At Midwest Bank, we value our tradition of exceptional personal service; A tradition respected in the markets we serve and reflected in the relationships we build.
A Story of Four Generations
Five generations of the Cooper family have shared the story of Clyde and Lizzy.
For five generations the Cooper family has passed on the philosophy of working together to assess and respond to the needs of customers; working together to continue as a good employer, to demonstrate corporate citizenship and provide a fair return to shareholders; and working together to give something back to the communities served. Over the years the Cooper family has given generously in response to civic and charitable requests. In 1997, a charitable foundation was established to further this spirit of giving. Jim's daughter, Lu Schell, is president of the Cooper Family Foundation.
Midwest Bank focuses on the financial and civic needs in the markets we serve. The bank's solid capital position provides the financial strength to support larger lending limits, new loan types, and the latest customer conveniences and technological advances. This, together with a strong emphasis on personal service, allows Midwest Bank and its clients to excel in the communities they serve.
Clyde Cooper and his wife Elizabeth "Lizzy" Huntington Cooper, were both born in Ohio. After the Civil War, they migrated west to the banks of the Missouri River. There Clyde operated a ferry, moving other settlers, goods and supplies across the river near Council Bluffs, Iowa. Clyde wanted solid ground under his feet, so the couple moved on, looking for farmland in Iowa then Nebraska. They found their home near Pilger, Nebraska, where they raised four sons and two daughters.
The Coopers were a typical rural family of the day. The farm operation made the homestead primarily self-sufficient. Their crops fed the livestock that then fed the family. In the 1800s, rural families relied on few store-bought goods. Instead they made the things they needed, including clothes, candles and soap, and made do with what they had. All the Cooper children attended school.
Through the years, Clyde and Lizzy remained in farming. So how does their story turn to banking and touch the communities of not just Pilger, but also Plainview, Deshler, Pierce, Creighton, York, Norfolk and Lincoln?
In 1911, three years after graduation from Pilger High School, Clyde and Lizzy's son, Bob C. Cooper, married Hazel Bordner a young lady whose family had moved to Nebraska from Pennsylvania. The couple decided to homestead in South Dakota. Their son, Jim, was born there in 1913.
Life was harsh on the small homestead. Summers were drier than Bob remembered them to be in Nebraska. Winter blizzards were more frequent and severe. For heat, the couple burned coal, when they could get it. More often the heat source was cow chips and corn cobs.
After five difficult years, Bob and Hazel returned to Pilger where farmland was better and family was nearby. Their new farm grew to include crops, a dairy and a few hogs. Bob started a hog and fat cattle buying station in Pilger for Bowls Livestock Commission Company out of Omaha and discovered he was a trader at heart. He would trade just as hard for a watermelon as he would a train load of cattle. The family prospered; and in 1923 Bob bought half interest in the company and moved the family to south Omaha.
Jim picked up on the cattle marketing business from his father. After graduation from high school, he worked in the Omaha stockyards in the morning and in his father's office in the afternoon, where he realized he needed accounting skills. When he enrolled in a local business college, he met Lillian Aden, a farm girl from Gothenburg. They were married in 1932. They had two children, a son Bob A., and a daughter LuAnn.
Several years later, Bob and Jim bought a farm near Ashland. Working together, they invested in farmland and cattle feeding. Jim managed the crop and cattle production; Bob did the buying and selling.
In 1947, Jim moved his family to a farm in Iowa where Bob A. and his sister Lu grew up. The close business association of Bob and Jim continued as Bob A. learned farming, cattle feeding and good business practices first hand from his father and grandfather. After graduating from Iowa State and fulfilling his military obligation in the U.S. Navy, Bob A. moved to Texas to start his own farming and cattle feeding operation. He and his wife Anne have four daughters. Lu also graduated from Iowa State and became a homemaker, raising four sons and one daughter.
Over time, Bob recognized a need to provide financing to good managers that wanted to integrate their farming operation and market their grain through livestock.
The Coopers Moved Into Banking
In 1952, the Coopers moved into banking with the acquisition of the Farmers National Bank of Pilger, the town near Clyde and Lizzy's home place. As the Cooper's expanded in banking, Midwest Bank was established in 1998 with headquarters in Pierce. Today, the Cooper family owns majority interest in locations in Pilger, Plainview, Deshler, Pierce, Creighton, York, Norfolk and Lincoln. Jim's son, Bob A. Cooper served as chairman of the board until 2004. Since then his daughter, Robin Wilson, has served as chairman of the bank, while Bob continues to serve as chairman of the holding company. Lu's son, Dave Schell, currently serves on the board of directors, along with chairing the audit committee.