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SUN CITY WEST, Ariz. – Portions of Joe Schoggen’s credit union career easily mirror that famous line uttered by Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Part 3. “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in,” bemused Al Pacino playing Corleone. At least twice in his 25-year career, Schoggen, 81, thought he was on his way out the door, eagerly looking forward to a much slower pace in his golden retirement years. Other industry heavyweights knew better. He began his credit union career at Navy Federal Credit Union in 1975 becoming president in 1980 and spending the last four months of his tenure there convincing the board chairman that he was “really leaving” to retire to his newly-built home in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Shortly after leaving Navy, Schoggen ran into then CUNA President Ralph Swoboda at a Defense Credit Union Council meeting in Scotland who urged him to come work at CUNA to in part aid the association’s former Card Services Group. “Quite frankly, I thought it was a ridiculous idea,” Schoggen recalled. “I was ready to enjoy life. I talked it over with my wife who didn’t think it was such a ridiculous idea.” Schoggen would go on to become a vice president at Card Services Group, then executive vice president/COO of CUNA & Affiliates before retiring in 1990. This time, he chose to stay involved, writing CUNA’s Credit Union Uniqueness Committee report, chairing its System Risk Oversight Commission and serving as a member of the National Credit Union System Renewal Committee. Since 1993, he hasn’t looked back. Today, the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma native has shifted his priorities towards the long-term development of the Arizona town he now calls home. Sun City West sprang on the map in 1978 as a master planned community located 14 miles northwest of Phoenix in Maricopa County. The retirement enclave has 30,000 residents spread out on 7,000 acres of apartments, duplexes and single family homes. Here, Schoggen has immersed himself in the future expansion of Sun City West through his work on several boards. Since 1998, Schoggen has served as treasurer of the community’s Del E. Webb Memorial Hospital Board of Directors. Each month, he meets with the hospital’s managing officers to review results of the month’s operations before giving a full report at the hospital’s board meetings. “It’s gotten quite busy here with all the discussions for expansion,” Schoggen said. He compares his role as chairman of the Sun Health Planning Committee to his credit union career. The committee, made up of volunteers who work for a “not for profit” network rely on contributions from residents, takes a hard look at long-term developmental planning here. Sun Health is a 2,800-person non-profit health care system with two hospitals and several clinics serving residents of Phoenix’s west valley area. One concern on the front burner is building additional facilities to accommodate the “tremendous growth” Sun City West finds itself grappling with. Schoggen worked closely with officials on the decision to add a women’s health center, a heart operation facility and a possible new wing to Del E. Webb Memorial Hospital. Schoggen also does quadruple duty as members of the Sun Health Corporate Board of Directors and of the Sun Health Leadership Committee, which oversees the hospital and clinic operations and reports to the operating board and conducts training sessions for volunteers, respectively. Since retiring, he has served as presidents of several organizations here including the Governing Board of the Recreation Centers of Sun City West, Inc., the Symphony of the West Valley, the Sun City West Rotary Club (of which he writes the online weekly bulletin) and chair of the Sun Health Government Affairs Committee. The latter saw Schoggen tracking state and federal legislation that affected hospital operations. He could easily cut back on his service, enjoy more leisure time with his wife of 59 years, Charlene, his son and daughter and two grandchildren. So, what motivates him to be such a community advocate? “Throughout my life, I’ve always had an objective to be helpful to others,” Schoggen explained. “The Rotary Club’s motto is service above self. That’s been my motto for my life. Even in the credit union world, I tried to provide a viable alternative for people who need financial services but were shut out from the for-profit sectors.” His service to others started by serving his country. He joined the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1942 during World War II, left the Navy when the war ended and became a professor at the University of Kansas where he taught economics, money and banking, corporate finance and business administrative practices. Schoggen was called to active duty during the Korean conflict where he transferred to the regular Navy and completed his career as a two-star Admiral in the Supply Corps. Soon after, a retired Navy captain asked Schoggen to come tour Navy FCU’s operations with the hopes of wooing him to head up data processing operations. “He was persistent,” Schoggen recalled. “I didn’t know anything about credit unions but had been a member of Navy FCU for years.” Schoggen took the job as assistant general manager, then oversaw planning and finally became general manager, a title now known as president. Navy FCU would soon outgrow its former facility and move to its current Vienna, Va.-headquarters. “I bought a house in Vienna and jogged the four miles to work and back home again,” Schoggen said. His commitment to physical fitness was evident then – Navy FCU has a fitness center named in his honor – and now. In addition to morning exercises, Schoggen is a diehard treadmill user. When he wrote CUNA’s Credit Union Uniqueness Committee report, Schoggen said it was a wake-up call to the industry on what the spirit of the movement was founded on. “The nation doesn’t need another 12,000 banks,” Schoggen said. “My objective was to convince credit unions to remain credit unions. People still want to get their financial services in a cooperative environment.” When he chaired CUNA’s System Risk Oversight Commission in the early 1990s, Schoggen recalls the growing concern over credit unions’ safety and soundness. Corporate credit unions were starting to invest in mortgage-backed securities and the industry needed nudging on the tenet that “credit unions were here to provide service to members without making a profit.” By far, his work with the National Credit Union System Renewal Committee, which changed the structure of CUNA and CUNA Mutual Group, had far reaching impact. “Representatives from small, medium and large credit unions and trade associations came up with recommendations that changed CUNA’s inner workings,” Schoggen said. “Not all of them went through.” Schoggen freely admits he’s been out of the credit union loop for years and that’s okay. He still worries that “credit unions will lose focus of their purpose.” “Edward Filene said the secret of success is constancy of purpose,” he said. “You must be clear on what the focus is because it’s easy to lose sight of it. That’s a bad sign for any organization.” Friends wanting to get in touch with Joe Schoggen can reach him at (623) 584-9279 in Sun City West, Ariz., or email him at joes@amug.org. -

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