We have not forgotten our past, and the friends we lost on that tragic day in April of 1995.
On April 19, 1995, shortly after 9:00 AM, Oklahoma City endured a brutal act of terrorism — the blast that lay to waste the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, and shook the countryside for miles. The horrific and shocking image of the disaster seared itself into the minds of millions of Americans. Every floor of the Murrah building became a tragic story.
Allegiance Credit Union was known as Federal Employees Credit Union (FECU) at the time.
FECU suffered a fearsome blow. While other offices in the building were branches of larger federal organizations, such as Social Security and Veterans Administrations Services, FECU was wholly located in the destroyed structure. The 75 million dollar credit union served over 15,000 members worldwide from that office.
There were 33 employees of FECU. 18 employees, a board member, and a credit committee member died in the blast. 5 surviving employees were not in the building at the time of the blast. 10 other credit union survivors were in the building — some escaped with cuts and bruises, while others were taken to the hospital. Many of the remaining survivors were too traumatized to return to work.
Reflections From Florence Rogers
Florence Rogers, President/CEO of FECU at the time, was just beginning a meeting in her office with seven other members of the credit union on that fateful morning. For her, only a split second separated a day of orderly and satisfying business from a nightmare of destruction and tragedy. The concussive force of the explosion ripped through her office and slammed her into the far wall. Steel beams and slabs of concrete thundered and crashed around her; one piece of debris weighing tons landed inches from her head. When her mind and vision cleared, she looked up —what was once the far wall of the office, was now only a treacherous ledge. The rest of the office, including her seven friends and co-workers, had disappeared. All that remained was a smoking pit, 3 stories deep.
At the time, Florence Rogers gave this statement following the tragedy:
“Everyone who is able has worked tirelessly to restore the credit union, so at least our members won’t need to worry about their accounts during this terrible tragedy. And, of course, we couldn’t have done it without all the help from other credit unions. We can all, members and employees alike, be proud to be credit union people.”
People scurrying in and out of a busy office, some working on computers, some on telephones, and others at teller stations or desks, preparing to help members with their banking needs — this was the scene at the temporary branch of Federal Employees Credit Union, just 48 hours after a bomb destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building where the credit union had been located. With only 3 of the employees of FECU and the aid of many volunteers, the credit union was open for business on Friday, April 21st, at 9:40 A.M.
The following 45 days after April 19th, 22 Credit Unions, some from other states, sent 58 volunteer staff to assist us. We were miraculously restored and taking care of our members’ needs within 48 hours at a temporary site furnished to us by Tinker Federal Credit Union.
Another quote from then CEO Florence Rogers, taken from a newsletter printed in June of 1995: “People ask me how I go on; how I come to work every day after having lost 20 of the dearest people I know. It’s a fair question I suppose. How do you go on? Yet at times it also seems like a silly question. If the alternative is to not go on, then there is no alternative.”
“Going on is my tribute to the FECU employees and volunteers who died. They were dedicated credit union people. From Kathy Finley, who had been with FECU for 21 years, to Christy Rosas, who had been with us for only a week. They knew, as those of us who survived know, that a credit union, like a church, is its members. Buildings rise and fall. Employees, even the most loyal, come and go, but a credit union is passed from one generation of members to another. Those of us who spend our lives as caretakers of the credit union count ourselves among the lucky ones who do truly honorable work.”
“How do I go on? Every member who calls or sends cards and flowers gives me strength. Every employee from another credit union who jumps in with both feet and serves FECU members as if they are their own, gives me strength. Every hug, every tear, every ‘God bless you,’ and every dollar donated to a victims’ fund gives me strength. And, the memory of the 18 employees and 2 volunteers for whom this special issue (newsletter) is dedicated gives me strength.”
“Perhaps the eagle on our logo should be the phoenix instead. Like that great bird of legend, FECU will rise from its ashes. Those of us who survived to help in the rebirth will go on, because that is what the others would want us to do. God bless all of you who have given us strength to go on. And God bless those we have lost.”
People Helping People
Our philosophy of “people helping people” has taken on new meaning since April 19th, 1995.Chairman of the Board at the time, Jack Querry, had this to say about the assistance FECU received shortly after the tragedy occurred:
“As we all know, the most terrible, cowardly, and senseless act that one could imagine occurred on the spring morning of last April 19th, killing twenty members of our official family, seriously injuring others, and destroying the credit union’s physical facility. The personal tragedy and devastation was so terrible that it could have easily been the final chapter in the history of Federal Employees Credit Union. Thanks to the grace of God, and the help, support, and understanding of our surviving official family; the National Credit Union Administration; the Oklahoma Credit Union League; the Oklahoma Banking Department; CUNA Mutual Insurance Group; many credit unions in Oklahoma and across this great land of ours; our members and many others, our credit union was given a second chance. We owe a great debt of gratitude to these fine people and to you, our members.”
1995 was a year for Federal Employees Credit Union that will go down in history, and a year that will never be forgotten.
At the time of the bombing, the branch in the federal building was all we had, and FECU served the federal employee community. Today, with our 5 branches, we are a thriving financial institution that serves all residences in the Oklahoma City metro area.
In Loving Memory Of Those We Lost
We respectfully remember these employees of Federal Employees Credit Union — our friends and family that live on in our memory.
Woodrow Clifford "Woody" Brady, 41, Oklahoma City
Kimberly Ruth Burgess, 29, Oklahoma City
Kathy A. Finley, 44, Yukon
Jamie (Fialkowski) Genzer, 32, Wellston
Sheila R. Gigger-Driver, 28, Oklahoma City
Linda Coleen Housley, 53, Oklahoma City
Robbin Ann Huff, 37, Bethany
Christi Yolanda Jenkins, 32, Edmond
Alvin J. Justes, 54, Oklahoma City
Valerie Jo Koelsch, 33, Oklahoma City
Kathy Cagle Leinen, 47, Oklahoma City
Claudette (Duke) Meek, 43, Oklahoma City
Frankie Ann Merrell, 23, Oklahoma City
Jill Diane Randolph, 27, Oklahoma City
Claudine Ritter, 48, Oklahoma City
Christy Rosas, 22, Moore
Sonja Lynn Sanders, 27, Moore
Karan Howell Shepherd, 27, Moore
Victoria Jeanette Texter, 37, Oklahoma City
Virginia M. Thompson, 56, El Reno
Tresia Jo "Mathes" Worton, 28, Oklahoma City