Carol Krumme reflects on her 50-year career at Waukon State Bank as she retires; Public invited to open house reception January 12

Career of 50 years comes to a close ... A mainstay in the local banking community, Carol Krumme of Waukon (center in above photo), is retiring after a 50-year career serving the community at Waukon State Bank. She is pictured above with Waukon State Bank Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and former bank president Jim Sweeney (left) and current Waukon State Bank President Gail Prestemon (right). Submitted photo.

Where it all began ... Carol Krumme of Waukon is pictured above in the early days of her career at Waukon State Bank, which began in 1968. Krumme says there are so many changes in technology that have occurred in the banking industry since her first days working there in 1968 that she wouldn't be able to recall all of them, but she says she can always remember that she received excellent training with each update and that the staff worked together to get through each and every one of them. Submitted photo.

by Lissa Blake

After half a century of service to the community, Carol Krumme is retiring from Waukon State Bank.

It's been quite a career, according to Krumme, considering the job was something she says she just sort of “fell into” back in high school. Krumme has served as head teller at the bank for more than 25 years, and she has served in various other positions for the bank since she was a senior at Waukon High School in 1968.

“Our teacher, Miss Ernestine Holzer, started a pilot program for the office education students. She had 10 students she wanted to send out to businesses to work,” recalled Krumme about the beginning of what would turn out to be an enjoyable career for her.

Krumme and classmate Susan Smedsrud were sent to Waukon State Bank to work in the afternoons.

“We both started in bookkeeping, where we filed and helped sort checks. At the time, there were no computers, so we had to handle all the checks manually,” said Krumme.

Krumme and Smedsrud assisted the three head bookkeepers, who did the manual posting of all checks. “All the checks had to be alphabetized. Every customer had a statement and all checks had to be typed onto those statements,” Krumme said.

“There was no check ordering like we know today. We had counter checks. Susan and I would come each afternoon and file checks and do any bookkeeping duties they asked us to do. Then after I graduated, I asked if there was a job here. Dick Lomen, who was president of the bank here, gave me the job,” she said.

Krumme realizes how lucky she was to be given that opportunity for a career that would end up suiting her so well for the rest of her professional life. “We were so lucky how we just fell into it in school. They just sent us to the bank. We didn't interview. I've never even done a resumé,” she said.

A week after graduating from high school, Krumme started at the bank full time. At the time, each bookkeeper, including Krumme, had her own list of customer accounts to keep track of.

“I had my own set of books to take care of. I was the 'H through P' bookkeeper,” she remembered.

Approximately five years later, Krumme took her position as teller at window No. 1, where she has been a mainstay at Waukon State Bank ever since.

“I was the first person they would see when they came in the front door,” said Krumme.

Krumme said over the years, she has switched up her duties at the bank a little, completing stints at the bank's drive-through location and in other positions before returning to the teller line. “I kind of liked being around more people and staff and I think we were busier there,” she said.

In 1996, when Waukon State Bank opened Viking State Bank & Trust in Decorah, Krumme spent time there training the new teller staff. But Krumme said her favorite role has always been meeting and greeting the people who come into the main bank in Waukon.

“I have waited on many generations of the same families,” she said in reflection. “The customer service that we give here is what brings customers in. Personal customer service - that's small-town America.”

Throughout her career at the bank, Krumme said she has seen many changes. When she started, Lomen was president of the bank. She also worked under former Waukon State Bank President Jim Sweeney, and through her retirement has most recently worked for President Gail Prestemon.

She said she values many of the staff who retired before her, such as LaVon Kaeser, Bobbie Becker, Marjorie Strike, Mary Byrnes and Sharon Larson. And while technology at the bank has changed dramatically since she started, she felt she was always provided with excellent training.

“I remember even when we first had the computers installed, the people did a really good job of training us,” she said.

Krumme has lost track of the number of technological changes and upgrades she has worked through, but said the staff always worked through them together.

“I do remember, when they added the ATM machine, thinking 'I wonder if this is really going to be worth it.' But today, with the amount of business that is done through the ATM, we wouldn't be able to live without it,” she said.

Krumme also remembers many changes through the years, including a time when the bank was bought out by a holding corporation. She said when the bank reverted back to local ownership in 1987, she saw it as a positive.

“I feel local ownership is the best way to do it … you don't have to take orders from the big city,” she said.

Krumme said over the years, one thing she has learned is that every day in the teller line is a little different.

“You never know what people are going to say or do out there. There are a lot of people - maybe the older ones - they come in and maybe they don't even have banking to do. This business is about the relationships,” she said. “That's probably going to be the hardest part of retiring … I'll miss that."

Waukon State Bank President Gail Prestemon said the bank will miss Krumme as well.

“I cannot say enough about Carol and what she has contributed to the bank and our customers over the last 50 years. Carol is truly a caring person who thoroughly enjoys her customers and fellow employees. She treats everyone with kindness, respect and the excellent customer service that they deserve,” said Prestemon. “In the last 50 years, banking has changed dramatically, including the introduction of computers, electronic banking and so much more. Through all of these changes, Carol used her normal positive attitude to embrace the changes. She was always ready to take on a new challenge with a smile and humble attitude. It has been an extreme privilege to work with Carol for all of my years at Waukon State Bank. The entire staff at the bank will miss Carol very much. We all wish her good health and much happiness in retirement.”

Krumme said after retirement she hopes to visit her brother out west, and she will continue to be active in the Glenwood Lutheran Church and with her baking.

“I plan to take it easy for a while. I will miss all of my coworkers and customers I've served through the years, but I'll definitely be around town… I'll see them,” she said.

Members of the local community are invited to stop in and celebrate Krumme's retirement and her 50 years with Waukon State Bank Friday, January 12 in the main bank located on Main Street in Waukon from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Rate this article: 
Average: 4.4 (11 votes)