Stories from Alaska USA Members

On December 6, 2013, Alaska USA marked its 65th anniversary of service to members.

Alaska USA was founded in 1948 as the Alaskan Air Depot Federal Credit Union on Fort Richardson, Alaska to serve the financial needs of Department of Defense personnel. Those new to Alaska had a need for consumer credit and local financial institutions were not meeting their needs. The founding members of Alaska USA recognized that a credit union, as a not-for-profit cooperative, could satisfy those credit needs and provide other financial benefits. Alaska USA’s origins are best told by its very first member, Edna “Smitty” Bruntzel, recorded during Alaska USA’s 40th anniversary.

“After World War II, many of us who came to Alaska to work at the Alaska Air Depot on Fort Richardson didn’t have enough money to get settled. And the government didn’t pay employees until they’d been on the job for two weeks. It wasn’t easy for us, especially during the winters.

So, 15 of us decided that if we formed a credit union, we could make loans to newcomers until they received their first paycheck. Then they’d be able to repay their loans. It would also give us old timers a fair return on our savings. All in all, I’d say it was an idea that worked out pretty well!”

Alaska USA’s services and delivery have changed over the years in response to members’ changing needs. However, for more than 65 years, the credit union's commitment to its cooperative principles and the purpose for which it was chartered has remained the same.

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2017 stories

…joined when I got stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base in ‘75.

I joined when I got stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base in ‘75. When I left two years later, I decided to keep the account – and I'm so glad I did! Fantastic customer service, no matter where in the world I was stationed during my 24-year Air Force career. Now, living in Ohio, I still depend on Alaska USA and will continue to forever. Thanks for being there, and for all your support!

-Gail D. | Richwood, OH

…all were made easy and hassle-free by the staff.

When I arrived at Elmendorf Air Force Base on assignment with the Air Force in September 1981, I joined Alaska USA. I got out of the military and remained in Anchorage until my wife and I retired and moved to Florida in 2012. Alaska USA financed five automobiles, three boats, and a home. Several were transacted with the aid of a fax machine, and all were made easy and hassle-free by the staff. I now live in Florida, but my primary financial institution is still Alaska USA, and will be for many years to come.

-Ed C. | Weeki Wachee, FL

…turned out to be the best financial institution I've ever worked with.

I've been a member for quite a while, starting back in the ‘90s when I joined to support Alaska businesses. Alaska USA has turned out to be the best financial institution I've ever worked with. Transactions are easy and stress-free, and the online account management is especially convenient. If you have questions or special circumstances, the customer service folks are informed, perceptive and efficient. You really can't do better than Alaska USA.

-AF M. | Shelton, WA

2016 stories

…our first time dealing with Alaska USA, and we like it.

My wife and I bought a new car, which Alaska USA financed, and we needed to add insurance. I received a quote from my current insurance company which seemed outrageous. So, I called Alaska USA and talked with Brenda. She was very helpful and thorough, getting us the coverage we needed. She also offered to quote our home for the bundle discount. The bottom line is, she saved us about $75 per month! Brenda is very pleasant to talk to and a great representative of your company. This is our first time dealing with Alaska USA, and we like it.

–Bobby M. | Tacoma, WA

…same account since I was 10 years old.

I’ve had the same account since I was 10 years old. My brother and I had a newspaper route and we both opened Alaska USA accounts on Elmendorf Air Force Base. I saved my money to buy a beautiful American Flyer bicycle we had put on layaway at the Base Exchange. When I finally paid it off I put colored plastic streamers on the handles and added a basket. We rode all over. The bike was sold when we moved to Indiana in 1971. I moved back to Alaska in 1976 and still had my account. I financed my first car through Alaska USA as well.

–HVivian M. | Anchorage, AK

…a pleasure to be members for the last 24 years.

We’ve financed six Harleys and several cars through Alaska USA. Even when posted overseas, all it took was a simple phone call and in minutes the loan was approved – that’s service! We have traveled all over the world and our Alaska USA debit and Visa cards have been accepted everywhere. It’s been a pleasure to be members for the last 24 years, and we look forward to many more. Thanks for your service!

–Howard and Pam W. | Pahrump, NV

…plan on being with them until I'm 160!

