Al Highum, correspondent banker at U.S. Bank in St. Paul, Minn., has been a fixture in the industry since I started covering this business in the mid-1980s. Al’s history, of course, goes back a lot further than mine. Al is very personable and I always enjoy visiting with him about the industry, particularly when he takes the time to reflect back on things decades ago.
Al recently announced he is retiring at the end of this year. I will certainly miss him at the usual industry events. Here is the memo his U.S. Bank colleague Steve Moore sent around regarding Al’s retirement announcement:
Al came into my office recently to announce that after 46.5 years with U.S. Bank, he has decided to retire as of the end of the year. Al started his U.S. Bank career right out of college. I think they had him rolling coins in the basement but was soon promoted to the Correspondent Banking Division.
You could say that First Bank/U.S. Bank blood flowed in Al’s veins from the very beginning as Al is the oldest of the three kids raised in Austin, Minn., by Ozzie and Margaret (Peterson) Highum. Ozzie started his banking career in 1938 in what was then Pipestone National Bank, which was owned by First Bank Shares Company (the holding company which eventually became known as First Bank Systems and today’s U.S. Bancorp). Al came along in 1942 and four years later the Highum family moved to Austin, Minn. Ozzie continued his banking career at First Bank Systems’ affiliate in Austin where he worked as a lender, trust officer and with “time payments” as the then-new product of installment loans was called.
Austin is only a short drive from the Highum family farm in Rushford, Minn., home of many Norwegian families still today. In fact a small fact – - the family farm, situated high on a hill become the source of the Highum name. Al’s ancestors become known as “Highum” as a result of their house on the hill — “High Home” (Ole and Lena sure knew how to make “tings easy back den, ya sure yabetcha”).
Al graduated from the University of Minnesota on June 13, 1964 and started at the bank two days later. He was asked to fill in for a teller who was on maternity leave. He remembers cashing a $75 check for two young men who had asked for the money to be split evenly between them. After hours of trying to figure out how to divide 75 by 2, Al handed over $37.50 to each. A few days later Al was interrogated by the FBI who were investigating the stolen $75 check. Unable to pick the two criminals from a police line-up, Al was then assigned to the Management Training program where he was introduced to the Correspondent Banking Division.
Before beginning there, he answered his call of duty with the National Guard and spent the next few months “guarding the gold” at Fort Knox. Yes, our very own Al, who handed over $75.00 (evenly divided, I might add) to two aspiring criminals a few months earlier was now in charge of directing traffic on Bullion Blvd at Fort Knox. Obviously, background checks were not as important then as they are now. Upon completing his duty at Fort Knox, he returned to First Bank St Paul’s Correspondent Banking Department where he learned his stiffest competitor was, in fact, First Bank Minneapolis (true story — I can’t make that up).
Needless to say, Al has been a tremendous part of the success story of U.S. Bank’s Correspondent efforts in the 9th Federal Reserve. He is well-loved by at least three generations of bankers in this area. He often reminds the current bank presidents of stories about their parents and grandparents. His long history of customer service, dedication and loyalty is appreciated by both his customers and his co-workers. It will be difficult to replace him not only because of his experience but also because of his dedication to this bank, to his job and to the industry. I trust we will all still be able to hear his signature laugh whenever we have an opportunity to play at any golf course in Minnesota. After all, he’s played most of them and has a story for each.
It is this long history of dedicated service that brought mixed emotions to Al as he told me of his plans to retire. I’m sure his two young grandsons, his lake cabin and the rest of his family will go along way to help ease the transition.
Al will be with us until the end of the year. Please join me in thanking Al for 46.5 years of service and wishing him the very best in retirement.