There was a time in history not too long ago when Bearl Dean can remember only one bank that sat along Highway 58 in northern Cass County.
Today, “Mr. Dean,” as his colleagues embrace him, can count as many as eight or nine banks just on a quick stroll through the area.
A lifelong Cass County resident, Dean grew up on a farm, and found his calling in that way of life.
Along with his wife, Maxine, who died in 2010 from cancer, found happiness together in agriculture, and in raising their six children. They were also blessed with 14 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
“It was always our first goal in life to be farmers,” he said.
But now, at the age of 90, Dean is retiring from the second hat he wore.
Community Bank of Raymore, the city’s oldest bank, will be honoring their founding director after 35 years of service during an open house 2-5 p.m. Monday, March 18.
Dean was among a group of individuals who helped form a committee during the summer of 1976 in an effort to obtain a full-service, home-owned community bank, as news began to spread that a walk-up banking facility was going to locate in Raymore.
A large group of supporters rallied together, and the committee was soon overwhelmed at the amount of support, Dean recalled, and soon began collecting shares.
A minimum of 10 shares, and no maximum, was offered. Their goal was to raise to $400,000 in capital.
Deposits for stock were received by the committee and the goal was soon reset to $500,000, while others doubted that bank charter could be obtained.
The only other Raymore bank had closed its doors in 1935 after U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt closed all banks until they gained Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation approval. Efforts by other interested banks had been shut down in the courts just three years prior.
“(My wife) Maxine and I had become friends with Bob and Dick Harmon through the sale of land for their bus company. I asked them if they were interested in becoming shareholders, and they were,” Dean said.
By December 1976, $600,000 was in escrow in a corresponding bank and a banking charter application was made for Community Bank of Raymore, with more more than 200 subscribers.
It wasn’t until July 1978 that the bank’s charter was approved, but the state banking board gave Raymore reviews, stating that the city’s population had grown 279 percent since 1970 along with other indications of financial health.
By February, 16, 1979, the FDIC fully approved the bank’s application without any significant conditions. The date marked historical significance throughout Cass County, as the last bank chartered in the county was the Pleasant Hill Bank 45 years to the same date in 1934.
Joining Dean on the bank’s board of directors was his brother, Earl Dean, Chairman Roy Johnston, President J. Weldon Jackson, Claude Barnes, James Bush, Vice President and Cashier Mark Tankesley, and Secretary Verna Cooper.
A few months later, on April 17, 1979, a temporary bank building was set at the bank’s present-day location, 801 West Foxwood Dr. The bank opened its doors the next month, on March 15, with $600,000 in shares.
“By the late 1980s, the Harmon brothers were the largest shareholders, owning approximately 70 percent of the stock,” Dean said.
In 1992, Bill McDaniel acquired the bank, which had grown to hold $25.8 million in deposits, and all the original shareholders were paid for their investments.
Raymore continues to be one of the fastest growing communities in the state, and the bank has followed suit. Today, the bank yields $178 million in deposits, and has added branches in Peculiar and Harrisonville, opened in 1998 and 2010, respectively.
Dean, who now takes up residence at Foxwood Springs in Raymore, is in awe of how the bank has grown.
“We were determined. I wish some of the $100 and $200 original shareholders could see how the bank has grown,” he said. “It’s really a community bank...for the people.”