I joined Alaska USA in 1981 at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. I've maintained my account with them since. I'm now just shy of 60 years old and have seen them grow in locations, size, and technology. I have really enjoyed doing business with Alaska USA and plan on being with them until I'm 160! If I ever get to visit Alaska, I am going to drop in to one of the branches and say hello in person.

–Harold B., Deatsville, AL

…Thanks for the incredible service!

My wife and I were car shopping in the Seattle area, found the perfect car, and, much to our surprise, were able to drive it home that day. This was thanks, in large part, to the help of Josh and Jamie at the Northgate Branch. They went above and beyond in helping us to open an account, secure an auto loan, find insurance coverage, and troubleshoot small hurdles along the way--all of this on a Saturday afternoon no less. Thanks for the incredible service!

–Charles R., Seattle, WA

2015 stories

…I'm proud to be a member.

I recently traveled to England and ran into some problems with taking money out over here. I called you guys and the service I received from everybody was amazing. It wasn't easy but you guys stayed with me, made me feel special and cared about and everybody who I spoke to was friendly and polite. I'm proud to be a member and can't thank you guys enough. This could have been a nightmare but instead it was a easy and painless situation.

–Tristan, Washington

…A joy to work with.

I just wanted to praise Angela at the Overlake branch in Bellevue, Washington. I currently have an account with Chase bank and was looking to join a credit union. I was all set to join BECU but after talking to her about why I should choose Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, I choose you. A very knowledgeable and persuasive employee. A joy to work with. because of her, my teenage daughter and myself have changed banks.

–Roy, Washington

…no matter what problems we had, Alaska USA was there to help.

My husband and I moved to Alaska in ‘76. I went to work almost immediately for an insurance company. Several years later the doors were thrown open to join Alaska USA. We retired in ‘89 and took Alaska USA with us. We bought a 37.5-foot RV and lived the nomad life for 9 years. Yes, Alaska USA went with us. No matter where we were, I could talk to a caring, helpful person. What a help and joy it was to know that no matter what problems we had (RV blew a gasket, two flat tires), Alaska USA was there to help. We settled down here in Peoria in ‘99 and do you know, MY credit union is right here with me. Thank you for all these years of help.

–Winifred M., Peoria, Arizona

Alaska USA believes in me and I will be forever grateful.

Alaska USA recently financed my ‘new’ car. It was touch and go at the dealership until Alaska USA stepped up to the plate. Like so many, I have good credit, little debt, but limited income. Alaska USA believes in me and I will be forever grateful.

–Jack S., California

…they are my only financial institution.

I love Alaska USA. The online banking made it easy to keep my account open even when I moved to different states. I left Alaska in 2008 and still they are my only financial institution. Thank you, Alaska USA.

–Rose B., Vermont

2014 stories

…Alaska USA has been there from Iceland to Texas and all the moves in between.

I joined the U.S. Navy in December 1994. Direct deposit wasn’t required for military members yet, and almost everyone at my school for aviation electricians in Millington, Tennessee, opened an account at the base bank.

I stood in line for an hour to cash my check. I complained to a fellow classmate and he said I needed to join his credit union in Alaska. At first I thought he was joking, but he assured me he wasn’t. I called Alaska USA that day and they mailed me an application. I set up direct deposit, got an ATM card, and never looked back.

Over the last 19 years Alaska USA has been there from Iceland to Texas and all the moves in between. I’ve used the online services for loans and certificates. The first time I’d ever seen an Alaska USA branch was last year when my wife and I took a trip to Alaska for our two-year anniversary. Thank you for always being there for me and keeping my money accessible no matter how far apart we are.

–Jason B., El Paso, Texas

I got my Alaska USA account when I was 16. I’m 52 now…

My family moved to Anchorage, Alaska in 1975. I got my Alaska USA account when I was 16. I’m 52 now and have never had a problem with Alaska USA. Any time I needed a loan, they were always there for me. I now live in Idaho and still use Alaska USA and always will.

–Gayle C., Emmett, Idaho

My family joined when it was in a small room in the Air Force Police building.”

My family came to Alaska and joined the credit union when it was in a small room in the basement of the Air Force Police building. We have enjoyed our membership all these years through good times and sad times. Today I thought I might have a problem, but I did not. I was treated, as always, with kindness and understanding.

