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Loosbrock is link to Lismore bank's history - and future

Mark Loosbrock is just the sixth president in the 114-year history of the State Bank of Lismore. His grandfather and father also both served as president of the bank. (Beth Rickers/Daily Globe)

LISMORE — The lower level of the State Bank of Lismore is dedicated to preserving the past. Equipment that was once essential to the banking industry — manual typewriters, original alarm system, interest calculator and other antique gadgets and furniture are on display as a reminder of the financial institution’s 114-year history in the community.

But upstairs, the focus is on the future and providing the best service possible to the bank’s customers. Overseeing the bank’s forward direction is Mark Loosbrock, who has been president of State Bank since 1990, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

“I’m only the sixth president,” he noted, pointing to photos of his five predecessors, all now deceased, that hang on the lobby walls.

State Bank was founded by pioneer businessmen Emil Graf Sr. and A.J. Rice in 1900, shortly after tracks for the Burlington line of the Rock Island railroad were laid through the Lismore site. The bank’s original ledgers are among the artifacts housed in the bank’s basement.

Mark’s grandfather, Leo Loosbrock — a World War I veteran — was elected assistant cashier in 1914, and eventually became president after Rice’s death in 1939.

Mark’s father, Marvin Loosbrock, joined his father in the banking business in 1937. Robert Sell succeeded Leo Loosbrock as president in 1942.

Meanwhile, like most young men of his generation, Marvin Loosbrock went off to serve his country during World War II, from 1943-1946 in the U.S. Army. Except for that military hiatus, Marvin worked in various capacities at State Bank for 53 years. He became president of the bank in November 1974.

Marvin and his wife, Lois, had three sons — Gary, Steven and Mark — and two of the three joined the bank staff. Steven’s career led him to work for Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Gary retired three years ago as the bank’s executive vice president, but remains chairman of the board of directors.

“I worked here growing up, doing posting in the back room,” recalled Mark about his first banking tasks. “I think all of us did a little time here.”

In college at St. John’s University, Mark initially followed a different career path, but knew he’d eventually end up back in his hometown.

“I actually had an elementary education major and was one credit short in economics,” Mark continued, explaining the reasoning behind his choice of major with a chuckle. “You could go over to St. Ben’s if you took elementary ed, and all the girls were over there.”

But when Mark began applying for teaching positions, he was disheartened by the lack of incentives for teachers to become leaders in their community.

“If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it right,” he reflected. “I wanted to go where there was a little more opportunity, and I love small-town Minnesota — especially Lismore. And Dad was getting up there in age, and I figured it was a good opportunity.”

Mark worked his way up through the bank ranks, starting as assistant cashier, and became president upon his father’s death in 1990.

Now 64 years old and looking back on his own start in the business, Mark said one of the challenges is to enable opportunities for future generations of young people in the rural area of southwest Minnesota.

Mark and wife Jeanne — an Adrian native he met while singing at a wedding — have three children and three grandchildren, with a fourth expected in June. Sons Andrew and Matthew have come on board the bank, Andrew as a compliance officer and Matthew as a farm inspector and insurance agent — along with Gary’s son, Troy, who is current vice president. Daughter Jessica is employed as an activities and social services director at a senior care facility in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The Loosbrock family takes pride in having a fourth generation now working at the bank and retaining local ownership in a time when few small towns even have a bank any more.

“It’s not a detached facility,” said Mark. “This is our base. You are strongly motivated for your community when you are locally owned.”

Mark credits the bank’s long-term success to its employees, some who have been there for the long-term. For instance, the bank’s cashier, Ellen Henning, has been employed there for 32 years.

“This wouldn’t have been possible without the great staff, past and current, who have been instrumental to any success the bank has had,” he said.

When Mark came back to Lismore and joined the bank staff, he recalls its assets were at $3 million. As of last November, that number was at $48 million.

Another strong asset in the community is the Lismore Cooperative Telephone Company, noted Mark.

“My grandfather, my father and I have all been secretary-treasurer of the phone company,” he explained. “Every year we put a million dollars back into the community, paying out in dividends to current and past subscribers. They get their checks on Dec. 1. … We have our own long distance, Internet, and we keep looking at expanding it. There’s also a group that founded the Lismore Endowment Fund, and the telephone company was a big pusher of that.”

In addition to the telephone cooperative, the Loosbrock clan proudly supports many other community endeavors. Matthew, for instance, is president of the Lismore Booster Club and serves on the fire department and rescue squad.

Retirement might be drawing close for Mark and he takes more time off these days for golfing and extended winter vacations to Arizona, but he still finds a lot of satisfaction in coming to work every day.

“I get a kick out of being a problem-solver, making it happen and seeing someone have success,” he explained. “I like to see what needs to get done, what resources are out there to get it done, and match them up.”

Currently, State Bank of Lismore is working toward implementing a remote banking system — a project being spearheaded by Troy and which Mark freely admits to not understanding the intricacies of the technology —which should be in place by next year. But Mark believes it will set the bank firmly on the path toward the future and help Lismore residents retain their ties to their community bank even if they move away.

The advanced technology is a far cry from the bank’s original handwritten ledgers that are stacked on a shelf in the bank’s board room. Mark particularly enjoys showing such antiquities to the youngest patrons who come through the bank’s doors.

“We pride ourselves on our history,” he said. “Once a year we get students here from Adrian who participate in our Saving with Mandy program, and we give them a tour. My job is to bring them downstairs to our museum of sorts of all the old stuff preserved from the bank. They seem to get a real kick out of that.”

Mark’s enthusiasm for the bank and the community he calls home is evident.

“I enjoy doing what I do so much,” he admitted.

Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at 376-7327.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

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