On Sunday July 21, 2008, the credit union movement lost a great leader and many of us lost a close friend with the passing of J. Raymond Curtin of Syracuse, N.Y. Ray was the CEO of Empire Federal Credit Union in Syracuse and, with John Wakefield of Power FCU, engineered the merger of those two credit unions into the present-day Empower FCU, which is currently a thriving and growing CU headed by Wakefield.

All of us who knew Ray were blessed to have a friend, because Ray wanted it that way. He was a caring professional who made the work day fun for his staff and every meeting fun for all those involved. His former and long-time assistant Kelly Sherman tearfully called him her best boss ever when I spoke to her on Monday and shared a great relationship with Ray. Despite a very productive and professional relationship, Ray would tease her constantly. Although I knew her for years, he would introduce her to me when I visited the office as Shelly, or Kelly, or whatever, and then say, "Hey it doesn't matter, she won't be here long!" All the while both of them would be laughing out loud.

At our New York CEO round table meetings, Ray was the control mechanism on just about anyone's ego's when they got emotional, saying "Tell us how you really feel" or when they got to be a bit of a know-it-all saying, "We don't really listen to you anyway." He always had a perfectly timed line or comment that would crack the tension and bring the group back to earth, but he never overdid that so as to compromise his professionalism. Rather, Ray was a great mix of fun and professional!

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to CUTimes.com, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical CUTimes.com information including comprehensive product and service provider listings via the Marketplace Directory, CU Careers, resources from industry leaders, webcasts, and breaking news, analysis and more with our informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and CU Times events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including Law.com and GlobeSt.com.

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.