Willard Ogren, who has banks in Northwestern and West Central Wisconsin, has been honored for his 60 years in the banking industry. Ogren, president of Security State Bank, received the award from the Wisconsin Bankers Executive Council during its recent convention in Milwaukee.
Ogren's banking career began after a diagnosis of tuberculosis as a young man derailed his hope of a career in basketball.
After he recovered, the 6-foot-6 former athlete went to work as a teller for Security State Bank in Port Wing, earning 65 cents an hour.
According to his son, Greg, Ogren put his all into banking, just as he had done with basketball. In time, Ogren and his wife, Jeri, bought the bank on his wages and her salary as a teacher.
Over the years, the couple established a branch bank in Brule,
adding to the bank's locations in Iron River and Port Wing. They formed
Security Bank Shares Holding Company. They bought the Security Bank of New Auburn and Sand Creek in West Central Wisconsin, then the Farmers State Bank in Ridgeland and Dallas.
They merged Ridgeland and Dallas with New Auburn and Sand Creek into one charter and sold the Ridgeland charter.
Today, they have two bank charters with a total of seven locations.
"To this day, Willard continues to put in long hours, and when he is not in the office he is calling and making sure the rest of us are putting long hours in," said his son, who serves as Security State Bank's chief financial officer.
During his career, Ogren also served as president of the Wisconsin Bankers Association in 1999-2000 and served on three American Bankers Association committees for nearly 10 years.