Thank you.”

–L.E., Tahlequah, Oklahoma

I was so impressed that I transferred all my accounts…

I joined Alaska USA while looking to secure a mortgage for our first home. I was so impressed with the service I got that I transferred all my accounts over to Alaska USA and have stuck with them ever since. Even after moving out of state!

Thanks for your high level of integrity in dealing with your clients.

–Joe J., Banks , Ore.

2013 stories

the employees at Alaska USA had my best interest at heart.

On a Saturday morning in 1996, I attended an auction and won a competing bid on a used vehicle. I learned afterwards that I was required to pay the full amount of the bid that same day. I had naively thought that there was a grace period to line up financing. I called Alaska USA from a pay phone and explained my predicament. They immediately coordinated with Credit Card Services and arranged to have the limit on my Visa card raised to cover the full purchase price. The following Monday, Alaska USA transferred the purchase amount from my Visa account to a low interest auto loan. It was readily apparent that the employees at Alaska USA had my best interest at heart. In my mind, Alaska USA sets the standard from which all other financial institutions are judged.

–James, Redmond, Ore.

Alaska USA said yes and helped me work through the process.

When I wanted to buy a house in Haines, my credit union at the time said no, they wouldn't take a chance on me. A friend in real estate suggested someone in the Alaska USA Mortgage Company Juneau office, and the rest is history. Alaska USA said yes and helped me work through the process. I became a homeowner for the first time at age 63. With recent extremely low interest rates, I went to refinance. Again, even with two years of solid mortgage payments under my belt, my other credit union said no again. Compare this to the loud and clear yes I got from Alaska USA! Having my own place is truly satisfying and stabilizing for me. I couldn't have done this without Alaska USA and would highly recommend all the different services Alaska USA has to offer.

–Evelyna, Haines, Alaska

Since then, we've continued to be Alaska USA members.

In 1967, we were sent to Alaska by the U.S. Air Force and my husband opened a savings account at Alaska USA. He left the Air Force in 1970 to pursue college in San Francisco, and took our family to California knowing we would come back to Alaska. We left $5 in our Alaska USA savings account to keep it open and at the end of 1973, we were approved for a loan to buy a motor home to get us back. At that time we drove the Alcan, spent Christmas Day in Ft. Nelson, and drove into Anchorage in a blizzard on Dec. 29. Since then, we've continued to be Alaska USA members and appreciate Alaska USA extending services over the years.

–Shirley M., Anchorage, AK

2012 stories’s more personable than a bank and the fees are lower.

I joined Alaska USA in 1994 through my job at the Salvation Army. I was a bank customer at the time, but closed my bank account because the fees were higher and the bank rejected my loan to buy a home. I haven’t used a bank since.

I’m happy with Alaska USA because it’s more personable than a bank and the fees are lower. In 2009 I received a loan from the credit union for my SUV and another in 2010 to enter a training program.

–Gail, Seattle, Washington

A financial institution that treated me like a customer and not a number.

I needed a financial institution that treated me like a customer and not a number. I found that when I signed up for membership with Alaska USA. Alaska USA is easy to work with, and the service is great - on the phone, online, or in person.

–Robert Quinn, Apple Valley, California

Alaska USA is right for me because of the extended hours and convenience.

In my town, there are plenty of banks and credit unions, but only Alaska USA was open when I needed to cash a check before my road trip. Alaska USA is awesome!

Another time, I didn't have time to cash a check before my flight. I just dropped it in the Alaska USA ATM and away it went - my money was ready for me when I landed in Tennessee the next day. Alaska USA is right for me because of the extended hours and convenience. I also love the staff - they are very helpful and give me the exact information I need at the right time.

–Shawna, Wasilla, Alaska

It is such a pleasure to deal with people who give their 100%.

I want to thank you for NOT being part of the problem that small business owners face daily in this tough economy. It is such a pleasure to deal with people who give their 100% and I see that each time I enter your Big Bear Lake branch or need to speak to someone in your call center.

When I do call, I not only get a real person, I get someone who cares and is very professional and efficient. I appreciate that your on-line system is easy, your fees are reasonable, and that I have had no issues. I live in Orange County and Big Bear Lake, California, so I need my banking and the people I deal with to be reliable.

