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Kooiman to retire after 47½ years in banking

WORTHINGTON — After 47½ years in the banking business, former First State Bank Southwest President Alvin Kooiman is set to retire at the end of this year. An open house reception in his honor is planned from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Oxford Street location in Worthington.

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Kooiman set the end of 2013 as his retirement date four years ago, after health issues led to a doctor’s recommendation that he reduce some stress in his life.

“It seemed like a long time at that point, but it went in a hurry,” he said.

Now, as retirement day approaches, Kooiman said there are great people at the bank, trained in and ready to take over.

“It’s a good time to step down and let the younger ones take over,” he added.

Three years ago, Kooiman turned the presidential reins over to Greg Raymo and has slowly cut back on work hours, going from five to four and ultimately to three days per week on the job.

“It’s really worked great,” he said. “It gave Greg the time to get accustomed to everything and me an opportunity to ease out.”

With his retirement effective Jan. 1, Kooiman will retain his 30-year seat on the First State Bank Southwest Board of Directors. He also plans to take the month of January off before launching into a part-time job with the Independent Community Bankers of Minnesota organization. He’s served on its board of directors for eight years.

“I will call on community banks throughout the state and make sure they are getting everything they should be getting from the association, and if they’re not a member, to try to convince them to become a member,” Kooiman explained.

Those duties had been the responsibility of directors in the past, but with little time to do that work in addition to primary duties, it wasn’t getting accomplished.

Kooiman said the new role will mean quite a bit of travel around the state.

“So many of these bankers I know, but I know nothing about the community they live in or their bank,” he said. “This gives me an opportunity to see where they’re at.”

Kooiman is hoping his wife, Alvina, will join him on some of his longer trips around the state, although she continues to work part-time as a secretary at American Lutheran Church in Worthington.

With travel throughout the state in his retirement plans, Kooiman isn’t sure about venturing too much farther away from home at this time.

“My wife can’t leave the grandkids for more than two weeks at a time,” he said with a laugh.

The Kooimans just welcomed a new granddaughter to the family earlier this month. They now have 10 grandchildren, in addition to their four children. The family is spread out from Fulton, Ill., to Sioux Falls, S.D., with two in Iowa at Orange City and Sioux Center.

Kooiman already has a request from his son-in-law in Illinois to stay about five or six weeks during the spring and fall to help with planting and harvest.

“It’s hard to get farming out of a farmer,” said Kooiman, who grew up in a farm family near Edgerton.

He attended the Pipestone campus of what is now Minnesota West Community and Technical College for a degree in agriculture banking.

Kooiman’s career in banking began in 1965 in the First Bank system in Luverne. Two and a half years later, he transferred to the Worthington location, where his soon-to-be wife had taken a teaching job. He remained with First Bank for seven and a half years and then spent six and a half years at Worthington Federal Savings and Loan before being named First State Bank of Rushmore’s new Worthington branch manager when it opened in January 1984.

Kooiman said when he started with First State Bank of Rushmore, the bank had slightly more than $20 million in assets. Now, as First State Bank Southwest and its six locations —Rushmore, Leota, Edgerton, Pipestone and two in Worthington — assets had grown to $238 million at the end of 2012.

“We’ve had a super board of directors over the years that have really supported me and the bank,” Kooiman said. “And, we’ve got a great staff. You can’t run a bank on your own — you’ve got to rely on good people.”

As he leaves the bank in the hands of fellow employees, Kooiman said what he will miss the most is the relationship that he’s built with customers and other bankers.

“I’m really going to miss customer contact — a lot of good friendships and relationships,” he added.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at The Farm Bleat

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