The Herald of Everett, Washington
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Published: Saturday, May 1, 2010, 12:01 a.m.

Everett and Frontier Bank grew up together

EVERETT — He just couldn't let go of his original stock certificate from Frontier Bank.
Larry O'Donnell sold the rest of his shares about six months ago as the Everett bank's stock price fell.
His original 50 shares had sentimental value, though.
“I thought, ‘I want to keep that as a memento of what was a real success story,'” said O'Donnell, 72, of Everett.
That story ended on Friday, as state regulators closed Frontier Bank and it was sold to Union Bank of San Francisco. The Everett bank's collapse is a sad moment for those who recalled a local institution that, for a time, was a Northwest giant.
Bob Dickson helped found Frontier Bank in 1978, sketching out a plan on the back of a place mat at dinner at a Black Angus restaurant with future Everett Mayor Ed Hansen and dentist Roger Rice.
The three men envisioned a bank where managers would know customers by their first names.
Dickson, 76, of Everett, led the bank for 25 years as CEO, watching it grow into a multibillion-dollar institution with branches across Oregon and Washington.
Dickson needed a half-hour to collect his thoughts after he heard about the bank's impending seizure on Friday.
“It's a disappointment,” he said. “I feel badly for employees, investors who still might be around and the community.”
The bank's failure delivered more than an emotional blow to Dickson, however.
“I have been a very, very substantial investor,” he said. “Our family has taken a big financial loss. We've ridden the stock down.”
The bank was a victim of the recession. It couldn't escape from bad loans tied to the real estate bubble that has ruined community banks across the country.
The loss of Frontier Bank is also a loss to Snohomish County, former Everett City Councilman Ed Morrow said.
Morrow, 75, of Everett wasn't an investor in the bank. Still, he remembered when it opened and held an account with the bank from time to time.
To him, Frontier was more than a collection of locked safes and stacked bills. It was a group of local people who built something out of nothing.
The bank has often backed local causes, sponsoring events and supporting fundraisers in the past 32 years, Morrow said.
“They've been real givers,” he said of Frontier. “That's why I feel so badly. Because they tried so hard.”
Now that Frontier has been taken over by a California bank, that local philanthropy may end, Morrow said.
“It just saddens me,” he said.
Andy Rathbun: 425-339-3455; arathbun@heraldnet.com.

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