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Honoring the Legacy of Community First Founder Maury Dresang

Visionary leader remembered for being a credit union pioneer in Wisconsin, U.S.

March 14, 2019

Community First Founder Maury Dresang was a trusted and visionary Fox Cities businessman who leaves a legacy as a credit union pioneer in Wisconsin and across the country.

The Community First flag at our Home Office – aptly located on Dresang Way in Fox Crossing – is flying at half-staff in honor of our beloved Maury, who died March 11 at age 90.

A memorial service for Maury will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 16, at Valley Funeral Home, 2211 N. Richmond St., Appleton.
Visitation will be from 4-7 pm Friday, March 15, and from 9-11 am Saturday.
Maury recognized the beauty and simplicity of the credit union business model of people-helping-people by offering fair and affordable basic financial services. In 1953 with several Outagamie County coworkers, he organized a credit union to serve county employees. He served as volunteer manager/treasurer, a role he held for over two decades in addition to his full-time jobs. This role was the precursor to his last and most impactful career in credit unions. 

While continuing to run the Outagamie County Employees Credit Union, in 1966, Maury was asked to manage the Zwickerknit CU. Three years later, the Appleton Postal CU came to him and asked for help. That’s when an idea began to form. He proposed that the three credit unions combine their resources to hire him full time along with one part time employee to be able to provide full time service to their respective members.

On July 1,1970, the Appleton Credit Union Service Center opened for business in the Blair building on Wisconsin Ave. It was a novel idea and the first of its kind in the nation. By the end of 1974, the center was serving nine individual company credit unions. 

In 1975, Maury decided that the center should have a credit union that would be open to members of the community, and chartered the Appleton Community CU. By 1977, the center had grown to serve 13 credit unions: Zwickerknit, Appleton Postal, Outagamie County Employees, Presto Employees, Interlake Paper, Fox River Paper, Wisconsin Wire Works, Elm Tree Bakery, Appleton Municipal, Foremost of Wisconsin, Kurtz & Root, Appleton Machine and the Appleton Community CU. 

After petitioning the State Legislature to change the law to allow mergers, he engineered the largest merger of credit unions in the country and combined the 13 individual credit unions into one. Total assets were just over $7 million with 7,000 members. The name was changed to Appleton Area Credit Union, known today as Community First Credit Union. 

Maury always said “there is only one way to have a successful business - you need to have a lot of happy, satisfied customers.” He retired from Community First in 1993.

In addition to founding Community First, Maury served as Chairman of Wisconsin Corporate Central Credit Union and was a Director of the Wisconsin Credit Union League from 1970-1991, serving as Chairman from 1986-1989. He served as a Director of the Credit Union National Association and was appointed by Governors Dreyfus and Thompson to serve on the Wisconsin Credit Union Review Board. Locally, Maury served on the Fox Cities Chamber Board, as Chairman of the Fox Cities Marathon, Future Neenah Development Corp. and was named Small Business Person of the Year in 1986.

Today, Community First is Wisconsin’s third largest credit union and has been recognized for years as one of the top U.S. credit unions for financial strength.

A kind and thoughtful man, Maury’s passionate belief in the people-helping-people philosophy can also be seen in Community First’s volunteerism and community involvement throughout Northeast Wisconsin where our 137,000 member-owners live and work.

Maury’s full obituaryis provided by Valley Funeral Home. Maury was also honored in the March 13 edition of the Appleton Post-Crescent.

Thank you, Maury, for your exemplary vision, gentle guidance and expert leadership!