By Dee Longfellow

For The Elmhurst Independent

 

A dedication to a dedicated man… As his wife Barbara and family members look on, Bill Gooch (left) unveils a plaque with his likeness that will be placed in the foyer of Community Bank of Elmhurst in his honor. Pictured right is George F. Hammersmith Jr., whose father co-founded the bank with Gooch. Hammersmith was elected Chairman of the Board at the most recent meeting of the bank’s Board of Directors.

His tall slender stature and winning smile makes him a larger-than-life part of the Elmhurst community, being a leader not only in local banking but also throughout the community, taking part in organizations like the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Elmhurst Hospital, Elmhurst College and others. He has always greatly supported new local businesses, including the Elmhurst Independent.

Community Bank of Elmhurst Chairman of the Board William C. Gooch, Jr. has announced his retirement from banking after more than 60 years.

 

Pillar of the community…

It’s hard to think of Bill Gooch without thinking of Elmhurst. He has been such a large part of the community and its growth for the years he has been in banking – and that’s not just Community Bank of Elmhurst, it goes back to the days of York State Bank. He’s survived the ups and downs of the economy over the years and has still maintained the essence of doing the best thing for the community and taking the high road in everything he does. One might say he insisted his staff use “good old-fashioned” customer service but the fact is, in Gooch’s world, it was never old-fashioned to have good face-to-face, first-name-basis relationships with customers and business associates.

“Community banking is so people-oriented,” Gooch said. “The bottom line is important, but it’s the people who really matter – both our employees and our customers.

“The way I see it, big banks have two challenges – to get people in the bank and then to keep them as customers. Community banks have only one challenge – getting people in the bank because once they’re customers, they stay with us.”

Among his accomplishments, he was member of the Board of Governors of Elmhurst Memorial Hospital from 1972 to 2014.

In his work with the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce, Gooch served as President (now Chairman of the Board) in 1969. The Chamber named Gooch Ambassador of the Year in 2008; he was awarded the Honorary Title of “Duke of Elmhurst;” and in 2014, he was presented with the Good Works Award. In 2011, Gooch was inducted into the Elmhurst Civic Hall of Fame.

At Elmhurst College, he is still active as he has been for many years as a “Bluejay Backer.” In 1999, the organization gave him the Community Service Recognition award. Gooch also received the Legion of Honor Award by the Elmhurst Kiwanis Club.

The Elmhurst Children’s Assistance Foundation (ECAF) awarded Gooch the “Friend of the Children” award in 2002. Also in 2002, he was given the Excellence in the Community Service Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

In 2018, the Community Bankers Association of Illinois (CBAI) presented him with a plaque to commemorate his 60 years in community banking.

 

More recognition…

Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley acknowledged Gooch’s 60 years by issuing a Mayoral proclamation from the City in his name.

The State of Illinois House of Representatives 100th General Assembly presented Gooch with a resolution symbolizing contributions to the community banking profession and the State’s respect and esteem.

 

A Tale of Two Clocks

There are two clocks that sit in Bill Gooch’s office at Community Bank of Elmhurst, which he will likely soon clear out, pack up and take home. One clock is inscribed “October 16, 1989” as a nod to the 25 years that Gooch spent at York State Bank in Elmhurst. The smaller clock reads: “May 24, 1993-May 24, 2018” to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the chartering of Community Bank of Elmhurst.

He likes to recall starting his banking career in 1958 at West Chicago State Bank, a $6 million community bank that he says set the stage for his 60-plus year career in the industry.

“I hadn’t worked there very long when the [bank president] told me he wanted to give me a promotion to Cashier,” Gooch said. “I was so flattered until I realized it was his way of not having to pay me overtime!”

Overall, it is a bittersweet farewell for Bill Gooch. He’s had such an outstanding career and been blessed in life with his wife Barbara and their lovely family as well. He will be missed at the bank, but he’ll likely still be around.

After all, they say, “bankers never die, they just lose interest.” Here’s wishing Bill Gooch a wonderful, long, restful and yes, interesting retirement. On behalf of the community, thank you for all you have done for Elmhurst.

 

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