The Garnavillo Savings Bank
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History of The Garnavillo Savings Bank

The Garnavillo Savings Bank opened in 1904 after a group of businessmen and farmers started a new corporation to service the banking needs of the community. The records of the bank began on March 16, 1904.

The initial members of the Board of Directors were W. F Meyer, Henry Brandt, Henry Dettmer, J.A Hempeler, Henry Schlake, E.W. Kregel and J.P. Eckart. W.F Meyer was elected president and J.A. Hempeler vice president. The bank opened for business in a building on the site of the current library. The first cashier of the bank was Henry Dettmer who was also one of the directors. As the bank grew Henry Dettmer resigned as cashier and Charles Roggman was appointed the cashier and a second employee, Henry Kuhlman, was named assistant cashier. The minutes of the finance committee show the assets of the bank on October 8, 1904 to be $29,084.57.

By the next year, 1905, the bank was doing well enough that the directors decided to build a new bank building, a block and a half North on Main Street. The directors hired J.A. Hempler, also one of the directors, to build a new bank building for the sum of $4,500. The “Bank Clock” was added in 1913 and was moved to the banks new location in 1933.

As the bank and the community grew, additional people were added. Herbert J. Wirkler joined the bank on February 18, 1915 and continued in the bank until February 18, 1966, the fifty-first anniversary of his employment. He was absent for a short time as he served in the US Army in World War I in France in the Battle of Verdun. He returned to the bank after returning from France and served as long time cashier and member of the Board of Directors.

The bank continued to operate from the building on Main Street until1933 when the bank purchased the present building on the corner of Main and Niagara for $3,500 from the Farmer’s State Bank, which went out of business as a result of the Great Depression. The Great Depression seriously impacted the entire community, however, The Garnavillo Savings Bank was successful in surviving the depression and did it in a way that few other banks were able to do. Several farmers lost their farms to the bank, however, the bank cooperated with those farmers and they were able to recover their farms after the Great Depression. With the entire country in very serious condition the Federal Government, by Senate File 33, held all bank deposits in trust and permanently devalued them. The Garnavillo Savings Bank, many years later, decided to repay those funds and got special permission from the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (FDIC) and the Iowa Department of Banking. This was a step that very few other banks accomplished.

After World War II, Norris Kuenzel joined the bank in 1946 and has accomplished an amazing 59 years of service to the bank and the community. Norris is now an Honorary Director and still maintains an office at the bank. The minutes of the board of directors show the assets of the bank on December 23, 1954 to be $2,425,959.94

The bank has expanded in its present location several times; including a board room in 1955, a new lobby in 1978 and a drive up facility and more parking and additional offices in the 1993 and further renovation in 2004.

William Robinson, a graduate of Iowa State University, joined the bank in 1986. He was elected to the board of directors in 1993 and is the current President and Chief Executive officer of the bank. The minutes of the board of directors show the assets of the bank on December 31, 2004 to be $25,512,492.12

During the history of the bank, now over 100 years, a number of people have served on the Board of Directors in addition to the current directors and the directors above who founded the bank. They include:

A.J Hempeler, H.J Eulberg, Philip I. Eulberg, H.C. Kuenzel, W.B. Kuenzel, Kurt Kuenzel, H.J. Wirkler, A.J. Wirkler, Elmer J. Kregel, H.D Kregel, Donald E. Kregel, Loraine Meier, Chas. Roggman, Albert Schlake, A.J. Kregel, Wm. Allyn, J. Fred Wilker, A.G. Backhaus

As of the annual meeting on June 14, 2013 the shareholders elected the current directors:

Norman E. Wirkler, John E. Kregel, James E. Meier, William H.H. Robinson and Elizabeth A. English

Elizabeth A. English is new director in 2010 and she, with director Robinson, form a “new generation” of directors to help lead the bank successfully into the future. They and other directors, John E. Kregel, director since 2005, James E. Meier, director since 2005 and Norman Wirkler, director since 1966 bring extensive business and banking experience to round out the leadership and management in the bank.

Then, Now and Always, The Garnavillo Savings Bank will be there to serve you.

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