From One Family To Another, 'Interim' Manager Retires

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Eight years later, Sally Kohlhoff has retired from her "interim" position as CEO of Family First Credit Union here.

Her plans include focusing more attention on her own two children and three grandchildren.

"We are one big family here, and I'm going to miss not seeing my credit union family everyday," she said. "But we will keep in touch through e-mail and long phone conversations."

H. Vance Vargo, former senior financial institution examiner for the Pennsylvania Department of Banking, was hired to fill Kohlhoff's position. Prior to his 13 years with the PDB, Vargo worked 10 years in the financial services industry in positions such as loan review, consumer and commercial lending, and retail banking.

Kohlhoff, who began working in credit unions in 1981, retired last March after serving eight years as CEO of the community-chartered, $41-million FFCU.

"I had announced my retirement plans to the board of directors in August of 2004, but I waited until March 23, 2005 for the completion of the remodeling of our current office and the building of our first branch office."

The new facility enables the CU to serve the previously underserved area of Freeland and outlying areas of Saginaw and Bay counties, she said.

Kohlhoff said she had a wonderful career that began when she was hired as a part-time collector for Wickes Credit Union.

"In 1984, I was hired as a teller for Saginaw Municipal Employees Credit Union-now Family First Credit Union," she said. "In 1997, our then manager, Sandra H. Bruce, passed away unexpectedly and I was asked by our board of directors to step up to the position of interim manager."

Kohlhoff said the position was "very trying" as she dove into learning about regulatory issues and procedures and, at the same time, kept up with the day-to-day responsibilities.

Other credit union leaders, including her former boss at Wickes, helped make the transition smoother.

Help From The Sponsor

"Ron (Selk, CEO of Wickes) sent his staff over to help me with completing a financial for my first board meeting," she recalled, adding that the Michigan Credit Union League was also very helpful through the years with everything from legal guidance to seminars and workshops.

Kohlhoff described her management method as "hands-on," which meant meeting with members one-on-one and keeping an open door for both members and staff.

"I will miss my staff and the members very much, but I am happy to be in the next phase of my life," she said. "I have two children and three beautiful grandchildren with whom I am devoting so much of my time and energy."

To all the people she met on her credit union path that have made her career so memorable and enjoyable, Kohlhoff offered two words: "Thank you."

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