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With speech making, picture taking and a cookout, CUNA’s leadership all but wrapped up year-long anniversary celebrations last week marking the founding of credit unions with a gathering in Estes Park, Colo., to commemorate CUNA’s chartering 75 years ago.For many in the group of 150 it was an emotional moment as CUNA Board members and their families along with league CEOs and descendants of industry pioneers celebrated the founding events of yesteryear on a YMCA campground.“For me it was an unforgettable day, and one that allowed all of us to reflect on all that credit unions have accomplished,” said Dan Mica, president/CEO, adding, tongue in cheek, “Now, I think maybe I should stay on longer since I’ll have to miss this very special kind of event.”Mica was referring to his previously announced planned exit from the CUNA helm in January 2011.Kris Mecham, the chairman of CUNA, said hearing the tributes and powerful recollections made in speeches by the offspring of CU pioneers was uplifting and provided real guidance into his own role in leading CUNA.“It was simply awesome to appreciate the vision that our founders possessed in putting together this movement and so it made me question my own visionary skills and what I need to do in the future” in leading CUNA, said Mecham, who also is president/CEO of Deseret First FCU of Salt Lake City.One surprise during the Estes Park proceedings was the discovery of an unknown 1954 speech and notes written by the late CU pioneer Roy Bergengren. Portions of the speech were read by Kathy Peletier, the Berlin, Vt., granddaughter of Bergengren.Discussing usury, Bergengren had described a “false assumption that the average man was not entitled to normal money credit.” But on the contrary the CUNA solution was found in people working together “to pool their savings, however small, and thereby to create normal credit without usury.”Peltier found some notes of Bergengren’s in a closet of her home over the summer. The granddaughter said the credit union pioneer’s notes concluded with this prophetic comment, “May our children and our children’s children return to this spot from time to time over the years to renew their inspiration to carry on the war for economic opportunity.”

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