & Trust (SNBT), Marinette; John Godfrey Thomson, The Bank of New Glarus; and Merlin E. Zitzner, Baraboo State Bank.

Read the bios of each of the 2021 Leaders in Banking Excellence honorees.

By Rose Oswald Poels

Each year, I have the honor of presenting WBA-member bankers with numerous honors and awards for their achievements and service to their banks and communities. Some are recognized for serving between 30 and 40 years, receiving a Lifetime Service Award. Others will offer their insight and skills for over half a century and are inducted into the 50-and 60-Year Club for their respective commitments. The legacies of these individuals are ever-expanding, and each award I give acts as a reminder, not only of the incomparable culture and community that draws bankers to provide their talents, but of the dedication that bankers continue to offer every day.

A recent article published in the Wisconsin Banker Daily highlighted a few of these bankers – both retired and still serving a full-time role at their bank – and gathered their thoughts on what it means to be a lifetime banker, their favorite memories, and what they hope for the future of community banking. Though this only captured a few of the many perspectives we are so fortunate to have, the number of those who have dedicated this amount of time, knowledge, and effort to our industry is something to truly be proud of. WBA recently highlighted and continues to display the accomplishments of a few of these bankers with its first Leaders in Banking Excellence class.

The ceremony for the Leaders in Banking Excellence Class of 2020 has concluded, but the celebration for these individuals is yet another way of honoring lifetimes of service, innovation, and philanthropy to our banks and surrounding communities. This celebration, of course, lives on through the Wall of Excellence, which is on display in the WBA headquarters building in Madison. From now through Aug. 10, 2021, the WBA is accepting nominations for the next class of the WBA Leaders in Banking Excellence. To nominate a banker to be recognized as a Leader in Banking Excellence for the Class of 2021 or to learn more about the applications, please contact me. You can also find more information here.

To those who have earned a Lifetime Service Award, have been inducted into the 50-60-Year Club, or have been honored with a much-deserved spot on the Wall of Excellence, I thank you for everything you have given and still give to the banking industry, both in Wisconsin and beyond. If your bank has individuals who should be recognized for 30, 40, 50, or even 60 years in the industry, please nominate them by completing the form found here. For any questions, please contact WBA’s Debbie Nabholz.

Twelve individuals are being honored by the Wisconsin Bankers Association for their excellence in banking, community service, and civic involvement. A celebration for this inaugural class was held on June 4 at the WBA headquarters in Madison, where a newly-built Leaders in Banking Excellence Wall installation displays a tribute to the selected current and former bankers. The event had been postponed from the fall of 2020 due to the pandemic.

“These leaders have helped shape Wisconsin’s banking industry into what it is today,” said Rose Oswald Poels, WBA president and CEO. “They exemplify the values of our association:  highest ethics, professionalism, and enthusiastic service to our industry and to our state. It is my privilege to host an honor wall of this type at our WBA headquarters in Madison.”

The honorees in the 2020 Leaders in Banking Excellence are:  Paul C. Adamski, The Pineries Bank, Stevens Point; James K. Caldwell, First Citizens State Bank, Whitewater; the late James S. Dolister, Capitol Bank, Madison; the Eager Family, the former Union Bank & Trust Company, Evansville; Thomas F. Farrell, Peoples State Bank, Prairie du Chien; the late John F. (Jack) Kundert, the former Bank One, Monroe; E. David Locke, the former McFarland State Bank; Richard (Dick) Pamperin, Premier Community Bank, Marion; Steven R. Schowalter, Port Washington State Bank; Frederick F. Schwertfeger, Horicon Bank; Jerry Smith, First Business Bank, Madison; and the late Thomas M. Tubbs, Bank of Sun Prairie.

To learn more about each of the 2020 Leaders in Banking Excellence honorees, please visit www.wisbank.com/excellence2020/.

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About the Wisconsin Bankers Association
Founded in 1892, WBA is the state’s largest financial industry trade association, representing more than 200 commercial banks and savings institutions, their branches, and over 21,000 employees. The Association represents banks of all sizes in Wisconsin, and nearly 98 percent of banks in the state are WBA members.

By, Cassie Krause