Story last updated at 12/24/2008 - 10:51 am
ANCHORAGE - Alaska USA marked its 60th anniversary of service to members on Dec. 6. In celebration of its 60th anniversary, Alaska, USA has captured the history of the credit union through the eyes of several long-time members.
Alaska USA was founded in 1948 as the Alaskan Air Depot Federal Credit Union on Fort Richardson, Alaska to serve the financial needs of Department of Defense personnel. Those new to Alaska had a need for consumer credit, and local banking institutions were not meeting their needs.
The founding members of Alaska USA recognized that a credit union, as a not-for-profit cooperative, could satisfy those credit needs and provide other financial benefits. Alaska USA's origins are best told by its very first member, Edna "Smitty" Bruntzel, recorded during Alaska USA's 40th anniversary.
"After World War II, many of us who came to Alaska to work at the Alaska Air Depot on Fort Richardson didn't have enough money to get settled," Bruntzel said. "And the government didn't pay employees until they'd been on the job for two weeks. It wasn't easy for us, especially during the winters. So, 15 of us decided that if we formed a credit union, we could make loans to newcomers until they received their first paycheck. Then they'd be able to repay their loans. It would also give us old timers a fair return on our savings. All in all, I'd say it was an idea that worked out pretty well!"
Alaska USA is the largest financial institution headquartered in Alaska and the number one consumer lender in the state. It's the largest mortgage lender in Alaska and the third largest auto lender in the Pacific Northwest. The credit union also operates the largest independent insurance brokerage in Alaska and the largest trust company headquartered in Alaska.
In 2008, Alaska USA was voted for the second year in a row as Alaska's favorite financial institution and is recognized as one of the top 10 best places to work in Alaska. The credit union has nearly $4 billion in assets, $2.7 billion in loans, and services $3 billion in mortgage loans.
Alaska USA has 52 branches in 28 communities throughout Alaska and Washington and serves nearly 350,000 members in all 50 states and around the world.