On June 16th, 2014, severe weather pounded northeast Nebraska, nearly leveling the small village of Pilger. Midwest Bank, a mainstay in Pilger for over 60 years, was destroyed by the tornado that ravished the community. While Midwest Bank has grown and expanded over the years, their roots are deeply embedded in Pilger.
In 1952, Bob C. Cooper acquired Farmers National Bank in Pilger, the foundation on which Midwest Bank has been built. Today, the Cooper family owns majority interest in locations in Pilger, Plainview, Deshler, Pierce, Creighton, York, Norfolk, and Lincoln. While the particular building that started it all has been lost, the spirit and confidence in the future of that small village has not been lost. “Many of our employees, including myself, are natives of Pilger. We are so proud of how the residents of Pilger have taken on this unplanned challenge and we have great confidence in what the future holds for Pilger,” stated Doug Johnson, Midwest Bank President and CEO. “While the bank’s physical presence in the community has been temporarily interrupted, our support for the community and its’ residents will not be impacted.”
While Midwest Bank is in the planning process for a new full service facility in Pilger, a location in Wisner, NE has been secured that will be remodeled and opened to serve clients in the Pilger area. “While our primary focus will be to serve our existing clients in the area, we are excited to build new relationships in the Wisner area as well. Wisner has been very supportive in our relocation process and we are very appreciative,” added Johnson.
Shortly after the devastation was realized, the Pilger Community Development Fund was set up at Midwest Bank to accept donations to aid in recovery and rebuilding the community. The fund has received hundreds of donations from both highly organized fundraising efforts as well as a lemonade stand operated by a young girl who raised $70. Blake Rotherham, chairman of a committee of volunteers responsible for distributing these funds, said that 100% of the donated money will be distributed. No expenses for managing the money will be deducted.
Midwest Bank’s Lincoln location has been truly moved by the kindness of individuals and businesses alike in Lincoln. “The distance between Lincoln and Pilger on the map seems far but you would never guess that based on the generosity we have seen. Raising Cane’s in Lincoln donated 10% of sales and Culver’s restaurants across Nebraska sold $1 scoops of custard to benefit the Pilger Community Development Fund. These are just two of many examples of our business community pulling together. We know that our friends in Pilger truly appreciate the outpouring of support, and we at Midwest Bank echo that sentiment,” said Brian Wolford, Midwest Bank Lincoln Market President.
As for Pilger, there are many people asking ‘What’s next?’ For Midwest Bank, the answer is easy. “Pilger will rebuild. It will look different, it will feel different, but it will still be Pilger and will always be the town too tough to die. Midwest Bank is committed to being back in Pilger and will do whatever it takes to restore our hometown.”
For more information about Midwest Bank, visit us online
at www.midwestbank.com or visit us in Lincoln at
2655 Jamie Lane, (402) 420-0560.
Donations are still being accepted at all Midwest Bank locations or online at www.lcf.org/pilger.
Donations can be mailed to:
Pilger Community Development Fund
c/o Midwest Bank
PO Box 346
Pilger, NE 68768