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ACKWORTH, Ga. – Bill Broxterman doesn’t even want to think about how different his life would have been if he had made a career out of serving in the Navy as he originally intended. It’s something he can’t even imagine. Broxterman and his wife Diane are busy these days settling into their new home in Ackworth, Ga. they recently moved to from Rancho Mirage, Calif. He once flew planes for 30 years mostly on business but discontinued flying about 12 years ago due to depth perception problems. These days Broxterman’s attention is focused on the ground specifically on his family which includes their children and grandchildren who he lives close to now that he’s moved. That was Broxterman’s top priority when he retired in 1997 at age 67 after nearly a five-decade credit union career. But that’s radically different from his pre-retirement life which as anyone who knew or worked with Broxterman knows, was taken up with traveling and criss-crossing the country working with several credit union leagues and CUNA. The Sececa, Kan.-native had originally set his career sites on going into submarine duty after he served four years in the Navy 1948-1952, but the Navy’s loss was the credit union industry’s gain. Instead Broxterman kicked off his credit career in 1954 at the Tennessee Credit Union League responsible for organizing new credit unions and helping CUs close their books at the end of the month. Broxterman says his goal was to organize 25 new credit unions a year “and we always met that goal plus some,” he says. Broxterman recalls what was involved with setting up credit unions in Tennessee in those days: he went to the industrial commission and got a list of all the companies in the state. “I picked all the companies that had at least 100 employees and I’d start calling the plants. The more plants you called, the more credit unions you had the chance to set up. You first had to find seven people to sign the credit union charter, send to Washington, D.C. or the state to get the charter, then when it came back you had to have an organization meeting,” he explains, adding that the first position that was filled was always the treasurer “because you needed someone to keep the books.” Broxterman also recalls when it came to talking credit unions to potential members, “the word union was more of a problem than the word credit. I usually had some explaining to do, particularly in the South when I was dealing with the textile industry.” On more than one occasion, Broxterman said companies called the police out on him because they thought he was trying to start a union. Another time his car was turned over when he tried to get to a credit union that was located inside a plant where the workers were on strike. “The plant employees were outside the plant picketing and they thought I was a union buster,” he says. When he thinks back on times like these Broxterman says “it all seems surreal to me.” In late 1957, Broxterman left Tennessee for Madison, Wis. to work as an organizational specialist for CUNA. In those says, he explains, the trade association was called CUNA International. Broxterman covered the eastern part of the country and an associate Percy Adams covered the west. “The Mississippi was our loose dividing point,” says Broxterman. “Our job was to go to the leagues and teach them how to organize credit unions.” At the time, Broxterman says Delaware, Wyoming and Nevada were the only states that didn’t have leagues even though there already were CUs there. Two years later, Broxterman packed up his bags and moved to Texas to work at the Texas Credit Union League as director of training and education. He refers to this period in his credit union career as “the end of my apprenticeship” because except for a two-year stint with CUNA from 1972-1974, Broxterman’s league positions starting from when he left the Texas League in 1962 were always in presidents’ spots. Broxterman’s first job as league president/CEO (it was called managing director in 1962) was in South Carolina. “When I went there they didn’t have enough money to pay me. So I had to organize enough credit unions and collect enough dues so I could get paid my first year’s salary,” says Broxterman. By the time he was heading the South Carolina Credit Union League, Broxterman also became president of what was then known as the Association of Credit Union League Executives (ACULE), now known as the American Association of Credit Union Leagues (AACUL). Herb Wegner was president of CUNA, which was located on Rhode Island Ave. in Washington, D.C. and he convinced Broxterman to come to work at CUNA as Executive Vice President managing the trade association’s D.C. office. While he worked there CUNA started what it then called the Washington Meeting of Credit Unions, which is now known as the annual GAC. Like now, the conference was held at the Washington Hilton. Attendance the first year, says Broxterman was about 400-500 people, which he referred to as “a big turnout.” “Even then credit unions had a lot of visibility on Capitol Hill,” says Broxterman. For example, he says, then Chairman of the House Banking & Currency Committee Rep. Wright Patman spoke at every conference. Broxterman also started the Credit Union Legislative Action Committee (CULAC) while he worked at CUNA. Arizona State Employees CU’s Bill Heier became the first chairman. By 1974 it was time for Broxterman to pack his belongings again and move to the west coast to work as president/CEO of the California Credit Union League. During his 15 years at the League, several businesses that make up the modern credit union movement were formed such as WesCorp and the CO-Op Network. “When I first came to the California League there was only about a 50% affiliation. Most of the largest credit unions in the state weren’t members of the league. My biggest job was to be a peace maker, increase league affiliation and create a viable service program,” Broxterman says. By the time he left the CCUL affiliation rate was 90%. Oh yes, he also found time to serve on the CUNA Mutual Board for 18 years from 1982-2000 including serving as chairman for two years. By 1989, Broxterman started to get antsy and feeling like he’d done just about everything in the credit union movement. He says he was encouraged to apply for the CUNA president’s spot to succeed Jim Williams but he never put his application in (Ralph Swoboda wound up being named to the spot.) “I decided to try my hand at something else. So I went to Hughes Aircraft Employees FCU as their president/CEO to see if I could put into place what I’d preached as president/CEO of the California League,” says Broxterman. He stayed at Hughes for eight years until he retired. But even that didn’t spell the end of Broxterman’s CU career. In 2001, when the president of USA FCU was tragically killed in a car accident, Broxterman was contacted by the chairman to run things until they hired a new president/CEO. He stayed there five months until the CU hired Mary Cunningham. In 2003, Broxterman was asked to “hold the fort down” at 1st United Services CU, Pleasonton, Calif. when their president/CEO retired. He stayed there four months. Now that he’s back on the east coast, Broxterman swears he’s officially retired. However he pointedly says, “I haven’t totally closed the door on credit unions. It was always my intention to keep the door slightly ajar, but just not make credit unions my primary occupation.” Broxterman will soon turn 75, He sometimes wonders what he could have done if he’d applied for and gotten the job as president of CUNA, but he prefers to think about what he’ll accomplish over the next 25 years. “I’m very pleased with the contributions to the credit union movement I had something to do with,” he says. “I have no regrets.” – [email protected] Friends of Broxterman who would like to contact him can reach him by email at [email protected]

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