BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alabama Credit Union League CEO Gary B. Wolter, who holds the distinction as the most veteran league CEO, was honored by his league at a tribute during the league's annual meeting. The 66-year-old Wolter, who is celebrating 40 years as CEO, attributes his longevity in the trade group job to his family and the unwavering support of the industry. "The growth and changes within this dynamic credit union community has over the years allowed me opportunities to reinvent the job I was doing many times over and has rewarded me with a satisfying career," said Wolter who began his CU tenure as a league employee in 1962 and was made president/CEO in 1966. He took the presidential job at age 26. In an interview, Wolter said he has no plans to retire soon and that as long as his board wanted him he would stay on the job particularly "since there are so many things happening at both the national level and here in Alabama." "I suppose sometime in the next three to four years, I'd look at retiring," said the erstwhile CEO who gets credit for a string of industry-altering innovations over the years including the founding of U.S. Central back in the `70s, of which he was chairman for a time. He served on numerous CUNA committees and panels including the Renewal Process in the mid-90s. Looking at the current CU environment "there's so much happening with credit union taxation, legislative and regulatory changes, I want to be there," said Wolter. "I've been through the credit union battles and wars over the years," said Wolter expressing pride at accomplishments in Alabama including the development of EPL, a data processing firm of which the league is part owner selling what he called "exciting software products" to the industry. "I'm excited about these initiatives and want to see them through," he added. Among those honoring Wolter in congratulatory letters read to the league meeting held in Destin, Fla. were CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica and Carroll D. Beach, president and CEO of the Credit Union Service Corporation and long-time head of the Colorado Credit Union League. Mica wrote the industry's growth and success "is largely dependent on having strong and capable leaders such as you." Pointing to Wolter's work in the World Council of Credit Unions, the American Association of Credit Union Leagues and CUNA Mutual, Beach said the Alabaman has been "at the forefront in development of the credit union financial system, league service corporations, and international advancement." "We have all benefited because of your work," said Beach. Over the years Wolter has frequently said he is aware that his longevity as president/CEO is rare but with his health good he saw no need to retire early. "I have been fortunate enough to work with many colleagues whom I have come to respect and admire for their tireless dedication to a movement of not-for-profit, financial cooperatives dedicated to improving the quality of lives of credit union members," Wolter continued. "So many have been inspirations to me over the years, and I am truly grateful for their friendship, support, guidance and trust. I am truly standing on the shoulders of giants," he declared. But the accolades were being returned and heaped on Wolter by both league staffers and elected officials including the newly-elected vice chairman, Stephen Swofford, calling the league CEO an industry pillar "ranking as an original founding father in the national CU movement." Swofford, who is president/CEO of Alabama CU in Tuscaloosa, said Wolter should be given credit for many national innovations including political advocacy, fundraising and auditing advances. He cited the "CU Vote" project in Alabama as a prime example of grassroots political action. Apart from the national stage, "Gary has played a key role in the success of the Alabama League and its reputation as a leader among state leagues." Alabama "does not often get recognized and gets a lot of negative press," but Wolter has countered that image in a major way, said Swofford. -


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