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<p>COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – And so it was finally the last hurrah-the last goodbye for Carroll D. Beach, the much acclaimed president of the Colorado Credit Union League who is retiring next month after 29 years on the job. During a weekend celebration filled with loving tributes and hosannas at the annual convention of the Colorado Credit Union League here May 2-4, friends, family and industry luminaries from across the land bid farewell to the 62-year-old Beach, who ranks as the League president with the second longest longevity. Only Gary Wolters of Alabama has been in a state League CEO job longer – 36 years -but he along with more than 20 other state League presidents as well as a who’s who of CUNA and CUNA Mutual leaderships joined by top regulators, state legislators and U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard (R.-Colo.), took part in the weekend program. Though he missed the Saturday banquet attended by a throng of 650 for a “roast and toast” of Beach, NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar was on hand for Thursday and Friday events to join in praising Beach’s “vision and leadership” throughout the years. Because of his long recognized “missionary zeal,” Beach, often described as an industry “icon,” has been honored time and time again by CUNA and other trade associations for his selfless work on behalf of CUs before state legislatures, the Congress, regulatory agencies and in world CU agencies. “Just stay close to the phone,” implored Carla Hedrick, the League chairman and president of Denver Community Federal Credit Union in describing how the League and its members might still need his counsel after retirement. And Beach, in an interview with Credit Union Times and in his remarks at the banquet, promised to “be available when I’m needed” for his successor James D. Holt, a 51-year old Wichita lawyer hired a year ago as executive vice president. Beach said also he is taking a consulting job June 1 with Credit Union Service Corp. of Atlanta where his son, Craig, is vice president of marketing and communications. “You can’t suddenly just quit,” said Beach in describing his new found “retirement,” adding that he does expect to spend time in Atlanta in the coming weeks to “help this very progressive organization move forward” in its service center network. During the weekend, the tributes came almost nonstop with speaker after speaker in breakfasts and workshops eager to praise “Carroll’s courage and tenacious spirit.” Beach received a plaque commemorating his chairmanship of Credit Union House in Washington which he guided in its opening last December, and he also received a flag which flew atop the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 11. In addition, Beach received a lifetime membership to a popular Denver golf club. Two separate videos with snippets of pre-recorded comments from industry leaders were shown at a business session and at the Saturday banquet. The master of ceremonies for the Saturday banquet, C. Alan Peppers, president of Denver Public Schools Credit Union, called Beach “my role model for leadership.” The opening invocation Friday morning from J.L. Roberts, treasurer of U.S. Consolidated Federal Credit Union in Denver and a minister, included thanks to God for “answering our plaintiff pleas” to bring the Colorado League a new leader back in 1973. “In the early 1970′s, the Colorado League was a rather small, dormant and insignificant financial institution in dire need of a purpose,” invoked Roberts. But “you sent us a young, dynamic and charismatic visionary leader from Kansas.” Beach, former lobbyist for the Kansas Credit Union League before joining the Colorado League, started out on a teaching career in Jennings, Kan., where he met his wife, Ruth. Beach got into the CU business after he and his wife started managing a small on-the-ropes Emporia, Kan.-teachers’ credit union from the kitchen of their home. Some of the most touching moments at the Saturday banquet held at the posh Broadmoor Hotel came from Ruth, Craig and his sister, Sheila. Known for his “interviews” or “interrogations” of friends, dates and classmates, Sheila described her father’s intense interest in her comings and goings as if she were in a business environment. “After one interview, one of my friends had to bluntly tell my father that `I don’t want to marry your daughter, I just want to go to the mall with her,” declared Sheila to the laughter of the banquet crowd which was also treated to skits from a Denver theater group troop spoofing Beach, his family and James Holt. Craig Beach, who poked fun at himself since “I am a son of a Beach,” also drew laughs from the League crowd when he said he found out from another convention speaker “that my sister got paid and I didn’t” when both worked as youngsters in the League print shop. The younger Beach also called his father a “mentor for me throughout my life.” He joked that his father gave him advice on “how you can still talk 20 minutes when you’re speechless.” Carroll’s wife, Ruth, told the League audience that she felt she was at “a family reunion” because of the adulation she received from so many of Carroll’s associates who came to Colorado Springs for the weekend. Holding back the tears, Ruth said, “I am truly blessed to have known so many loving and caring people” that make up the CU community. She also praised her husband who stood by “and prayed for me when I had health problems.” She said she felt particularly blessed that a man of Carroll’s character “was given to me by God” as her husband. She said the couple is now “embarking on our next great adventure,” and there is no telling where that might lead. “Thank you for being my friend, I love you,” Ruth intoned. Beach, ever modest about his own accomplishments, said the credit for his achievements lies with his “very capable, professional staff” and League Boards and volunteers he has worked with over the years. Of his accomplishments, Beach told Credit Union Times he is most proud “that I leave the Colorado League in good financial shape with $15 million in capital, a building complex with 61,000 square feet on nine acres of land all paid for.” “And we are really known as being one of the most progressive state leagues in the nation,” he concluded. Among the top industry leaders who spoke at weekend events were: CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica; CUNA Chairman Barry Jolette, president/CEO, San Mateo CU; CUNA Mutual President Michael Kitchen, and Bob Hoel, executive director of the Filene Institute. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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