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TOTOWA, N.J. – If it’s true that timing is everything, then Richard Block is sure his decision to step down as president/CEO of North Jersey FCU after 33 years of service on April 1, is the right decision at the right time. “I never had any plans early in my career to retire at age 66,” says Block. “People told me I’d know when I was ready, and now it’s time to pass the baton.” The NJFCU Board of Directors is currently in the process of naming Block’s successor, and he said he expects that to happen by Feb. 28. Block said his decision to retire from credit union service was prompted by several factors – his wife Joan retired in December as president/CEO of Automatic Data Processing Employees FCU, Roseland, N.J. after 18 years. Prior to working at ADPCFCU, she was president/CEO of Fairleigh Dickenson FCU, Madison, N.J. for 12 years. Having two credit union presidents in the family “sometimes made for interesting dinner table conversation,” Block recalls. “We often used each other as sounding boards. It worked for us, but like the game of bridge there are some husbands and wives who can’t play together. North Jersey FCU was larger than either of the two credit unions my wife was president of, but I always felt she could run my credit union because she had to more hands on at hers because of the credit unions’ sizes. But I couldn’t run hers because we’re larger and have more specialized responsibilities.” North Jersey FCU has $167 million in assets and close to 30,000 members. Its headquarters is housed in a 34,000-square foot facility in northern New Jersey. It has one branch in Newark and will be opening its second branch within a month in Patterson. Of course NJFCU looked radically different when Block began there in November 1971. At that time it had less than $1 million in assets and about 2,000 members. Chartered as Passaic County Teachers FCU in 1936 serving the school system of Passaic County in northern New Jersey, the credit union changed its name after it was approved in December 2003 for a a community charter. Its FOM now includes Passaic County and areas of Newark, Essex, Union and Bergen counties. Thirty-three years ago when Block started his career at NJFCU, the credit union was a plain vanilla CU – it only offered auto and personal loans and savings accounts. Now NJFCU is a full service CU that offers a full-line of loan products as well as all the various plastic cards. That’s another reason Block says he can retire now with satisfaction. “I feel like I’ve satisfied most of my goals. New Jersey FCU has become a full service credit union and made a difference in the lives of its members and employees,” the native New Jerseyan says. While Block has spent more than the last three decades working at NJFCU, it was not his first experience working with credit unions. Armed with several years experience working in private and public accounting, he cut his teeth on credit unions working from March 1966 to October 1971 as a federal examiner for the Bureau of Federal Credit Unions, now known as the NCUA. J. Dean Gannon was director then when the agency was moved to the then-newly created Department of Health, Education and Welfare. By the time Block left that position, the agency was called the NCUA, independently run and headed by General Herman Nickerson Jr. Block said at the time it wasn’t unusual for federal examiners to leave the agency to accept leadership positions at credit unions. In addition to working at the Bureau of Federal Credit Unions and at NJFCU, Block has also been active with CUES and NAFCU. He’s also served on the board of the New Jersey Credit Union League for 25 years, 20 of which he sat on the League’s executive committee. When he began working at NJFCU as manager (the position title was later changed to president/CEO), Block was the only full-time employee of a staff of three – the other two worked part-time. NJFCU currently has a staff of 70. Block is happy he’s seen NJFCU mature. “It’s been a good career for me,” he says. But now he’s ready to start a new career – that of a retiree. He and his wife Joan plan to split their time between their townhouse in Longbranch on the New Jersey shore and another they own in Bradenton, Fla. Block says he plans to enjoy himself which means seeing some Broadway shows, playing some bridge and tennis, catching up on his reading and spending more time with his wife and family which includes three children – a son who’s operations manager of NJFCU and two daughters – and one grandson (his second grandchild is due soon). “I plan to enjoy life to its fullest,” says Block. -

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