As Interra Credit Union celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, it also celebrates an 80-year member, Harriet Kruse, the longest tenured living member. In many ways, the credit union and Harriet have grown up together.
Harriet Bainter was born on Jan. 15, 1932, during the Great Depression and about the same time Edward Filene was in Goshen, Ind., talking to a group of township Farm Bureau members and Farm Bureau Co-op about starting a credit union. A month later, on Feb. 23, six men and one woman deposited $19.50 to obtain the charter for Elkhart County Farm Bureau Credit Union. Burnette Berkey, Harriet’s uncle and a co-op employee, was one of them.
As a gift to his niece, Berkey opened a savings account for her, making her the 23rd member of the credit union. The board report of March 1932, shows that her account had a balance of 75 cents. At the same time, the credit union’s balance was $310 in deposits and two loans totaling $175.
After she finished high school, Harriet went to work at the Farm Bureau Co-op Bristol office in the spring of 1950 and worked there until 1956. It was there she met her husband, the late Owen Kruse. Then she took a break to be a full-time mom. Kruse rejoined the staff at the Goshen Co-Op in 1965.
Jack Sheets, who started working at the credit union in 1976 and has been president since 1987, recalls that when he was a young member, Kruse gave him a motorcycle loan.
After 25 years of service, Harriet Kruse retired in 1995.
Interra Credit Union, based in Goshen, Ind., has assets of $577 million and 48,700 members.