By Lynell Morgan
What has become home for Dave Sullivan was supposed to be a footnote in his life.
Forty four years after he first stepped foot in Elgin, he has officially retired as president of the Bank of Elgin. Sullivan sat down with the Elgin Review on Sunday and looked back at his years in Elgin and at the bank.
A native of Omaha, he served in the Army in Vietnam and returned home in December of 1971. His then-girlfriend-now-wife Joyce was finishing up her final semester at Wayne State College. In the spring of 1972, she signed a contract to teach at Elgin Public School.
“I moved into town, didn’t know a soul and didn’t have a job,” Sullivan shared. “I told her, ‘don’t sign your contract for next year because we’re not staying’,” he continued with a laugh. No one can deny there is a definite difference between Omaha and Elgin. Small town living is an acquired taste.
Sullivan soon found a job in insurance in Neligh. “I sold insurance for Bob Gaskill, Gaskill Insurance, for two years,” he said. The move to working in Elgin happened along by chance.
“Dick Draper had a young kid working down there (Draper Insurance) from Minnesota who’s dad had a heart attack. The kid quit and went back to Minnesota to help on the farm. I thought, ‘you know, I’ll just go down there and ask him for a job’ and so I did.” Draper hired Sullivan at that time and, while his office location and title has changed, he’s remained in that building for forty two years.
Sullivan began selling insurance and moved on to doing loans. In 1980, Sullivan was named vice president at the bank.
His biggest career move came in 1996. Dick Draper passed away and he was named the bank president and CEO. Around that time, the family was looking to sell the bank and insurance business.
“We got a group of local people together and bought it,” he said.
Everyone, no matter how much they love their job, thinks about their retirement.
“I had been thinking about it just in the last year or so,” Sullivan said. This past year, the Sullivans decided to spend a little more time “down south” during the winter months.
“Usually we take off and go a couple of weeks in the winter, to like Mexico or something,” he explained. “It’s always good to come back though. We went down to Arizona (this year), wanted to see what that was like. We rented a house for three months….we have a lot of friends from Albion down there.” Never one to waste time when he makes a decision, the next step surprised even him. “We were down there just a week or so and we ended up buying a house.”
“I talked to all the directors, I told them ‘I’m going to take off all winter months and when I come back I’m going to decide whether I’m going to work or not’,” Sullivan explained. Then with a grin he added, “I came back and I didn’t go back to work.” He did admit to needing a few days at the bank cleaning out his office. “Oh, there was still stuff in there from when Dick Draper was there.”
His biggest adjustment will likely be not seeing his staff and customers routinely. “I’m going to miss the people I work with and seeing my customers on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “We’ve been lucky, we’ve always had great people down there to work with. We’ve had really qualified people working there.” While the employees faces and names don’t change often, technology had tremendously changed the banking business.
“I used to do the daily statement, writing down every transaction. It could take two hours each morning, depending on how busy it was the day before,” he said. Now it’s all computerized and just prints out the next day.
Sullivan knows that the bank is in good hands. “Gary Arehart is taking over (as bank president) – he’s been taking over for the past couple of years anyway. We have a great, knowledgeable Board of Directors,” he noted. Sullivan will remain on the Board of Directors and is a shareholder in the locally-owned bank.
“It’s good to have a strong community bank. We’ve been a lot of support for the town, the schools, the churches,” Sullivan mused. “It’s nice that we could do that.”
Always a forward-thinker, Sullivan is preparing for whatever life throws at him. “I’ve got my cemetery plot bought. I always like to tell people that I started at the bottom and I’m working my way down.”
Joyce announced her retirement last month as librarian at the Elgin Public Library. Dave made his “official” this past week as bank employees and friends gathered to wish them both well.
So what does he see as part of his retirement years? “Golf. And golf,” he said about his time to be spent in Elgin during the summer months. He left his motorcycle in Arizona as there is a large group down there that rides so he’ll likely be putting in road time during the winter months. Along with golf.
By Lynell Morgan