Longtime bank director, employee honored

Traeger gets gold watch for 67 years of service

Carol Wagner Leader Correspondent

Photo by Carol Wagner Bob Traeger, center was recently presented with a gold watch for his dedication to State Bank-Gresham. Standing with Traeger are, from left, bank employees Karen Simpson and Andrea Quinney; Traeger’s wife, Bernadine; State Bank board chairman Sam Sousek Sr.; employee Kiley Pingel; bank president Sam Sousek II; board member David Waegli; and employees Theresa Voelz and Glenda Flauger.

Bob Traeger spent 67 years at State Bank’s Gresham branch beginning as an employee and then a director. He recently was given a gold watch for his dedication.

“From picking up Bob on the snowmobile during a massive snowstorm when I was in junior high so he could get to work, which he made on time, to my 20 years on the board with him, the one thing that never changed was his dedication and commitment for both community and customers,” said Sam Sousek II, president of State Bank with offices in Gresham and Shawano.

Traeger, 87, began work at the bank on June 6, 1950, when he was 20 years old. It was manned by just Traeger and the late Victor Sousek, father of Sam Sousek Sr., chairman of the board, and grandfather of Sam Sousek II.

“I replaced a girl who was getting married,” Traeger said.

He wanted to be a teacher and attended St. Norbert College for two years. He took the job thinking he would go back to school, but that never happened.

“I’ve enjoyed it very much,” Traeger said. “I met a lot of people. I enjoyed coming to work.”

He started as a teller who also did the shoveling and any other jobs that came up. Sam Sousek II was a teenager when he went a mile on a snowmobile to Traeger’s house during a huge snowstorm to bring him to work.

“That’s how dedicated he was,” said Sam Sousek Sr.

There were many interesting things that happened those many years. One of those was when Traeger recalled a woman who was overdrawn and brought in her check to cover what she owed. He still gets a chuckle about trying to explain to her that she needed to make a deposit.

Traeger retired from working at the bank on Jan. 31, 1993, as an assistant cashier. He has been a director since 1971, retiring Dec. 3, 2017. During his years there, the bank moved from downtown to its current location.

“He was an example that you could always count on,” said Sam Sousek Sr. “We appreciate the years of service he gave to the bank.”

Traeger has been healthy, missing only a couple days in 1989 during a bout with cancer which is now under control with medication.

David Waegli, a member of the bank board of directors, said, “He is loved and respected in the whole community.”

Traeger and his wife, Bernadine, have been married 56 years and have four children and 14 grandchildren. They live in the town of Herman where he had been the treasurer for 47 years.

He was also on the board of St. Francis Solanus Catholic Church and is a member of the Gresham Lions.