Former Chase manager to helm new credit union branch on Vashon

Long-time Chase bank branch manager Patte Wagner retired from Chase last Friday and will become the manager of the new Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union when it opens next week.

Joining her as service representatives will be Stephanie Bentsen, who just stepped down as the assistant manager at Chase, and Lori Nelson, who worked at Chase when it was Washington Mutual.

“I am really excited about this staff,” said Shannon Ellis-Brock, a vice president with the credit union. “They are all long-time Islanders, and being part of the community is important to them, and it is important to this branch.”

The news of appointments was made late last Friday, when Wagner was drawing her 30 years of banking with Washington Mutual and Chase to a close.

Calling it a golden opportunity, Wagner said she had already made the decision to retire from Chase when this possibility presented itself. She was approached more than once about the position, she said, and grew impressed with the small credit union, partially because it appeals to her affinity for nonprofits, where her career began.

Wagner noted she served at the Washington Mutual/Chase Vashon branch since 1992 and knows a lot about the Island and what people need financially. She is looking forward to putting her financial and Island know-how to work in a way that is good for the community and enjoyable for everyone involved.

“Your finances can and should be fun,” she said. “Money is a very intimate thing for people, and you should enjoy banking.”

The fun for her, she said, will be participating in work she believes will help Vashon take care of its own, tailoring services to what people need and, she added, “giving people a fair deal.”

In talking about her new role, Wagner noted she will have to get used to some new vocabulary and leave some banking terms behind. But, she noted, the credit union lexicon, with words such as “membership,” “cooperative” and “union,” convey a lot — words that she hopes will describe people’s experience with PSCCU.

While she is looking forward to serving a variety of Island needs, she said she is pleased that PSCCU will offer services to help people create more energy-efficient homes. Energy improvements will not only help the individuals in those homes, she said, but will also improve the housing stock on Vashon.

Her staff will be much smaller at PSCCU than she experienced at Chase. But that might change if what she is hearing on the street proves true, she noted.

“I anticipate this growing very rapidly,” she said.

Still, she added, she hopes the arrival of PSCCU will not hurt the Island banks, as they serve some needs that a credit union cannot, including providing services for large businesses and people who travel extensively overseas.

For now, though, Wagner is looking ahead to the opening and hopes that people will be patient if the first days are particularly hectic.

“I have a lot of respect for this credit union,” she said. “I look forward to helping them.”