Kansas Banker Receives Top Ag Banking Award
The American Bankers Association (ABA) announced the recipients of its annual Bruning and Blanchfield Awards, the association’s premier awards for significant contributions to agricultural banking. ABA honored Leonard Wolfe, President and CEO of United Bank and Trust in Marysville, with the Bruning Award at the ABA Agricultural Bankers Conference, November 5-8 in Oklahoma City.
This award recognizes the lifetime achievement of agricultural bankers for their leadership and outstanding dedication to providing credit and financial guidance to farmers, ranchers and businesses in rural America. Named after its first recipient, Nebraska banker Frank Bruning, the Bruning Award is now in its 26th year.
“I cannot express how proud and honored I am to have received such a prestigious award,” Wolfe said. “It’s humbling to me that I was even considered for an award like this and to be a recipient, it’s such a great honor.”
Wolfe, a native of Kansas who has more than 40 years of experience in banking, began his career as an agricultural lender and insurance agent. He later accepted a position as president of the Home State Bank, where he worked for his mentor Virgil Lair. Wolfe later managed three additional banks under Lair for nearly a decade.
One of Wolfe’s key accomplishments during his career was pushing for the creation of a Kansas law that gives community banks the same tax-exempt status on certain earned interest as farm credit institutions. The Kansas bill, similar to the ABA-supported ACRE Act introduced in the House and Senate earlier this year, also includes a tax exemption for rural housing loans in communities with populations of 2,500 or less, allowing farm real estate borrowers and rural homeowners access to lower interest rates.
“My biggest motivation is to help our communities and our customers,” said Wolfe. “There are many threats to communities in rural America and it sometimes feels like all the cards are stacked against us, but as a community banker we can help change that so our customers and people within our communities compete with the rest of the world.”
While chair of ABA’s Agricultural Credit Task Force, Wolfe, one of the largest agricultural real estate lenders in Kansas, testified on the state of agricultural credit before the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture.
“Leonard has been an incredible champion for promoting the competitiveness of community banks and ag banks,” said Doug Wareham, President and CEO of Kansas Bankers Association. Wolfe has also served as chairman of the Kansas Bankers Association and the Kansas Banking Commission.
In addition to his roles representing his fellow agricultural bankers, Wolfe is a demonstrated leader. Hired by Gold Banc after his work with Lair, he helped facilitate a merger between Peoples National Bank of Clay Center and Tri-County Bank. He was then President and Regional Manager of the Peoples National Bank with the responsibility of overseeing 12 branches spread across the state of Kansas. When Gold Banc decided to sell some of its locations in 2003, Wolfe raised money to purchase and capitalize the banks. This led him to becoming President, CEO and Chairman of the Board at United Bank and Trust, a position he still holds nearly 20 years later.
Today, Wolfe lives on a farm North of Frankfort, Kansas, with his wife of 45 years. They have two daughters, a son and nine grandchildren.
Debbe Buseman Receives 50 Year Club Award
Congratulations to Debbe Buseman, Cashier and Vice President at The Riley State Bank of Riley in Riley, Kansas on her 50 years in banking! Debbe started her banking career on Aug. 6, 1973, after having been approached at the time by Harold Holmes, president at the time, to see if she would be interested in working at the bank when she was only a senior in high school. When Debbe had started, the bank had 10-key adding machines, electric typewriters and accounts identified by names, not account numbers. She had been accustomed to counting money from her grocery store days and most of her customers she’s known all her life. She remembered when the bank had talked about electronic banking in a conference and that everything would be automatic by 2000. Riley State Bank got their first in-house computer in 1982. When Shirley Duensing retired in 1986, Jeff Holmes appointed Debbe as cashier of the bank. Since then, she has added Vice President to her title and also heads up the Human Resources department for the bank. While learning to work with computers and keeping up with compliance and changing regulations in the banking industry was always a challenge, Debbe said the hardest thing to adjust to with all the new technology, is the lack of actual contact with customers. Looking ahead, Debbe said she has no immediate plans to retire.
Clinton Moore Joins KBA Insurance
KBA Insurance is excited to introduce Clinton Moore as the newest member of the team. Clinton, originally from Ottawa, Kansas, brings a grounded background, having spent much of his upbringing on his family’s farm in Osage County. Graduating with a business degree from Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, he was a member of the university’s golf team.
After college, Clinton spent four years in Arizona working as a golf professional at reputable courses before his recent role with New York Life. Now, he joins KBA Insurance, bringing with him a wealth of experience in business and event management, enriching the team.
Please join us in welcoming Clinton to the KBA Insurance family. We’re thrilled to have him on board, and we look forward to the positive impact he will undoubtedly make. Welcome, Clinton!
KBA Supports KARL Class Visit to Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Members of the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership (KARL) Class XVI visited and toured the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City as part of their two-year leadership and educational training experience. This session was supported by KBA’s Kansas Ag Bankers (KAB) Division with KAB Division Board representatives; Brett Wicker, Central National Bank at Paola; Stephen Hendrickson, Citizens State Bank of Marysville and KBA staffers Doug Wareham and J.W. Wells also attended the session. The KARL Class heard from newly minted Kansas City Fed President Jeff Schmid and participated in sessions highlighting the history and structure of the Federal Reserve System, an economic outlook session for the agricultural sector and a closing session on the important role community banks play in the financial services sector. KBA’s support for the KARL program now spans 23 years!