Eugene Szymczak, president and chief executive officer of Racine-based Educators Credit Union, died unexpectedly in his sleep on Dec. 4, the credit union announced yesterday.
“It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our friend and colleague, Gene Szymczak,” said Mary Lueneburg, chair of the board. “He was, first and foremost, a generous, selfless human being, as well as an inspiring leader. Gene considered everyone in the Educators organization an extension of his family. He made it a point to know the first name of those who work here, and took great pleasure in interacting with our members. He will be deeply missed. His drive to service, excellence and doing what is right will be hallmarks that we will carry forward with us. On behalf of our board of directors, management team and employees, we mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathies to his family.”
Educators’ board of directors met Sunday afternoon to discuss the succession plan and continuity of service and operations. It also named chief operations officer Linda Hoover interim CEO.
James Henderson, chief administration officer, said the internal succession plan was to name the COO the interim CEO in this situation. He expects a permanent CEO will be named in the next six months.
“At this point in time, I think (the board is) going to start internally and take it from there,” Henderson said.
The management team and the board are continuing to move forward on strategic projects, he said.
“We’re very well capitalized and our board and senior management team came in yesterday and made sure we have all of our ducks in a row and our strategic direction is the same as it has always been,” Henderson said.
Customers can expect things to remain the same.
“We’re giving the staff some time this week to grieve and be able to move forward, but in the immediate future, we want to continue to be there for all of our members as they need us,” he said.
Educators Credit Union has 430 employees at 19 branches in southeastern Wisconsin. It has 142,000 members and $1.6 billion in assets.