Thank you and keep up the good work, Alaska USA!

All the best,
–Kathy Bambeck, Big Bear Lake, California

2011 stories

We have been members for almost 50 years, and four of our children are members.

We have been members of Alaska USA for almost 50 years, and four of our children are members. We have used many services at Alaska USA over the years and their rates and services have always been much better than any banks we have dealt with. Alaska USA was especially helpful to our children when starting out with their first credit cards and other financial needs. Our family would like to thank Alaska USA for being there for us all these years.
–James D. MacInnis, Sun City, Arizona

Even when I moved out of state for college the service has been amazing.

Alaska USA has been my parents' credit union of choice since moving to Kodiak Island in 1998. So when I opened my first account to hold allowance, I stuck with the best. They have promptly answered every single question I have ever had and made sure I understood. Even when I moved out of state for college the service has been amazing. They have helped me in person, through the mail, and over the phone with prompt accurate information. This is a great credit union and I'm proud to be a member.
–Bree Waltman, Kodiak, Alaska

Alaska USA has been part of my family for many years...

I don't know exactly how long I have been a member, but my mom got me an account when I was very young. She was a loan officer while I was growing up and I always remember visiting her at work. Even today as I am about to finish college, I can go back into the Alaska USA branch and many of the older employees still remember me. I have always loved the credit union, and I have told my friends about switching. Alaska USA has been part of my family for many years and I don't plan on leaving it while I stay in western Washington.
–Matt Broderick, Oak Harbor, Washington

2010 stories

I know it will always be there if I need it.

My mother opened my account for me when I was a little kid, so maybe it was even before 1962. My dad was stationed at Elmendorf, so that was before the Alaska USA days. As an adult, I use my account for savings and some loan activity. I haven't lived in Alaska for many years but won't give up my account. I know it will always be there if I need it. Thanks!
–Sheila Alfonso, Vancouver, Washington

I've been a member ever since I had my first job.

I've been a member ever since I had my first job. Recently, I found my first register with my deposits and withdrawals written in pencil. I was only 15 or 16. I wonder what I could have spent my money on back then. With all of the technology today, it's amazing what you can do online, like tracking bill payments, etc. Since then, Alaska USA has been my financial institution, through college, even with the purchase of my first vehicle. The staff has always been friendly and helpful. Thanks Alaska USA.
–Lena Naylor, Anchorage, Alaska

2009 stories

Like most young people, we needed to borrow a little here and there.

In 1959 I was at Elmendorf Airforce Base. Like most young people, we needed to borrow a little here and there. Our loan officer was named Leo, and he helped us when we needed it. I remember when I decided to buy a boat. I found the boat I wanted, so I called Leo and he said, “How much do you need?” Then he told me, “Drop by on your way back home and sign the papers.”

Alaska USA helped me out with a business I had with a friend. We worked with guys from the base to go out and pick up camper trucks, driving them up from the Lower 48. Then we sold them in Alaska. I occasionally needed a loan to get the vehicles. Being able to do this kept some extra food on the table.

We have lived in and out of Alaska over the years, but we have hung onto our Alaska USA account to keep our connection with Alaska. They’ve always been good to us. A good, solid place to do business with.
–Bill W., New Columbia, Pennsylvania

I’ve traveled all over…but I kept my Alaska USA account because it was so convenient.

I joined the credit union when it was Elmendorf Airforce Base Credit Union when I was in Alaska in the late 50’s. After leaving the military I went to work for the FAA and traveled all over the country and the world. I have lived in Texas, Washington D.C. and China. And now we’ve finally settled in Olympia, Washington. But I kept my Alaska USA account because it was so convenient.

I like using UltraBranch and Bill Pay, but before those existed I would call using the 800-number. The people were always friendly and helpful. I’ve bought 2 or 3 houses with the help of Alaska USA. Everyone I’ve ever dealt with has been great. Everything I’ve ever done with Alaska USA has been a positive experience.
–David M., Olympia, Washington

2008 stories

It’s rewarding to know that something so big and successful was started from the grass roots.

