It was a beautiful brisk Minnesota morning back in the Autumn of 1980 as Sy Foss, the President of the Bank of Willmar, Minnesota and I made the five block walk to Norm’s Tallackson’s office. As we walked, there was a slight breeze carrying the last traces of fallen leaves burning in the distance. Winter was coming.
I was producing a series of radio commercials about the life of Otto Bremer, the Founder of the Bremer Bank Group and Otto Bremer Foundation. Norm Tallackson, then in his 90’s, had known Otto Bremer personally. We were on our way to interview Norm.
Sy had told me that Norm had long since retired from his position as
President of the Bank of Willmar but that he kept a small office to look after his own personal business interests.
After the introductions were made I let Sy do the interviewing, as he had suggested it would make Norm feel more comfortable.
I ran the hand held tape recorder.
Sy asked Norm about the “Great Willmar, Minnesota Raid,” a famous bank robbery by the Machine Gun Kelly Gang that had taken place at the bank in Willmar on July 15,1930:
Sy : So, Norm you were there when they robbed the bank of Willmar?
Norm: (Laughs) Yeah, but they did it anyway! (Laughs)
Norm went on to tell the story about the robbery, the three people who were wounded and the whole town being in a panic over their losses and how Otto Bremer, a majority owner of the bank, came out from St Paul and held a Town Hall Meeting where he personally guaranteed to handle the losses out of his own pocket. This was back in the days before FDIC Insurance.
Norm spoke of how he had worked night and day on the procedural accounting details to follow through on Mr. Bremer’s promise. Then Norm reflected back on a personal conversation he had with Otto Bremer.
Norm had told Otto Bremer, “When I finish this job of tracking down all the details and get all these folks their money back I think I’ll be able to retire from banking in peace.”
Norm said Otto winked and replied, “Well, then Norman, maybe you better slow it down a little because we don’t want to lose you. You’re too valuable to the bank.” As Norm was speaking his eyes lit up like a 10 year-old at Christmas time.
Norm went on to tell us of how he and four other bankers formed and founded what is now the Independent Community Bankers of America. (ICBA)
On that beautiful Minnesota Autumn morning as I listened to Norm Tallackson humbly reflecting back on his incredible life’s work in his community, I remember thinking,
“These are the kind of people that I want to work with.”
Gary Michaels is the Founder/Executive Producer of MTI Studios and Gary Michaels Online. Since entering the Brand Syndication field in 1980 he has produced Syndicated Branding Campaigns for over 5,000 local and regional advertisers throughout the US, Canada,New Zealand and Australia. (Photo by Thinkstock)
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