Bob Schumacher Honored with Herb Wegner Lifetime Achievement Award

Retired CEO of Blue Mountain Credit Union received the Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement Monday night, the highest honor in the national credit union movement.

On Monday night, in a ballroom at the Marriot Marquis in Washington, D.C., retired CEO of Blue Mountain Credit Union Bob Schumacher took the stage one last time at the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards Dinner, an event he hosted for two decades. This time, though, he was announced by emcee Denise Gabel, COO of the Northwest Credit Union Association, to receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor in the national credit union movement.

“I feel like I’m at the wrong podium,” he quipped. The Wegner Awards are presented by the National Credit Union Foundation, which says the awards “celebrate individuals and programs that put belief into action. Their achievements fulfill the mission of promoting financial freedom for millions of people around the world.”

Schumacher’s connection to the Wegner Awards began at the very beginning of his career in credit unions, he recounted, when Herb Wegner himself recruited Schumacher to leave his job in hotel event planning to join CUNA. “I always said that the Wegner Awards were the best night of my credit union year,” he said from the stage. “Well, tonight is the best night of my credit union life.”

Bob’s credit union career spanned 35 years, from CUNA, to the leagues, to a CUSO, to taking the reigns of Snohomish PUD Employees Credit Union, which eventually came to be called Blue Mountain Credit Union.

“Bob is one of the most dedicated and devoted followers of the credit union philosophy who has worked on all levels of the movement,” said John Gregoire, chair of the Foundation’s Wegner Awards Selection Committee and president of The ProCon Group. “His impact particularly on Foundation programs such as the Community Investment Fund, Biz Kid$ and the Credit Union Development Education Program is beyond belief. Anyone who has had the opportunity to be touched by Bob’s contagious energy and enthusiasm comes away a more committed individual.” 

Bob Schumacher shaking hands

Schumacher received a standing ovation from a sold out crowd that he used to entertain as emcee.

As CEO, Schumacher oversaw the credit union through mergers, a headquarters move, and crucially, kept a hand on the rudder during the most tumultuous events in the modern financial services world—9-11 and the 2008 recession. Schumacher was also a tireless advocate in Olympia, Washington and in Washington, D.C. and maintained strong relationships with elected champions.

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Schumacher worked alongside the NCUF National Program Director Lois Kitsch to help create the CUES-Philippines’ Credit Union Training & Education Foundation (CUTE) program. This program provided credit unions throughout the Philippines with a training curriculum centered around prudent financial disciplines, purpose-driven sustainability and much-needed methodology models.

Taking his vision a step further, Schumacher worked with the Washington Credit Union League (now the Northwest Credit Union Association), to start their first-ever International Development Committee, which he chaired for over 3 years. The committee orchestrated two learning and assistance tours to the Philippines and the CUES Philippines Project so that others could learn first-hand how the program worked.

He finally attended the CUDE program himself in 2001 and became a tireless advocate for cooperative philosophy and principles. He also became a sought-after facilitator, mentor and speaker, reaching hundreds of DEs with his message and enthusiasm. Believing firmly that the DE program is “the one legacy we need to leave to each other in order to remain credit unions,” Schumacher did more than his part to reach new DEs year after year.

In 2002, Schumacher was recognized with a CUNA Marketing Council’s Hall of Fame Award, and in 2006, with the Washington Credit Union League’s Ambassador Award.

Schumacher’s retirement in 2011 from Blue Mountain may have marked the end of an era, but it wasn’t the end of the road. He continued to serve the movement for another three years as a consultant, focusing on training and developing qualified credit union board members with The Paragon Group.

“Bob has had a long lasting impact on so many people in the credit union industry,” said Mark W. Morrison, President/CEO, MountainCrest Credit Union. “No matter where I travel, I always have someone say how much they adore Bob. Many people tell me stories about how they were inspired by Bob in developing and advancing their careers. Bob has made me and countless others proud to be able to say that we are able to be a small part of his life.”

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Awards, CUNA, Events.