As a young G.I. newly arrived in Alaska, I couldn’t get any help from the banks. I was just an enlisted person, and the banks at that time didn’t want to give a loan to someone they thought would be in the State for just a short time. But I wanted to do some hunting and I needed a freezer. I was told: Go down and join the credit union. It was Elmendorf Credit Union at the time. I went to a tiny office in one of the barracks where they gave me the paperwork. I had to get three signatures, so I went down to the hanger and got the signatures I needed. They gave me the money right there. That was my first loan.

Those loans were pretty small loans, but they really made a difference. People got help to get what they needed and when they saved a little money they’d put it into the credit union. I kept my money in Alaska USA and when I left the military I was told I could keep my account. Alaska USA has always been good to us.

I saw them start from nothing. I even got to know some of the very first people who started it all. The people with single- and double-digit account numbers. It’s so rewarding to know that something so big and successful was started from the grass roots, and that it’s now such an important part of the community. The members are the ones that have made Alaska USA what it is.
–Les S., Anchorage, Alaska

Alaska USA helped us make ends meet early on…

My husband and I joined around 1955. We had moved to Alaska in May of 1954 with everything we owned in a truck and with our 10-month old baby. I worked at the civilian personnel office on Elmendorf, in the administrative section. My husband was working for the engineering section. My office was in an old barracks building. There was this little room in the same building, and that was the credit union. There was one girl – Dorothy was her name – and I got to know her personally since we worked in the same building. I know there were people on the Board, but to us the credit union was just Dorothy. I’m not even sure what she did with the money. Did she have a safe in that little office?

Our first car loan was in 1956, but I think we may have borrowed about $300 earlier than that to get work done on our new house in Chugiak. You see, at that time we were building our house paycheck to paycheck. When we moved in August of 1955, the studs were still exposed and you could see the roof through the rafters. Our windows hadn’t arrived yet, and the door was just wire mesh. But by the time winter arrived we had the place insulated.

I retired in 1989. I was postmaster of Chugiak at the time. We sold our place in 1991 and we’ve been full-time RVers since then, spending summers in Alaska and winters where it’s warm. Alaska USA helped us make ends meet early on, and they helped us buy our cars over the years.
–Delores S., Full-time RVer

Your account number becomes a part of your identity.

It was 1953 or 1954. I worked for the 21st Civil Engineering Squadron off the base doing remote maintenance and repair on real estate facilities. The team was 180 to 200 people under the direction of the Alaska Air command and we worked mainly on Aircraft Control and Warning facilities. There were about 24 sites all over Alaska. I retired after 28 years on May 28, 1982. I’ve lived in Alaska ever since.

My boss, Ed, had encouraged me to join Alaska USA. He was among the first 100 members of the credit union. You can see how fast they were growing at the time, though, because my account number is in the three-thousands. You know, your account number becomes a part of your identity. But here’s a true story: My phone number at work was the same as my Alaska USA account number. And, my home number was even the same number for a time!

The first loan I got from Alaska USA…it was $200 I borrowed for my brother’s funeral. I wired the money back to the family in Michigan so they could have a floral display created for his coffin. I also borrowed twice from Alaska USA in order to build my house.

I’ve always had very good luck with the credit union. I’ve always put my trust in them. I think about how that place started with just nickels and dimes and a group of people. It’s been going strong ever since. Back when it was first getting started, it was like a family, everybody knew everybody.
–Jack C., Wasilla, Alaska

…there were very few banks serving people in Alaska.

I spent 5 years in Alaska starting in 1958. When I came back from Vietnam in 1968 I decided to retire in Alaska. When I joined the credit union, all they had was a tiny office in the basement.

I joined Alaska USA because there were very few banks serving people in Alaska, and nothing really convenient to the base. You see, in those days we hardly ever went off the base – so it was great to have the credit union right there.

I dealt with National Bank of Alaska when I needed a business account. They didn’t come anywhere near treating me the way Alaska USA does. When I retired I set up credit with Alaska USA and traveled a lot. Then, all I had to do was call them and in 10 minutes the money was in my checking account.

My whole lifetime I’ve used them. Alaska USA was probably the first banking-type institution that had an 800-number. They’ve been really good to me. All I have to do is pick up the phone and I get anything I need. Now I’m in Texas and I deal with Alaska USA all the time – the only problem is the long pause when they ask for my account number! I think the person on the other line is waiting for me to say more numbers, but I reassure them – yes, it’s just four digits.

