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Credit Unions Celebrate 75 Year Anniversaries

2015 is a big year for credit union anniversaries in Missouri! Six of our credit unions will celebrate 75 years in business; here's the story of two of them. 

TelComm Credit Union Celebrates 75 Years Serving the Ozarks
On June 8, 1940, Springfield Telephone Employees Credit Union opened with eight members, all of whom deposited $5 to start the credit union. Springfield Telephone Employees Credit Union largely had Harry Duewel, a longtime Southwestern Bell employee, to thank in getting the credit union off the ground after he recognized the inherent value in providing onsite financial services to his fellow coworkers and their families. As a result, TelComm membership was provided to Southwestern Bell and its employees as a financial benefit, while embracing the credit union philosophy of “People Helping People.”

Today, what started as a modest eight-member enterprise has grown into a thriving credit union of more than 17,000 members; in addition, that initial $40 contributed by the founding members has grown to $135 million in assets.

TelComm continues operating on the “People Helping People” principle today, with four branches in Springfield, one in Nixa, and one in Republic. Membership is open to anyone who lives or works in Greene, Christian, Lawrence, Webster and Polk Counties, or is employed by or retired from a TelComm Select Employee Group, and/or is related to a TelComm credit union member.

“All of our staff and volunteers are so very grateful for our credit union’s founding fathers who had the vision, courage and commitment to charter TelComm 75 years ago,” says Don Ackerman, president of TelComm Credit Union. “They not only embraced the credit union cooperative philosophy of ‘People Helping People’—still very much alive today, but they also took their responsibility to enhance the lives of our members very seriously. In fact, we have numerous families with three and four generations of TelComm members, and we treasure the role we have been able to play in their lives and in our community.”

TelComm Credit Union provides financial services for members, but unlike banks, are not-for-profit, which means any profits are returned to members in the form of lower (or no) fees, free checking accounts, lower rates on loans and better interest rates on savings accounts. TelComm Credit Union was recently voted Best Credit Union by readers of the Springfield News-Leader for the tenth year in a row. 

Caption: TelComm Credit Union shows their appreciation for members. 

CommunityAmerica Credit Union
TWA Club Credit Union opened its doors on March 19, 1940, while Trans World Airlines (TWA) was a major American airline, with working capital of only $1,069. The first loans were made to employees for $5 until payday with 5 cents charged for interest. With more and more people driving cars by 1940 and desiring loans to help finance them, TWA Club Credit Union grew its assets to $20,361 with 644 members by the end of its first year.

TWA Airlines experienced financial hardship during the early ‘90s, which led TWA Club Credit Union to think of a way to best preserve the future of our members and our institution. While the airline was struggling, the credit union was still growing strong. With that in mind, we decided it was time for a name change. In 1992, TWA Club Credit Union became Members America Credit Union. The new name reflected a greater sense of community, with a heightened focus on what was most important – our members.

Yellow Transit Credit Union is established in 1957. It would later change its name to Yellow Financial Credit Union in 1993, and then to CommunityAmerica Credit Union in 1997. In 1998, Members America Credit Union partnered with CommunityAmerica Credit union, keeping the CommunityAmerica name.

They have grown to more than 178,000 members and assets totaling more than $2 billion, making CommunityAmerica one of the largest credit unions in the country. They have 29 branches and 463 employees. While many things have changed for the credit union, one thing has remained the same. All it took to open a TWA Club Credit Union membership account was a silver dollar. It still only takes $1 to open an account today!

“This is our 75th year in Kansas City, and what a year it's been so far; we opened our first Community Financial Center focused on innovation in member-service and technology and launched a series of contests/offers to celebrate our values, employees and members,” says Lisa Ginter, CommunityAmerica CEO. “Our growth is stronger than ever thanks to the superb leadership and passion seen throughout our organization, and our cooperative model, which allows us to give so much more back to our members. Moving forward we plan to build upon our community focus and commitment to our members’ financial success to ensure we always offer a caring and empowering financial alternative.”

Other credit unions celebrating 75 years include: Four Four Credit Union (St. Louis), Kansas City Credit Union, MAWC Credit Union (St. Louis), and Proctor & Gamble St. Louis Employees Credit Union (St. Louis).

If your credit union is listed above, please send additional information to Sharon Bahr so we can share your history. 

Caption (top): TWA pilot George Duvall (at right) founded TWA Club Credit Union on March 19, 1940. Standing at left is Warren Pierson, chairman of the TWA Board.

Caption (bottom): CommunityAmerica and CUSO employees celebrated CommunityAmerica’s 75th anniversary at a Presidents Day celebration on February 16 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kansas City, MO. Including the CUSO, we have 667 employees!