Tom Rogers holds a black and white photograph of the Commercial Savings Bank’s lobby from 1963 — his first year at the bank.
Tom Rogers holds a black and white photograph of the Commercial Savings Bank’s lobby from 1963

— his first year

at the bank.
April 17, 2013

Tom Rogers' life-changing day actually started very routinely.

A bookkeeper at former Hills Motor Co. Dodge and Chrysler dealership in Carroll, he was making one of his nearly daily visits to Commercial Savings Bank to drop off a deposit. But then bank officer Frank Liewer came up to him and said, "When you're finished there, will you come over to see me at my desk?"

Rogers recalls in a recent interview, "I thought, 'Oh God, what's wrong?'"

Nothing. Instead, Rogers says, "He asked me if I'd ever consider changing jobs. He gave me an application. I filled it out. Shortly after that I started working here."

Rogers' decision to accept the Commercial Savings Bank position has paid big dividends ever since he began work there on June 17, 1963.

Rogers acknowledges the job change was good for his income - the bank paid more than his position at Hills Motors - but also has been rewarding in so many other ways in his life.

Rogers started at the bank succeeding Jim Kerwin as a teller. Interestingly, Rogers' career intersects with Liewer and Kerwin, who both retired after distinguished longtime service with the bank, rising to vice president positions.

Over the years, Rogers progressed from teller to assistant cashier, to cashier and to loan officer. He also served on the board of directors for nearly 25 years - from August 1972 to June 1997.

"The whole thing's been enjoyable," says Rogers. "I never dreamed of being here 50 years when I started. It's the same way with age. I'm 78 now. You just go from year to year, and all of a sudden the years fly by. I was single when I started here. I got married, had a family, all that while I've been here 50 years."

Rogers will receive special recognition for his achievement at the Iowa Bankers Association convention in Des Moines in September. He's the second employee in Commercial Savings Bank's 96-year history to become a 50-year employee. Ellen Tranter worked at the bank from 1919 to 1969.

As he's reached the 50-year milestone, Rogers recalls that he had an aptitude for numbers from an early age.

"Math was easy for me," he says. "And I just kind of fell into the bookkeeping business."

The youngest of three sons and one daughter of Art and Gladys Rogers - his dad was a cook at the former Carroll Cafe that was located on the current city-hall site and his mom a homemaker - Tom graduated from Carroll High School in 1954.

About a week after Rogers graduated, the manager of the former Ocoma Foods (now the Farmland home) called his CHS bookkeeping and shorthand teacher, Phyllis Young, looking for prospects for a cost accountant.

"He (Ocoma manager) called and asked if I'd be interested in going to work there, and I did," Rogers says.

He worked at Ocoma a couple of years before becoming bookkeeper from 1956 to '63 at Hills Motors, located on the west side of Main between U.S. 30 and Seventh Street.

Rogers has handled key customer-service duties at the bank. As a teller he assisted customers with deposits and withdrawals and provided quick responses to questions. As a loan officers, Rogers helped applicants through the process, fitting customers' needs to their financial situation and types of loans available.

Commercial Savings Bank has been at the same location, southwest of corner of Seventh and Adams streets, throughout Rogers' career, but he's seen several major renovations to the building.

He's also seen dramatic changes in financial service, largely driven by technology.

"It's changed immensely from the time I started when we sorted checks and put them with statements, now to computers and not sorting checks," Rogers says. "With computers, the changes in workloads and how things are done are amazing.

"Now we have automatic deposits and debit cards. It used to be you could go into any grocery store or tavern in town and they'd have a stack of counter checks from all around the country. You'd just tell them what bank you wanted and use them. Now there aren't any such things as counter checks. In fact, checks are hardly used any more. It's mainly debit cards, automatic deposits, automatic withdrawals."

Amid all the changes, the constant for Rogers that has made his work so rewarding is the opportunity to meet and serve people. "It's the people I work with and the general public," he says. "And the work is always enjoyable."

Rogers' people skills stand out to bank president and CEO Paul Milligan.

"I have worked with Tom for over 35 years, and when I started our offices were next to each other, and on occasion he and I would manage the Dedham office together," Milligan says. "I quickly was introduced to his quick wit and great sense of humor. He is a wonderful story teller and has kept everyone laughing at the bank over his career."

For his part, Rogers says he's grateful for the opportunity to work with four generations of the Moehn family who have led Commercial Savings Bank throughout its history. Ray Moehn and his son Bob held top positions at the bank when Rogers came on board, and they were succeeded by Bob's son Pat, who's former president and still chairman of the board. Ryan Milligan, a grandson of Robert and son of Paul and Tam (Moehn) Milligan, is now a vice president.

"I like the job and how I've been treated," Rogers says. "They've treated me very well."

"They're just excellent bankers," he remarks, and adds that the bank is in good hands for many years to come with Paul and son Ryan now in charge.

"Commercial Savings Bank has been very fortunate to have Tom as an employee," Paul Milligan says.

Pat Moehn adds, "I've been associated with Tom at Commercial Savings Bank since the early '60s. Together we have seen a lot of changes, both at CSB and in the banking industry in general. He has been not only a wonderful employee but also a very good person and valued friend."

Rogers switched to part time at the bank on Feb. 28, 1997. He starts his day catching up with news at a coffee roundtable at MC's, and then from 7:30 to 11 he picks up and sorts mail, orders supplies, handles dormant accounts and takes care of other odds-and-ends jobs.

Rogers and wife, Sharon, a librarian in the adult section at Carroll Public Library for 23 years, have been married since Aug. 28, 1966, and have a son Philip, who's a maintenance employee at Quality Inn motel in Fort Dodge, and grandson, Justin, who's attending Iowa State University.

Tom's wife, Sharon, says his personality fits the customer-service emphasis of his career.

"He's outgoing, he likes to be with people, visit with them and tell jokes," she says.

Away from the bank, Tom formerly was a bowler - he carried a 180s average - and golfer, however, arthritis has sidelined him from those sports. Now, he spends much of his time with maintenance of his home - keeping the yard trimmed, washing windows, and shoveling the sidewalk and driveway.

"I have more time to do that than I used to," he says. "When I was younger, I don't know how I had time to get that done."

He plans to continue part time with the bank, not talking about retirement.

"It's been a great 50 years," he says.