Herald JournalHerald Journal, March 28, 2005

Vangens retiring from Security State Bank

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

Two long-time fixtures at Security State Bank Howard Lake, husband and wife Gary and Julianne (Julie) Vangen, will be retiring Thursday, March 31 after a combined total of 56 years of employment.

Gary is retiring as executive vice president and director, while Julie is leaving her post as vice president of operations, said Security State Bank owner John Forstrom. What's in it for YOU?

Gary, originally from Ellendale, and Julie, originally from Albert Lea, moved about six times before finding a home in Howard Lake.

“Every time we were able to move, we were able to advance in banking jobs,” Gary said. Upon graduating high school on a Thursday, Vangen began working at his first bank the following Monday.

They spent time in the communities of Hope, Albert Lea, Mason City, Iowa; Grand Junction, Iowa; Woden, Iowa; and eventually, in Howard Lake.

Their two sons, Jason and Daniel, both graduated from the local high school. Gary was instrumental in starting the Farm and Home Show (Howard Lake Business Expo) in 1981, and has been involved in Good Neighbor Days activities, has served on the board of directors of Howard Lake Industries, as well as serving as president of the Wright County Bankers Association.

“Anything with the community, I just love to get involved in and promote it,” Gary said.

Both agreed they will miss the customers and personal interaction on a daily basis the most.

“You try to give the best advice you can to help them improve their quality of life,” Gary said. “When you help somebody realize a goal or a dream, you feel good about it.”

“Gary and Julie are like ‘parents’ in that they have always been there,” Forstrom said. “None of us working here have known the bank without Gary and Julie’s presence. It will be an eerie feeling, to say the least.”

Forstrom noted that the Vangens will remain a part of the community, but because they are no longer at the bank on a daily basis, that will leave a “hollow void” that bank staff and management will overcome.

“We work as a team at the bank,” Forstrom said. “They were our ‘captains,’ but because we work together as a team, the transition or handing off of their knowledge and responsibilities will go smoothly.”

Julie ended her career as leader of the teller/booking staff. Her duties included scheduling of staff, cash management, compliance, and overall understanding of the booking function for the bank. Her length of experience was an asset for all to draw upon, Forstrom said.

“Julie could be asked to wait on customers one minute, and resolve intricate booking issues the next,” he said. “Her style of management was one of consistency and predictability without compromise. She was strong on accuracy and managed many changes throughout her years at the bank.”

Forstrom said the Vangens are both people of high integrity, and “their loyalty to the bank and its customers and employees is something to admire.”

“What all of us learned from Gary and Julie is that your word is your honor – and consistency in treating people with fairness is essential to being a successful person,” Forstrom said. “Fifty-six years of combined service is a remarkable achievement that few people earn anywhere.”

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