by Shawn Marie Brummer, Communications & Social Media Specialist
Mary Bastle had been officially retired for six weeks when she received a call from Karen Andersen, Manager/CEO of Postal Family Federal Credit Union in Fargo. She was acquainted with Karen; the two had met at a Fargo credit union managers’ forum and both had attended several events hosted by the ND Credit Union League. The job was this: part-time in a quiet office at a small credit union with people she already knew and admired. She accepted the Member Service Representative position, and now it’s been 16 years. This is her story.
Mary grew up in the small town of Baker, MN, located about 20 miles southeast of Fargo with a population of about 50 residents. She rode the school bus every day to the nearby (and larger) town of Barnesville, where she graduated from high school along with her older sister, who happens to be her best friend. The girls’ father was a rural mail carrier in Barnesville, so it does seem fitting that Mary eventually ended up working for the Postal Family Federal Credit Union. Their mother was a “typical homemaker,” and Mary has fond memories of loving parents who taught them to be grateful, thoughtful, and kind to others. Even today, the girls remain best friends and live only ten minutes apart.
Following high school, Mary graduated from Moorhead Area Technical College before starting work at the offices of Blue Cross Blue Shield of ND in 1975. She began as a secretary to the vice president of claims administration, but there was also a small employee credit union where her boss was the volunteer treasurer. Mary started assisting him with credit union transactions along with a few assorted “other duties as assigned,” and she gained confidence and additional job skills. She also quickly became acquainted with many of the other employees, as they were all credit union members. When the VP retired in 1996, she became administrator of the BCBS Credit Union and divided her time between the credit union and working as an executive assistant to the vice president of the Medicare division.
Since she had started her career at BCBS of ND at just 20 years of age, she was able to retire at a very young age after 30 years of service. However, her retirement was short lived – because that’s when she received the call from Karen, who offered her the job at the downtown branch.
“I really hadn’t thought about getting another job at the time, but Karen convinced me it was only a few days a week, and she knew I was a credit union pioneer! After two years, I went full-time,” Mary explained. Now, 16 years have flown by – and she has experienced an entire second career.
“My coworkers have become a huge part of my life over the past years,” she shared. “They are the reason I continue to work past the normal retirement age. I joke with them often that they can’t get rid of me, but I am blessed that they want to keep me for a few more years, anyway!”
When the downtown branch in the post office building closed a few years ago, Mary moved to the main office on 12th Avenue South in Fargo. In her role as a Member Service Representative at a smaller credit union, her duties are varied. Any given day, she can be responsible for opening new accounts, cash and check transactions, debit and credit card issues, wire transfers, running credit reports, daily financials, mobile deposits and online services, in addition to whatever else may come up.
It’s doubtful that Mary would still be working if she didn’t love the people she works with, as well as the credit union principles. She says what she enjoys most about the industry is the entire “People Helping People” philosophy. “We are a small, closed membership credit union, and have many wonderful members that appreciate the personal attention and services we provide,” she stated.
In addition to her work at Postal Family, Mary is a past board member and past president of the Red River Chapter of Credit Unions. She also volunteers at the Community Presbyterian Church in West Fargo, where she currently acts as Sanctuary Committee Chairman, and previously served on several worship and fellowship committees.
As a member of the events committee at Postal Family, she also enjoys helping to plan their annual meeting (always held at the Holiday Inn in Fargo), the PeeWee Penguin picnic at the Red River Zoo, the Redhawks game event, Santa Day, International Credit Union Day, and various fundraisers.
In her personal life, Mary has two adult children: daughter Tina; and son Ryan. Tina and Bosco, along with their two-year-old son, Bode, and a bulldog named Dot, live in Plymouth, MN. Tina works for a law firm in downtown Minneapolis, and another grandson is expected in November. Ryan has a Doctorate in Neuroscience, and works as a medical science liaison for a large pharmaceutical company in Atlanta, GA.
In her free time, Mary enjoys golf in the summer months, and has been a member of the Edgewood Women’s Golf League for 24 years. Reading is her favorite pastime; she is a strong supporter of the Fargo Library and reads at least two to three books every week. She also enjoys solving cryptograms and crossword puzzles.
Finally, there’s one little superstition that has become a habit for most of her adult life. Each day, she faithfully reads her horoscope in the morning. I am imagining that some years ago, she may have read: “You are about to come into many years of good fortune…”
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