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First Federal Bank of California in Santa Monica has put Walter Lowry in charge of sales and day-to-day operations at its 24 retail branches.

Mr. Lowry managed the Encino, Calif., branch of Washington Mutual Inc.'s Home Savings of America. He was a vice president, as he is at First Federal.

Earlier in his 20-year banking career he was a vice president and business development officer for First American Bank in Rosemead, Calif. Still earlier he managed First Interstate Bank's Anaheim Hills branch; he left in 1996 when Wells Fargo & Co. bought the bank.

At First Federal he reports to chief operating officer Jim Giraldin. The thrift is owned by $3.7 billion-asset Firstfed Financial Corp. of Santa Monica.

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