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The 130+ year history of Century Bank has been dominated by the Ross family. Since the early 20th century, a Ross has been President of the Bank. Century bank has always been a family, community bank, not just from an ownership standpoint, but also as a matter of attitude and how we treat our customers.
The Shenandoah National Bank was organized on May 4, 1882 by a gentleman named George Bogart. Many of the early owners were nurserymen, such as D.S. Lake and E.S. Welch. It was originally located on the southeast corner of Elm and Sheridan in downtown Shenandoah. In 1905, Mr. Bogart moved the Bank to the site now occupied by the Jay’s Hallmark store and in 1907, Harry Ross was hired as a custodian. He became a bookkeeper in 1916.
The 1920s were tough times for banks in the rural Midwest. Shenandoah National weathered the storm of the panic of the 20s, but FDR’s “Bank Holiday” in 1933 closed all national banks in the country. In 1934, the Bank reopened under the name The City National Bank of Shenandoah, and under the leadership as Harry Ross as President.
Harry’s son, Bob Ross, joined the Board in 1951, having attended law school in the late 1930’s and served his country in the Army during World War II. The 1950s and 1960s were booming times in the United States, and the Bank grew steadily. Although he had a very successful insurance business, Bob Ross was a major force on the Board while his father was Chairman.
In 1973, just as the Bank was to move to its present location on the corner of Blossom Street and Thomas Ave., Bob Ross (having just retired from his insurance agency) agreed to become “temporary” President following the sudden death of his predecessor. This was a “fun” time for bankers, ad Bob Ross enjoyed all of the innovations he was installing and the tremendous growth the Bank was experiencing under his leadership.
In the late 1970s, an Omaha group tried to surreptitiously buy up the stock of the Bank and threatened to “take over”. Bob Ross had a big decision to make: should he sell out at a handsome price and retire; or should he fight. He and his family decided that City National Bank was going to be a locally-owned and family-owned bank, because that was what Shenandoah needed, and he ultimately won the battle for control.
George Perry, married to Bob and Marjorie’s middle daughter, Nancy, joined the Bank in 1981 following a successful law career, and became President in 1983, with Bob Ross becoming Chairman of the Board. The farm crisis of the 1980s hit all Midwestern banks hard, but again, City National weathered the storm and actually got stronger in the process. The 1990s saw steady earnings, an increase in capital, and major technological advances and improvements.
George started to look at retirement in 2002 and other members of the Ross Family needed to decide what role they wanted to play in the future of City National Bank. With the support of the Ross family members, Greg Ritchey, Rebecca Ross Ritchey, and a family friend, Mike Bauer, offered to purchase the Bank and to ensure the continuation of City National Bank as a community owned bank. The purchase was completed at the end of 2004.
In December of 2013, City National Bank was approved for conversion from a “national” charter to a “state” charter. Bank management and the Board concluded that our customers and the Bank would benefit from insight and oversight from the Iowa Department of Banking, which is focused on local community banks. With the conversion, City National Bank was renamed “Century Bank”. The Century Bank name instills the tradition, pride, history, and loyalty of a century’s ownership by the Ross Family, yet also shows our vision for the future and the next 100 years.
Century Bank is fully prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the new millennium. With a top notch staff of friendly and competent people, armed with competitively priced financial products to meet every need, Century Bank is truly a hometown, family bank. Leading the charge in economic development and improving the quality of our lives.
Current members of the Board of Directors are: Rebecca (Ross) Ritchey, Mike Bauer, Richard Jansen, George Max, Troy Nielsen, Heather Ritchey, and Greg Ritchey.