At Choice Financial locations in smaller communities, the customers and bankers often feel like family. They see each other not only at the bank, but at the grocery store, eating out, church, the post office, and all around town. In Ellendale, Don and DuAnn are those customers. They have been part of the Choice family in Ellendale since 1984. Over the years, the team has come to know the older couple well.
“They’re caring, friendly people,” said Holly, recalling a time when her husband was sick, and DuAnn regularly checked in on them. “They’re just very likable.”
It was a sunny summer day when Don, his sister-in-law, and his daughter came into the bank. Diane Henningsen, the frontline operations manager who has worked with Don and DuAnn often, noticed that the family seemed quiet and somber. She asked them how things were going — and was shocked at the answer.
“DuAnn is in the hospital,” Don said. “She’s been given two weeks to live.”
DuAnn had had a sudden heart attack, which led to kidney failure. She was rushed to the nearest hospital, 40 minutes away in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Doctors were able to revive her, but her body was slowly shutting down.
After the family left, she shared the news with the rest of the team.
“We knew right away we wanted to do something to help them out,” Holly said.
Darcy and Holly planned to bring them a meal that evening. Holly called her daughter, Macy, (who has helped her mother with many Choice projects and events) and asked her to get the meal started. They made hamburger hotdish and cheesy garlic bread, with fresh brownies for dessert. That evening, Holly and Darcy drove over to the couple’s house with the meal.
When they knocked on the door, Sammy, the daughter, answered. She looked teary-eyed and confused.
“How did you find out so soon?” she asked.
Holly and Darcy looked at each other. They had no idea what Sammy was talking about.
“DuAnn died a few hours ago,” Sammy went on. “We just got the call from the hospital on our way back from Aberdeen.”
She ushered in Holly and Darcy, who were feeling quite shocked. They told the family they had brought them a meal to share.
“They were so thankful,” Holly said. “They didn’t know what they were going to do for supper that night. That’s not what was on their mind.”
Don was eager to talk about DuAnn, about vacations they shared and adventures the family had had together. The couple has two kids, a boy and a girl, and adopted their daughter Sammy as well. They were just weeks away from celebrating 59 years of marriage.
Don took Holly and Darcy’s hands as he spoke, with tears in his eyes.
“We were all kind of crying,” Darcy said. “It was hard. There were lots of hugs.”
They stayed together for close to an hour, listening to the stories and reminiscing about DuAnn and the impact she left on many lives. Before they left, the family thanked them again for the generous meal. They even came into Choice later that week to express their gratitude.
“We were just happy to lighten their load,” Holly said.
‘Commit to our customers with undivided attention’ is a Choice core value that the Ellendale team took to heart. As a result, they were able to be there for a local family in one of their greatest times of need.
Feature photo: (from left to right) Holly, Sammy, Don and Darcy