Southwest Montana Community Federal Credit Union’s story begins in Anaconda’s hey-day as a copper-smelting boomtown.
A handful of smeltermen who put in long, grueling hours for their paychecks set out to find an efficient and beneficial way to manage their hard-earned dollars.
John Morris led the effort in 1941, broaching the subject of a credit union to the Anaconda Mill & Smeltermen’s Union. Arguing for the benefits of a credit union, Morris successfully swayed a group of his coworkers. Fellow smelterman Percy Sundberg joined the effort, reaching out to credit unions in Spokane, Wash., Salt Lake City and elsewhere to gather information.
As the idea gained momentum, it gathered a following. Patrick J. “Packy” Dolan, who was secretary of the Smeltermen’s Union, gave the effort a pivotal push when he reached out to union members to sign up as credit union members. He gathered 44 signatures, enough for the core group of smeltermen to apply for a charter. That historic application bears the signatures of Morris, Sundberg, Dolan, Albert Powdrill, Sr., Steve Wimsett, Einar Forsman, John Lenihan and Rick Dolan.
Idea became reality when on March 29, 1941, the Anaconda Federal Credit Union was created. Morris was officially its first member.
Following the charter, the credit union elected its first officers: Powdrill was president, Fred Grey was tapped for Vice President, Michael Spelman served as Treasurer and Hans S. Hansen was Secretary of Clerk.
The credit union shared a building with the Smeltermen’s Union Office and used borrowed equipment. It was run largely by smeltermen who split their time between the hill and the credit union.
The inaugural years were trying. People were hesitant to commit, and instead observed the credit union’s progress from afar. But momentum picked up in 1945, and the credit union held assets of $40,073.62. The institution hired two employees, moved out of the Smeltermen’s Union Office and continued enjoying growth.
The trend continued, and in 1958 the credit union constructed a new facility at 112 E. Commercial Ave.
The institution stayed in downtown Anaconda until 2008, when it moved to a brand new, modern facility at 1035 W. Park Ave. The new building has been a point of pride not only for the credit union, but for the community.
The credit union also operates a Butte branch at 1760 Harrison Ave.; the institution has done business in the Mining City since 1964. While the Butte operations began on Dakota street, they later moved to the Harrison Avenue building. In more recent years, the credit union built a new facility to replace the original building on the Harrison Avenue site.
While credit union originally served Anaconda Co. employees, it grew to serve railroad workers, Butte laborers and eventually in 1999, became a community chartered credit union, serving all those that “live, work, attend school, worship, perform volunteer services, or participate in associations headquartered” in Deer Lodge (Anaconda) and Silver Bow (Butte) counties.