By Sam Jack
Steve Dannels, a lifelong Haysville resident and a local banker since 1983, recently retired.
Dannels spent the last 13 years at Community Bank, retiring as vice president, and manager of the Haysville location he helped open in 2006. Before his time at Community Bank, he opened and worked at the now-closed First National Bank.
His work in the field of commercial banking and lending gave him a good vantage point to observe how Haysville has changed and grown over the years.
“When the aircraft industry had its downturn, of course the community suffered for a while, but the housing has developed in leaps and bounds, in all directions from Haysville,” Dannels said. “Our commercial activity really increased over the years.”
After college, Dannels spent 11 years as a manager at Nelson Tree Service, which performed contract tree maintenance for KG&E. Then First National Bank started making plans to locate in Haysville, and Dannels jumped on the opportunity to switch career tracks.
Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the July 25 print edition of the Haysville Sun-Times. To see stories like this sooner and to get all your community news, become a subscriber. Call 316-540-0500 to get started and receive our next edition at your home.
“The first week that I was there, we opened accounts in a rental space in a laundromat,” he recalled. “That didn’t last very long; just until they got their structure built.”
First National Bank became Prairie State Bank in 1990 or 1991. When the 1999 tornado struck, the bank was severely damaged. It fell to Dannels and his staff to maintain bank services while rebuilding.
In the tornado’s aftermath, “I grabbed some things, went up to the bank, and I think it was like three days later that I finally got back home again,” Dannels said. He had to guard the property and make sure that financial records stayed secure.
For several years afterward, the staff held a “tornado-watching party” and picnic on the tornado’s anniversary.
As Prairie State Bank was merging with Emprise Bank in 2006, Steve Carr contacted Dannels and asked if he would be interested in opening a new branch of Community Bank in Haysville. Dannels said yes, and some long-time employees also made the jump to the new bank.
“I appreciate Community Bank for taking a risk and allowing myself and my staff to help establish the bank in Haysville,” Dannels said. “I was really fortunate.”
Dannels and his wife, Carol, each have a son living in the area, and Dannels has two grandchildren. In retirement, Dannels is looking forward to spending more time with family.
He is also looking forward to spending more time on an unusual hobby: big game bowhunting. His office at Community Bank was decorated with the pelt of a nine-foot-long, thousand-pound Alaskan brown bear he arrowed from a distance of 30 yards. That pelt came home with him when he retired.
“My office was bigger than my living room, so now that I’ve taken it home, I had to kind of angle it to get it to fit,” Dannels said.