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History of First Federal Savings Bank of Washington

First Federal Savings Bank was established in Washington, Indiana in 1895.  The Bank’s organizational meeting was held on January 31, 1895 and its first Board of Directors included Hiram Hyatt, William Heffernan, Aikman Carnahan, Zed Benham, William A. Healy, Hamlet Allen, John M. Smith, E.A. Crosson and M.F. Burke.  The original officers of the Bank included N.H. Jepson, President; Albun Horall, Vice President; T.A. Crosson, Secretary; and R.C. Davis, Treasurer. 

During First Federal’s early years the following gentlemen served as President of the institution:

N.H. Jepson January 1895 – December 1915
William Heffernan January 1915 – May 1935
Winton Hyatt June 1935 – March 1953
Joseph P. Sinnott April 1953 – September 1980

Modern day leadership was first provided by John W. (Bill) Vonderschmitt. Mr. Vonderschmitt joined First Federal in November 1958 and was promoted to Secretary–Treasurer of the Bank in January 1965. Bill was elected to the Board of Directors in January 1971 and was later promoted to President and elected Chairman of the Board of Directors in January 1983. Under Mr. Vonderschmitts’ leadership, First Federal’s assets grew from $17 million in 1980 to over $34 million in 1990. In addition, the increase in the number of services that the Bank provided increased dramatically during Mr. Vonderschmitt’s tenure as President of First Federal. Bill retired in August 1990 from First Federal and was succeeded as President and CEO by Thomas O. Richardson. Mr. Vonderschmitt retired as Chairman of the Board of Directors in January 2011 and he continues today as an Advisory Director to the Board, and will be celebrating his 55th year of service to the Bank in 2013.

Other former employees of the Bank who distinguished themselves during their careers and who contributed greatly to First Federal’s success were Jean White, Donna Butcher, Jan Steimel and Nancy Elmore who each served the institution for over 30 years.  Jean White came to First Federal in August 1957 and was promoted to Assistant Secretary in September 1971.  Mrs. White was promoted in October 1980 to the position of Secretary-Treasurer and was placed in charge of the Bank’s bookkeeping department until her retirement in March 1993.  Donna Butcher joined First Federal on March 1, 1961.  She became an officer of the Bank in September 1980, when she was named Assistant Secretary.  Mrs. Butcher was promoted in March 1993, to the position of Secretary-Treasurer and placed in charge of the Bank’s bookkeeping department.  She was promoted to the position of Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in January 1998,  and she served in this capacity until her retirement on December 31, 2001.

First Federal’s original Loogootee office began operations back on November 16, 1934 when W.J. Reynolds, Will Mosier, O.D. Calvin, J.J. Hoffman, John T. Prather, Joseph P. Smith and J.L. McGovern organized the Loogootee Federal Savings and Loan Association of Loogootee, Indiana.  These seven men were the original Board of Directors of Loogootee Federal.  Mr. McGovern’s daughter, Mary McGovern, was the Association’s first and only full time employee from November 1934 until December 1936.  Rose McGovern, Mary’s sister, then joined the Association as bookkeeper in January 1937 and was later promoted to Secretary and Managing Officer in January 1956.  Miss McGovern remained with Loogootee Federal until her retirement on June 30, 1981, when the Association merged with First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Washington.  At the time of Miss McGovern’s retirement in 1981, Loogootee Federal was considered to be the last Federal Savings and Loan Association in Indiana to operate with only a single full time employee who acted not only as managing officer but also as loan officer and teller.

In early 2004, First Federal’s Board of Directors began working on a strategic plan to expand the Bank’s facilities to accommodate the substantial growth it had experienced over the years.  After extensive research and careful planning, the Board made the decision to purchase acreage located on Highway 57 South and a new Main Bank facility was constructed.  As a tribute to the City of Washington, the Board of Directors chose to pattern the new Bank building after Mt. Vernon, the home of George Washington.  The construction of the new Bank and the resultant expansion of its facilities provided First Federal with the increased capacity necessary to better serve the residents of Washington and Daviess County.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for the Bank building were conducted on June 30, 2005 and the new facility was completed in May 2006. First Federal Savings Bank began operations at its new location, 439 South State Road 57 on June 19, 2006. First Federal President, Tom Richardson, states that the new Bank facility has proven to be an extremely valuable asset to the institution.  “Our new Bank combined with our experienced staff and expanded services has provided First Federal with exceptional growth opportunities and results have dramatically exceeded expectations in all areas of bank operations.”

“As Washington’s only locally owned Bank, First Federal takes pride in providing all of our customers with outstanding service and personal attention.  In addition, as a mutual Federal Savings Bank, we do not have stockholders, but rather we are owned by our customer depositors.  Therefore, we do not have the risk of being purchased by a large out-of-town bank or bank holding company which allows us to control our own destiny.  As a mutual institution, we are not a prisoner of the bottom line, so we can afford to put our customers as well as our community first.  In today’s increasingly complex and impersonal financial institution environment, we provide our customers with an attractive banking alternative with our unique combination of stability, innovation, advanced technology and hometown service.”