The Holt family started as bankers in Uniontown on May 10, 1901, with an investment of $5,000.
“The bank’s assets are around $60 million total,” said current Union State Bank President Bryan Holt. “That is an increase of about 20% over this time last year. There’s currently nearly $5 million in Tier 1 capital.”
For five generations they have served the banking needs of their community, starting with Emmit Holt, then his son, Curtis, then his son, Kent, then his son Kenny, then his son, Bryan. All these were in succession.
Kent Holt, 89, remembers the first job at 12 years old. He helped his parents, Curtis and Helen, where he could.
“One of my duties was the Address-o-Graph, that machine that addressed envelopes,” Kent said.
By that time in the early 1940s, his mom and dad were the owners of the bank.
Kent became president when his father died at 62 years old, he was 35 years old.
When he was the president he could do any job in the bank, he said. But through the years, the industry has become more complicated.
“The big change was computers coming to the bank,” he said. “it was slow coming in, and in stages. Then we had to hire more people.”
Kenny Holt was president and CEO of Union State Bank from 1993 until 2018 when he retired. He died in November 2019.
To view his story:
Fifth-generation president, Bryan Holt, became president and CEO of Union State Bank on January 1, 2019.
“I returned to the bank in 2005 after working for 10 years in the accounting and tax software industry,” Bryan said. “I had always wanted to work in the family business and was, and still am, grateful for the opportunity to do so.”
Changes that Bryan has seen in the banking industry also include technology.
“Most recently, the ability to conduct business via a mobile device has been a game-changer in terms of service,” Bryan said. “Our mobile banking app allows for users to deposit checks via their phone, which is extremely convenient. We’ve also added our debit cards to mobile wallets, which allow for payments via mobile phone. Personally, I didn’t see this as a great addition, but after I used it, I use it as often as I can.”
Through the years Kent’s wife, Marilyn, and sons, Kenny and his wife Nancy, and Randy and his wife Debbie, and daughter, Susan Eldridge, worked at the bank, along with some of their children. Then grandsons, Bryan and Chad, and his wife Amy.
Daughter, Debbie Likely, chose to teach for her career.
“Holt family members currently working in the bank include Randy Holt, Susan Eldridge, Chad Holt, Amy Holt and myself.,” Bryan said. “Aiden Holt( Chad’s daughter) works part-time in Uniontown during the summer and Claire Holt (Bryan’s daughter) works as a part-time teller in Fort Scott.”
In 1992, the bank opened a branch in Fort Scott, just off Hwy. 69 and 12th Street.
“We have 16 full- and part-time employees between the two branches.,” Bryan said.
Kent Holt Remembers a Bigger Community
Like most small towns, the population of Uniontown has shrunk.
Uniontown used to have more people, Kent Holt said.
He tried to remember all the businesses in town while he was working at the bank.
“Stroud’s Grocery Store, Griffith Elevator and Lumber, Bishard Grocery Store, there was an old folk’s home, Gates-the blacksmith, several filling stations-Ira Steele’s was one, a barber shop-Raymond Mosier, telephone company, two doctors-Dr. Miller was one, a dentist, Arch Ramsey, we were the only bank in town,” Kent said.
Flora Klenklen was his secretary for several years, then Alice Ramsey.
Kent Holt said he just faded out, he didn’t really retire, and was a member of the bank’s board of directors until about five years ago.
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