By Frank J. Diekmann
It’s said we’re supposed to ring out the old as we ring in the new with each calendar change, but let’s face it–it’s never been an equal proposition and the attention is always to the latter. So…
Before we embrace 2019 and the more than four-million new CU members who joined in the past year, I invite you to spend a moment or three in remembrance of the several-hundred credit unions no number of fresh sign-ups seemed able to save.
It’s a sad yet fitting tradition I have long celebrated, to tip our hats a final time to all the pages of CU history that have turned for a final time, taking with them thousands of board meetings and debates, long days and worked-through holidays, high hopes and sometimes low results, unlocked doors and a fresh pot of coffee in the morning and the poured-out coffee before locking the door at night, and that small individual victories that added up to big results in making people’s lives better in ways we shall never know.
So Many Questions
Once again, we close out another year with questions, so, before we wade too deeply into 2019, let us wonder in perpetuity over whether it was traffic redirected by those newfangled in-car nav systems that finally did in Route 1 CU? Why did Smith & Nephew Employees finally cry “uncle,” and why wasn’t Floodwood Area CU able to remain afloat?
Speaking of floating, what became of you Tri-Rivers CU and Bent River CU? Cash flow problems? And what of Port Alliance FCU—could it not find a safe harbor?
In a world of “branding” in which names are increasingly generic and meaningless, we would be remiss were we not to mourn the loss of marvelous CU monikers such as Enchanted Mountains and Aurora and Ocean Crest and Meadows, names so lovely even the good members of The CU for the Blind and Visually Impaired could see them (at least until they, too, turned in their charter). Perhaps the four of them should have merged to create the most scenic credit union in history—Enchanted Aurora Ocean Meadows CU. I’d join just for the picture on the plastic cards.
Roger & Out
2018 will be remembered as the year away went Newaygo (County Service Employees), when Workers stopped working, when the lights went out at Kilowatt Community, when Rogers Employees announced it was “roger and out,” and when Simply Service became simply gone.
As we do each year we question who delivered the news to members of Charlottesville Postal and Harbor Area Postal Employees? Was it governance issues that did in City of Fairbanks, Oakland County, Portsmouth VA City Employees, Waynesboro Employees, and First PA TWP Employees credit unions? And where did members of Times Free Press CU first read the news? The same could be asked of members of a CU named Reading.
Holding Out Hope
We don’t know it to be true but we shall forever hold out hope there was one final whistle that faded slowly away as South Shore Railroad EMP disappeared down the tracks; that members of Gorton’s of Gloucester Employees pulled on their yellow rainslickers one last time before sitting down to a fish dinner, and that there was a rousing rendition of Yellow Rose at the closing gavel during the board meeting of Tip of Texas CU.
Most of all, we cling to the faith they went out with a blazing four-color, high-res pictorial of all the financial worlds to which they had journeyed with members at National Geographic Credit Union.
The shuttering each year of credit unions always brings with it some sad ironies, as discovered by members of Memberfocus Community (apparently it wasn’t), Families First (alas, no more), Health Employees (who was monitoring the pulse of the balance sheet?), and why weren’t First (Cheyenne) and First (United) built to last? We can add to that list by further noting that one community is now minus a Piedmont Plus.
Strength in Community?
The old saying has long taught us there is “strength in community,” so what do we make of the closures of Wood County Community, Connecticut Community, Pennformer Community, South Community, Milledgeville Community, and NU Community? We are similarly left befuddled that what we’ve always been taught about the certain spirit may have been a myth, as demonstrated by the closure of Cando CU.
As JC, FDR and LBJ have all demonstrated, those who transcend time need only their initials, which makes the demise of MSTC, WNMH, NGH, RTA Hayden, OTS Employees, WSP, and EBSCO all the more mysterious.
Once again, the Grim Charter Reaper traversed all parts of the map, and there was just no place to hide for CUs called Midwest, North Olmstead Schools, Central Valley, Central Kansas, Wenatchee Valley, Dallas, Savannah and South Hills Healthcare. The Reaper came calling for those that seemed disguised as new hedge funds (Triad Partners), that sounded distinguished and time-tested (Old Dominion) and even those whom Millennials surging into urban areas couldn’t save (Metropolitan).
What About the Employees?
And we assume that as they signed off on the final merger papers the members of Carle Employees, Taft Employees, Caano Employees, Mico Employees, and Worzalla Publishing Employees were all well taken care of, but our hope is the same can be said for the employees of all the Employees.
No, we haven’t forgotten you, credit unions named Agassiz and Rafe and Monad and Louchem and Kekaha and Dugway and Kit Tel—may the CUs into which you have merged save a page on their websites to forever memorialize your histories.
And perhaps it’s due to the political climate, but our cynical first response to the news a CU named Promise closed was because it had been founded by politicians.
Before 2018 is too far gone, we have other questions. Who broke it to the kids at P.S. Local 821? Had there been a problem with member relationships escaping at Credit Union of Leavenworth County? What led to the lack of cooperation at Co-op Toledo? And we’ve heard of his brother Big, but what exactly is a Borinquen Sur?
And was it really any surprise there was a merger in the cards for Centralalliance after it had earlier merged two words?
All those questions asked, you’re likely feeling pretty confident about your prospects in 2019, confident your CU will never join this list or be mentioned in this column. And perhaps you’re right. Just never forget that if a credit union named Bulls Eye couldn’t hit its targets, really, who can?
Frank J. Diekmann is Cooperator in Chief at CUToday.info and can be reached at Frank@CUToday.infoor @FrankCUToday.