By Ivan Raconteur
Family banking has reached another milestone in Lester Prairie or perhaps two milestones.
First Community Bank of Lester Prairie is celebrating 95 years in business.
It is also a milestone for the Jilek family, which has owned the bank for nearly 40 of those years.
The bank will host an open house to celebrate its 95th anniversary Friday, Dec. 19 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the bank.
There will be coffee, punch, cheese and meat trays, and cupcakes.
Those who attend will receive a free gift, and will have a chance to register for gifts and certificates from local merchants.
Community banking has been the bank’s focus throughout its long history.
“Our motto is 100 percent interest in every customer,” current president Douglas Jilek said. “That means we give you our undivided interest. You are not just an account number to us.”
“We want people to know we’re still here on the corner,” Jilek’s wife, Sheila Jilek, commented. “We’ve been here a long time, and we know our customers by name.”
Both Douglas and Sheila say the Jilek family remains committed to the community.
Sheila said their goal is to make sure the community thrives.
Douglas said he has taken a proactive approach and tried to do what is feasible to promote the community.
“Lester Prairie has a positive downtown area, and people still want to run a business here,” Douglas commented.
The Jileks have worked to provide the services their customers want, and, although it is a smaller bank, Douglas said First Community Bank has adopted technology so it is able to offer many of the services provided by larger institutions.
The bank offers 24-hour telephone banking, Internet banking, check imaging, and has added a second drive-up lane.
Douglas said he hopes to add an ATM kiosk that will be available for the convenience of both drive-up and walk-up customers some time in 2009.
Three generations of the Jilek family have worked at the bank during the past 40 years.
Douglas’s father, Loren Jilek, began working at the bank in 1963, and purchased controlling interest and became president in 1969. Loren’s wife, Miriam, also worked at the bank.
Douglas has 30 years of banking experience, and joined the board of First Community Bank in 1985.
The bank acquired the Silver Lake branch in 1992, and Douglas took over as vice-president of that bank in 1995.
All three of Douglas and Sheila’s daughters have worked at one or both branches. JaNaye (Dressler), Kelsey, and Brooke have all started as custodians and also worked as tellers, Sheila said. Douglas and Sheila’s son, Blair, 9, is the only family member who has not yet worked in the bank.
Douglas also works outside the bank to promote the community banking industry.
He is currently serving as first vice chairman on the board of directors of the Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota.
In 2007, he was appointed to a three-year term on the board of the Bank Holding Company Association (BHCA). The BHCA is a non-profit trade association that serves the educational needs of bank holding companies in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and the upper peninsula of Michigan.
First Community Bank of Lester Prairie opened for business Sept. 15, 1913, and has served the community for 95 years. The Jileks and their staff plan to continue that tradition of serving the community well into the future.
Some highlights from the history of First Community Bank of Lester Prairie:
• Sept. 15, 1913 Farmers State Bank opened for business at a location next to the Scrimgeour Drug Store (near the current Central Cafe).
• 1932 Farmers State Bank purchased the building at 500 Central Avenue.
• 1920 Harold Milbrath joined the bank as assistant cashier.
• April 1969 Loren Jilek purchased controlling interest in the bank.
• 1973 bank remodeled, walk-up window added.
• 1974 Dale Mensing joined the bank as assistant cashier, later advanced to vice-president.
• 1982 bank remodeled, floor space doubled, exterior renovated, drive-through added.
• Jan. 1, 1992, Silver Lake branch acquired.
• 1995 Douglas Jilek took over as vice-president of Silver Lake branch.
• Jan. 1, 2001, Douglas Jilek took over as president of the Lester Prairie and Silver Lake branches.
List of presidents:
• Alvin T. Johnson 1913-1914
• Henry L. Simons 1914-1917
• Dr. J.B. Clement 1917-1958
• Harold Milbrath 1959-1963
• Harry Milbrath 1963-1969
• Loren Jilek 1969-2000
• Douglas Jilek 2001-present
Current board members:
• Douglas Jilek
• Sheila Jilek
• Fred Holasek
• Dale Mensing
• Jeff Engen