By Frank J. Diekmann
They deserve so much more than being cold digit data points with no life beyond a cell in an Excel spreadsheet. 13. 18. 12. 219. So let’s not forget them.
“They” are the number of credit unions that disappear in mergers, the acquired, not the acquirer, anonymous and forgotten each month and then, to pile on some CAMEL-sized ignominy, buried even more anonymously in the year-end numbers.
There was excitement once. A dream. An idea. A business plan. A mountain of paperwork and then, finally, a letter or maybe a phone call and perhaps even the occasional personal visit from the regulator, with news that a charter had been granted. There were handshakes, maybe celebratory cigars.
And then years of growth and challenges, board meetings in church basements and sponsor company offices, arguments over the numbers, victories with the numbers, debates around the numbers, until finally, numbers that didn’t look good or hold promise, and ultimately, another credit union that just became a number.
Before the framed photos and long-unviewed files and paper newsletters three-hole-punched in a black vinyl binders are bagged up and tossed by cleaning crews into the dumpster, CUToday.info pauses at the unmarked graves of credit unions that we lost during 2014, to remember them one last time.
I mean, how could we not note that the last day at FirstDay FCU was also the first day of its last day, or not remember with a smile Blennerhassett FCU, where if they answered the phone too quickly you always felt obligated to respond, “gesundheit.”
We’ll forever be left wondering what lessons were learned and are now forever lost at Northland Educators, Moorhead Teachers, School District 40, Central Washington University, Eastern Michigan University, and Huntington Schools?
How Long Do You Think They Were Waiting?
And what about Newington VA FCU? We just have to suspect that it was actually closed in 2003 but the paperwork wasn’t processed and the examiner couldn’t get an appointment until 2014.
The NFL team missed the playoffs, but at least they have next year. The same can’t be said, I’m afraid, for 49er Federal Credit Union.
We’re curious as to where a “social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage” will go now that we’ve bid good-bye to Lea Community, Iowa Community, Grove Community, Kula Community, Lacamas Community, and Morrison Community?
We can only assume that they saw the end coming in crystal clear high-def at HD York FCU, that the former staff at Cowlitz will be relieved to no longer have to listen to yet another bad joke about, “hey, what’d say we stepped in?,” and that the next of kin to Wacopse FCU received a sad phone call that it is now Wacorpse.
Looking for a lesson from all this for 2015? Maybe drop the “employees” from your name, as Menasha Employees, ITT Employees, Ameritas Employees, IBW Employees, and Kennametal Employees will tell you. That seems to hold true even when the word is part of something snazzy sounding, like International Airline Employees FCU, which has pulled into the gate after its final flight.
Is it really any surprise given how Congress and state legislatures handle their finances that State Employees CU (Florida), Boulder Municipal Employees, Golden West Cities, and Santa Cruz County Employees filed their last 5300?
We shall continue to ponder whether it was aspergillus, cladosporium and stachybotrys atra that finally did in Wiremold FCU, and to observe how sad it was that a co-op owned by more than 500 dairy farms lost their own co-op when Darigold FCU went sour.
Lessons We Learned
We learned this year that our parents were right, life isn’t fair, Mayfair; that even a spirited “Rock Chalk” couldn’t save Jayhawk; that Pioneer CU shall blaze new paths no more, and that no matter how lovely a name may sound the fate can still be ugly, as Bay Winds, Blue Spruce, Park Side, and Lakeview will attest.
Perhaps you can share with me the answer to where all the reverends shall do their financial business now that Parsons Pittsburg has closed shop, or why all the parsons and ministers and their prayers couldn’t save Greater Institutional A.M.E. Church CU.
It may be just a single paragraph moment, but we still want remember you, Matteawan and Laclede and Dole Wahiawa and EdTech and Englewood and Central Star and Cardinal and Tarcana and Georgia Coastal and Hanover and Grand Rapids Family and Norsco (we’re not positive, but we think the latter is one of the armies on Game of Thrones, so, really, who wouldn’t expect its bloody demise?)
It may be good to be great and great to be greater, but that’s still one step short of greatest, as Greater West Haven and Greater Minnesota will certainly tell you.
It’s worth observing that this year before Ashworth could be merged, someone actually had to calculate just how much was ash worth, and that, apparently, no matter which way they turned, there was no help to be found for South Western FCU or Southeast Michigan.
We have to believe the end didn’t come as a surprise to VARO #319, not after they watched VARO CUs #1 through #318 find themselves entering into mergers.
But what we will continue to wonder is whether the dry and cracked hot dogs are still turning on the rollers under the light bulb at Bi-Mart FCU, whether Compaction America was merged or compacted, if NAFCO belonged to NAFCU, who turned out the lights at IBEW Local 816, and how well the final story was told at Communicating Arts CU.
Bowing Our Heads
We bow our heads to remember that despite what they say about if at first you don’t succeed, Tri-CO FCU decided it just couldn’t tri, tri again. Don’t believe them? Then ask Tristate.
We trust someone wrote a plaintive, twanging ode to sittin’ on a the tailgate of an old truck with a good dog, a cold beer, and memories of an ex-wife or three when Nashville Credit Union penned its final lyric.
Hampton Roads Postal reached the end of its own road, and put down its mail sack next to that of Lawrence Postal Employees CU. We assume members were sent a death notice via first class.
Did you see these headlines during the year and not believe them? Oshkosh Central shuttered? B’gosh, yes. Endura Financial closed? Indeed, it didn’t Endura at all.
Is there really any other way to describe the demise, respectively, of Louisiana Farm Bureau and Farm Bureau Credit Union as anything other than having bought the farm, or to note that the train has left the station forever more for Loudon Depot Community CU.
Let us forever document that 2014 was the year American Meter Employees FCU didn’t measure up, when Nail Workers Credit Union got hammered, when San Antonio Water System Credit Union was, fittingly, liquidated, and Hose Employees CU was, well, hosed.
How often have we heard that “There is no ‘I’ in team,” and apparently, for Three I CU, no “I” in future, either.
Even being a long-time staple of the credit union conference circuit on Waikiki beach couldn’t help stave off a final sunset for Sheraton Hawaii Employees.
We wonder how often when talk turned to Les Bois Credit Union that someone sarcastically remarked, “more girls?”
Am I the only one investigating, or is someone else on the case and trying to uncover whether it was strychnine or sodium cyanide that finally did in Chemical Credit Union?
The RIP On An Alphabet of Names
We also RIP DT&I, PMH, SJB, FMC, PMH, SJH and TWE, known perhaps by their formal names to strangers, but by their initials to those who knew them well.
This was also the year that being all about health wasn’t enough to keep the patient from flat lining, as Health 1, Healthcare Family, Sacred Heart Hospital Employees, and Wesley Health Systems will testify—if they were still around to do so.
Among their ranks was St. Joseph Mercy Pontiac Hospital FCU, which finally collapsed under the weight of its name and then found, ironically, no mercy.
We pause to remember that SummitOne shall never summit one again, that MDOT finally met a pothole it couldn’t fill, that Alliance had no choice but to enter into one, that Resources Federal, alas, apparently lacked them; that Best Source seems not to have been, and that in the great ironies of 2014, Tradition no longer is one, and Life Line couldn’t find one.
Finally, we look back at 2014 in sadness at those that shall never see 2015, now just pages in the credit union history books and more small markers in that Great Co-Op Cemetery. And we close by remembering that among them is one Tombstone Federal.
Frank J. Diekmann is Cooperator in Chief at CUToday.info and can be reached at Frank@CUToday.info.