It used to be when it was small everybody knew everybody. But even now that Alaska USA is bigger they treat me so well – they treat me as a member.
–Sammy L., Dallas, Texas

That was when you walked in and shook hands to make a deal.

I’ve been a member for 50 years. I got my first loan in 1957. That was when you walked in and shook hands to make a deal. I even remember the name of my first loan officer. Nowadays, you can get a loan the same day. But when I got my first loan for a trailer, it took a week before I could get the money. They had to have a credit meeting before I got the money.

When I got out of the service, I went to Alaska USA for an interview and ended up working as a building engineer for 13 years. I retired from Alaska USA in 1988. I helped to build some of the buildings in Alaska that the credit union still uses. One Christmas, I was sent to the Philippines so Alaska USA could establish a branch on Clark Airforce Base.

Now that I’m retired, we still live in Anchorage, although we now spend winters in Southern California.
–Harold H., Anchorage, Alaska

…it was a group of friends that got it started.

I came to Alaska in 1930. My father was a county agent in Wyoming when he found out about an opening in Fairbanks. We lived there for a while, then moved to the Mat-su. It may surprise you to know that I am the girl who named Matanuska Maid. That’s right. That was in about 1938. I won a bicycle for my winning name.

In 1956 I married Henry Jay Bush. He was one of the men who started the credit union. That’s why my account number has just two digits. We married in 1957. Jay had come to Alaska in about 1945. He was the head of the propeller shop at Elmendorf. I don’t know a lot about the start of the credit union, but I do know it was a group of good friends that got it started. They were all good friends and they worked hard and played hard together. Those were amazing times in Alaska. Everybody knew everybody and they worked together to help each other out.
–Dorothy Ann B., Sterling, Alaska

…it has literally been with me every day of my life since I was 18 years old.

After basic training I was stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base with Armed Forces Radio and Television. I was 18 years old. When I joined the credit union in 1958 it was located in an old wooden building north of the “Green Monster” by the flight line - you could literally see through the cracks in the walls. Every single paycheck (military and civilian) I’ve earned since then has gone directly into Alaska USA. I financed several cars with the help of Alaska USA, and started a couple businesses. After leaving the Air Force I started the Columbia School of Broadcasting in Alaska, Alaskan Advertising & Marketing Consultants, and Record A Call of Alaska - all with loans from Alaska USA. Then I went on to start my own radio stations.

Eventually I became general manager of KENI Radio and KANC Radio. We did a lot of interesting things at KENI Radio over the years, including holding a “dirty pictures contest.”  After breakup viewers and listeners submitted photos they had taken around the Anchorage area of thawed out junky yards. There were some great prizes for the winners, including a vacation.

I left Alaska in 1978 and moved to Seattle to work for a group of national radio stations. Since then I have started several media outlets in the Puget Sound area.

What I’d like to say about Alaska USA is that it has literally been with me every day of my life since I was 18 years old. I’m very active in my community here in Silverdale,WA and I know senior executives from area credit unions. They have asked me for years if I would join their credit unions, but I always tell them no way - Alaska USA is part of my life.
–Henry S., Silverdale, Washington

I’ve been with the credit union so long, they know me.

When I first came to Alaska in 1956 with my husband, I really hated it. We got here at night and it was dark. The next morning when I got up I looked out the window and I said: “What have I done?” There were no paved streets – nothing. But I’ve been here ever since. Alaska really grows on you. I remember when I had to go home to California to care for the aunt that had raised me. When I returned to Alaska, I was so happy to be back!

I became a member of Alaska USA in 1956, but after a couple years I quit my job because I was going to have a baby. When I went back to work around 1958, I re-opened my account. I worked in the aircraft hanger at Elmendorf where they repaired planes. I made out the work orders for repairs that needed to be done. I’ve kept my account ever since then – even after going to work at the Native Hospital.

I retired in 1981 and have done a lot of traveling all over the world. Whenever I need some extra money, I can get a loan. But I never get a loan I can’t back up.

My son is a member of Alaska USA, too. Now he has a joint account with me – just in case. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Alaska USA. I’ve been with the credit union so long that many of the people know me.
–Wheeler W., Anchorage, Alaska

I’ve got a three-digit account number and it’s my connection to Alaska and to the early days.

