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Archive for Friday, October 6, 2000

Douglas County Bank president to retire

October 6, 2000

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Bob Georgeson, who started his Lawrence financial career writing mortgages by hand, is retiring from an industry increasingly dominated by smart cards, computers and the Internet.

Georgeson said Thursday he would step down in January as president and chief executive officer of Douglas County Bank, the city's second largest banking company.

He will remain a member of its board of directors.

"I'll give somebody else a chance," Georgeson said. "Banking's changed a lot. There's a lot more regulations, and lot more technology. It's time for a change."

Georgeson, 69, has led the bank since March 1993, when he left Mercantile Bank as executive vice president and chief operating officer in Lawrence.

Under Georgeson's leadership, Douglas County Bank has increased its assets from $118 million to $160 million. Today the bank has five locations in Lawrence, one in Eudora and five ATMs.

Ross Beach, the bank's chairman and co-owner, said he was "hit cold" Thursday with Georgeson's decision, and hastily called a board meeting to accept it.

He knows finding a replacement won't be easy.

"He's been damned successful," said Beach, who has owned the bank with his wife, Marianna, since 1964. "Anytime you lose a fella of this caliber it's a loss. I hope other banks don't take advantage of it."

During his retirement, Beach plans to remain active in civic affairs. He presently is president of the Lawrence Schools Foundation; a trustee for the Douglas County Community Foundation; a director for KANU, Kansas University's public radio station; and a member of Douglas County Development Inc.

He previously served two terms on the board of directors for the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, including a year as chair in 1988. He has been in other leadership positions with the Lawrence Housing Authority, Cottonwood Inc. and Horizon 2020's steering committee.

Georgeson acknowledged that he'd come a long way since 1954, when he joined Commerce Acceptance Co. a day after graduating from Washburn University.

From an office above Round Corner Drug downtown, the collector and eventual branch manager wrote his first mortgages with a pen.

"Now they're all printed out by computer," Georgeson said, chuckling slightly. "There was a lot less work to it when we wrote it out longhand. The forms were simpler."

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