ORLANDO, Fla. – Time flies when you’re having fun, and Ed Baranowski, president/CEO of Fairwinds CU can attest to that. To the 65-year old Baranowski, it seems like only yesterday when he came on board Fairwinds as the then $78-million CU’s president/CEO – it was actually July 1984 – and even less time since he announced his plans to retire June 30th- actually he formally announced his plans to the credit union’s board on Feb. 12. Regardless, at the end of this month, Baranowski will no longer be making the drive to the credit union from his home in Titusville. Larry Tobin, 41, formerly executive vice president of Fairwinds, was named in March to succeed Baranowski (CU Times, April 9). Baranowski said he had “been kicking around” the idea of retiring for awhile. His father retired when he was 60, and Baranowski intended to do the same. Anticipating his retirement, Baranowski and his wife Marlowe of 43 years moved to Melbourne, Fla. So much for plans! His father’s death a couple of years ago was a rude awakening for Baranowski on the priorities of life. “My father died at age 84 with $550,000 and some certificates of deposits. When he died before he could spend what he had saved, I told myself there has to more to life than just saving money,” Baranowski says. Together with Marlowe, Baranowski bought a condominium in Satellite Beach, Fla. not far from Cocoa Beach. The two have been spending weekends there. Baranowski recalled that “for the first time in my working life I looked forward to leaving the office on Fridays.” He adds that, “Before, I never left the office before 5 P.M. and felt I needed to work. Now I sneak away at 3 o’clock, and the words `credit union’ don’t enter in to my vocabulary over the weekend.” Baranowski says he looks at retirement as “an opportunity to do new and different things.” One thing he looks forward to doing is having more time to cultivate his interest in art. He’s done oil painting for several years – he was once offered a scholarship in art by the University of Wisconsin – and together with his daughter, artist Lee Jones, has worked on coordinating the annual RotaryFest street art festival in Orlando. But how does a 40-year veteran of the financial services industry close a book he’s been involved with for so long? One step at a time, he says. Baranowski, a native of Milwaukee, Wis. got his first taste of credit unions in 1960. At the time he was teaching business education at a high school in Wausau, Wis. He’d met his then-girlfriend Marlowe in 1959, and when the two decided to get married, Baranowski realized he couldn’t afford to save enough money on a teacher’s salary. He joined Wausau Education Association Credit Union “so I could borrow $500 for marriage expenses,” he recalls. Shortly after that, the $120,000-asset, 112-member WEACU asked Baranowski to be chairman of the credit union’s supervisory committee. Then in 1961, they asked him to be on their board of directors and serve as the treasurer/manager. With credit unions in his blood, Baranowski in 1965 volunteered for the Wisconsin Credit Union League and was assigned to be a League representative to 150 credit unions in the southwest part of the state. Baranowski took his first paying credit union job that same year as an administrative assistant/management trainee at University of Wisconsin CU in Madison. When the CU’s manager had to leave a year later for health reasons, Baranowski was named general manager/president of the then $3-million credit union. He remained at University of Wisconsin CU for 19 years during which time the CU’s assets grew to $77.5 million, it opened five branches, and qualified for the Wisconsin League’s “Total Service” designation. During Baranowski’s tenure at UWCU, the credit union became the first CU on the CUNA ICU Services program providing credit card services to members – it also served as the pilot for many CUNA products and services – and introduced share drafts, certificates, IRAs, money market accounts, and various savings programs allowed under state and federal laws. During that same 19-year period, Baranowski began his involvment in the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES). Among his accomplishments were authoring monthly articles on “Time Management” techniques for CUESs’ Credit Union Management magazine; assisting in organizing the Wisconsin Council of CUES (he served as its first secretary and from 1981-1984 as its president); and wrote a book entitled “Executive Excellence: A Time Management Guide for Financial Executives.” In addition, from 1968-1977, Baranowski was a CUNA director, and from 1968-1975 he was a director of State Central Corporate Credit Union in Milwaukee, Wis. In 1984, Baranowski and his family moved to the Sunshine State and he began his career at Navy Orlando FCU, as Fairwinds was called then. The credit union which served the Naval Training Center’s military personnel, civilian employees and their families, converted to a state charter in 1997 when the training center was closed by the Department of Defense. At the same time, the credit union expanded its field-of-membership. The $900-million CU now counts among its 110,000 members several select employee groups and five counties – Orange, Seminole, Volusia, Lake, and Osceola. Fairwinds also now has a full range of home banking services including a touch-tone, audio response, 24-hour telephone transaction program. Bill payer and wireless services can also be conducted via the CU’s Web site, In 1985, Baranowski was selected “Executive of the Year” by CUES. He was also recognized in 1996 by the Florida Credit Union League by being inducted in to its Hall of Fame and has served as chairman of PSCU Financial Services and Credit Union 24 and Shared Services. Despite leaving with so many accolades and receiving so much recognition from the credit union industry over the years, Baranowski’s biggest regret is “not doing nearly enough among our members to help them save money. When I look at all the people who file for bankruptcy, it’s horrendous. They’re overladden with debt.” Baranowski says he’s “anxiously waiting for the bankruptcy reform law to pass.” After spending so many years involved with credit unions, it would be easy to assume Baranowski will need time adjusting to retirement life. He firmly disagrees. When he leaves Fairwinds CU on June 30, Baranowski says, “I don’t want to have my hand at the helm of the credit union.” Instead, Baranowski wants to enjoy visiting with his five grandchildren, and son who lives in Madison, continue to perfect his hand at fine art, and take more time with Marlowe and his other passion – steering his Hunter 29.9-foot sailboat. -

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