I started working at Elmendorf Airforce Base in 1954 with the 10th Air Division building runways for the radar sites all around the arctic. Eventually I moved back in to town and started work on the base so I could be with my family. I moved on up to be one of the top ranks in Alaska.

Back then, a lot of people were coming into town and they’d need to borrow a few bucks. Then they’d pay it back and other people could come in to the credit union and get the money they needed. It helped me get started as a young fella. I had a wife and two kids. We added another kid while we were up there.

We went to New England after I retired in 1983 and bought a big farm. But I had been raised in Florida, so we eventually moved back there and started to raise goats on a farm. After that, we moved to Northern Florida. My son is still in Alaska. I’m hoping we can get back to Alaska next summer.

Alaska USA is something that started right there in Alaska and then it really blossomed. It started out with just one employee, then pretty soon there was a loan manager and a couple of assistants. Going to Alaska USA is not like going to a bank. It’s very personal. They know you.

I’m going to keep my account with Alaska USA. I’ve got a 3-digit account number and it’s my connection to Alaska and to the early days.
–John M., Branford, Florida

I joined because my boss had the very first account number at the credit union.

In 1934 I was the receptionist at the front desk of a large company in Minneapolis. It was a very sought-after job, but I moved to Alaska because my husband was up there. It took 2 days to travel to Seattle, then by boat for a week to Alaska. At the time I was 6 months pregnant and traveling with a 6-year old and a 3-year old. When I got to Anchorage, I became a telephone operator on Elmendorf.

Then I heard about a vacancy in maintenance and I went over to become the materials dispatcher. I joined the credit union because Edna “Smitty” Brunzell was my boss. She was account number one at the credit union. Well, I ultimately ended up working as a supply inspector on Elmendorf. I was involved in boards like the Awards Board, and I was a union rep.

I’ve been retired since 1973, and celebrated my 96 birthday this year. I’ve been a member of Alaska USA all this time.
–Austrid O. BG., Anchorage, Alaska

Our relationship with Alaska USA has expanded within the family circle over the years.

I started working at Elmendorf in 1945 as a civilian education and training officer. I learned about the credit union in a staff meeting with the base commander. He strongly recommended that we join. I’ve had some good connections with credit unions over the years, including ones in Louisiana and Florida.

My first husband and I homesteaded on the south shore of Lake Lucille. We’ve had the property since then and eventually passed it on to my daughter. With my career I have lived all over the U.S., but I finally made it back up to Alaska in 1989. I had kept my Alaska USA account all those years. Once back in Alaska, I made good use of my doctorate degree by teaching at UAA. Now I’m 91 years old and I live on that same Lake Lucille property in a house we built in 1989.

We’ve always had good experiences in our dealings with Alaska USA. Our relationship with Alaska USA has expanded within the family circle over the years. When I married Edwin G. Beu, Jr. in 1995, we set up a joint account at Alaska USA. My daughter and son-in-law are also members.
–Betty BB., Wasilla, Alaska

When I give them my four-digit account number there’s a long pause and they say you must’ve had this account for a long time.

In 1959 we came to Alaska for the first time – a young couple with a baby – to be in the military. We drove up from Colorado Springs with some friends and a couple of vehicles.  The weather in Colorado was still fine, but the Alcan had started to ice over. I was with my friend in the truck with a trailer. Our wives and the baby were in a Ford Fairlane with another guy who was going to be stationed with us. Well, we came up over a hill and saw that the car had flipped over. That was pretty scary, but when we got up to the car we were relieved to see that nobody was hurt. The baby was crying, but nobody was hurt. We were able to flip that car back over and we drove it the rest of the way in to Anchorage.

That was our first tour in Alaska.  My wife worked as an emergency room nurse at the old Providence Hospital.  That is almost a book in itself.  We returned in 1972, this time with 4 kids.  My wife returned to the new Providence Hospital, working for the very same person she had worked for on our first tour. We got to explore the state when we had the spare time. Our kids got to do things that they could have never done "Down Below." We left Alaska in 1975 and we’ve lived Outside ever since. My oldest son took his family back in 2000 to visit many of the places we had been. 

