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40 years banking in Kennedy

 Silewski: ‘It’s just like my home away from home’

By Anna Jauhola
Forty years ago, Tom Silewski drove his 1977 Oldsmobile Delta 88 to Kennedy for a job interview. Cecil “Butch” Fossell was working there at the time and remembers him pulling up to the then Farmers State Bank in “that boat of a car.”
“When he got here, I was carpet sweeping. So I told him, ‘This is what we do every morning before we open up,’” Fossell said.
Silewski nailed his interview with Fossell for the position at the bank and has been there ever since.
On Wednesday, July 14, dozens of community members and customers from around the area stopped at the KodaBank office along Highway 75 in Kennedy to wish Silewski happy 40th anniversary. They enjoyed cake, refreshments, good conversation and a lot of laughs.
And he couldn’t imagine having ever taken another job. He has been with the bank through all its changes – from Farmers State Bank to Citizens State Bank to now as KodaBank, recently merged with Citizens State Bank.
“When I first came here, I only knew two people and they were both from Drayton,” Silewski said last week during the open house. “Now, I know everyone. And it’s just like my home away from home. I have been very involved in the community with the Kennedy Jaycees, the Kennedy Crew, the theater company. I love Kennedy. I like the small town feel.”
Silewski is a 1980 Drayton High School graduate. He completed a banking and finance program at the technical college in East Grand Forks in 1981 before taking the job in Kennedy.
Since Silewski started his position in 1981, he can recall many changes not only within the banking industry but also in the town of Kennedy.
“There was a grocery store, two gas stations, a hardware store, paint store, lumber yard and home supply store,” he said.
He said the technology at the bank when he started included a calculator, microfiche and a typewriter. He did not have a computer and he hand wrote all his “ins and outs.”
Silewski has no immediate plans of retiring.
“I think I’d go stir crazy,” he said. “I’m working for sure for five more years.”

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