We used the Alaska USA account lots while we lived in Alaska.  It helped with the many trips, etc. we took in Alaska. Sure, I’ve hung onto that Alaska USA account – it was a good place to keep money because you never know when you might need it. Once, when we were traveling we needed some cash. I thought of that Alaska USA account and realized we could get money out of it at one of the nearby credit unions (with Shared Branching). Turns out we got the money another way, but it sure was nice to know it was there.

I don’t call Alaska USA all that often, but when I do I give them my 4-digit account number and there is a long pause. They say, “You must have had this account for a long time.” And I say, “Yes, I have.”
–Julian S., Phoenix, Arizona

I was among the first couple thousand members to join.

I’ve been in Alaska since 1947 and I was among the first couple thousand members to join Alaska USA. In those days I worked at Elmendorf as a civilian. Alaska USA was convenient for me then, and now they’re really convenient with branches all over town, including one in my Fred Meyer. ATMs and debit cards make it convenient, too.
–Sol G., Anchorage, Alaska

The service is always great.

We got to Alaska in 1957 and became members of the credit union in 1958. My husband was a pilot and he wanted to buy an airplane, a Super Cub. It’s funny to look back and remember that when we went to the credit union for a loan, they told us they didn’t have enough that day – we should check back in a couple weeks. Sure enough, when we came back we got the money and my husband was able to buy his plane. He kept that plane for 40 years. My husband was a great hunter. He wanted to move to Alaska to get that wilderness experience.

We’re still active users of Alaska USA. It’s so convenient now with lots of branches, and the service is always great.
–Phyllis HO.

I couldn’t be treated better.

I arrived in Alaska August of 1957, a World War II vet with a purple heart, and was stationed on Elmendorf. I immediately joined the credit union. I joined because it was a good place to put my money and a good place to borrow money. I can’t even remember how many boats I’ve bought with the help of Alaska USA, not to mention snowmachines, 4-wheelers, and cars. I renovated my home with a loan I got from Alaska USA. The credit union was even there for me with cash when I had to travel home to Minnesota on a couple family emergencies.

I worked in the Civil Service for 13 years after leaving the Air Force, then built airboats. I retired in 1983 and did hunting and fishing. At 87, I’m still hunting! I’m going on a moose hunt this year. But my first love is fishing. I learned about fishing by just going down to the docks and talking to people. Now I fish every year.

My wife and I bought a place in Arizona, and we will spend five months of the year there. But I’ve got all my money in the credit union. They treat me so well – I couldn’t be treated better.
–James H. M, Anchorage, Alaska

When Alaska USA took over Whidbey Federal Credit Union, I knew we were in good hands.

My connection with Alaska USA comes through my involvement with Whidbey Federal Credit Union. I was a part of the founding of Whidbey Federal Credit Union back in the 1950s. In 1983, the credit union became part of Alaska USA.

I started working on Whidbey Island Naval Air Base in 1947 in the civilian personnel office. I was involved in the founding of Whidbey Federal Credit Union. We started it in one room at the entrance to NAS Whidbey, in the building called the “Gatehouse.” At first we were open just two days a week, then up to five days a week. I was eventually elected to the executive board. I was on the board when we decided to disband the credit union and join Alaska USA.

When Alaska USA took us over, I felt that we were in good hands. Alaska USA has done really well over the years and I’ve been happy to be a part of it. All my financial services are done through Alaska USA. They are wonderful on the phone, and when I go in to the branch here on Whidbey Island, they are really friendly.
–Peggie S., Oak Harbor, Washington

We will always keep an account at Alaska USA…

I came to Alaska in the Airforce as an air traffic controller. In 1963, we had to rotate back to the States and we decided to buy a new car to make the trip – we had picked out a Chevy Impala. We couldn’t get financing anywhere. But Alaska USA, they gave us the loan, no sweat. We drove down the Alcan in our new car and kept that car for the next ten years.

We came back up to Alaska in the early 1970s. We always knew we wanted to come back. I retired in 1976 and remained in Alaska to raise our kids and start a new career in homebuilding. In the old days we got loans for all kinds of things like furniture and an old jeep.

We will always keep an account at Alaska USA so we can keep our contact with the credit union.
–BJ S., Rural Retreat, Virginia