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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 29, 2008 at 4:48 PM

Washington Mutual sale

You will be missed

What a sad day for Seattle when Washington Mutual was taken over by the FDIC and sold to JPMorgan Chase [“End of WaMu,” Times, News, Sept. 26].

Founded on the ashes of the Seattle fire in 1889, Washington Mutual has been a staple of Seattle for generations, helping people build and buy homes, encouraging thrift in children with their school savings programs, honoring every savings withdrawal during the Great Depression, sponsoring war-bond drives during WWII, holding jobs for employees deployed to war zones and supporting the growth of the middle-class through the 1950s and 1960s with home loans and savings products.

The 1970s brought changes; checking accounts, an innovative ATM network, increased mortgage and loan choices, more savings products, greater automation, expanded branching powers and still, WaMu stayed true to its core values of serving their customers and community.

1980s deregulation allowed the purchase of Murphy Favre and the merging of the high-roller stock business with the staid and stable banking business. Public stock offerings and an aggressive acquisition/expansion plan expanded the bank franchise quickly, yet remained coupled with corporate-supported community service.

1990s deregulation opened the door for riskier practices that made old-timers like me shudder. Increasingly aggressive lending practices and weighted compensation packages for loan officers, coupled with automated and centralized underwriting (which are easier to “scam”) paved the way for last week’s debacle.

Now we are all paying the price of greed, arrogance and mismanagement — both locally and nationally.

But I still grieve for that WaMu where I began my banking career in 1967. They served their customers, community and employees well.

Farewell old “friend of the family.”

— Paula Joneli, Des Moines

Goodbye, friend of the family

When I first heard the news about the failure of Washington Mutual, it brought a tear to my eye. As a Seattle native I remember getting my first savings account through the school program, walking to the bank with $1 and getting my passbook filled out by the teller.

After college, my first career job was at Murphey Favre, the subsidiary of Washington Mutual. Those were the days when it was a local but growing company. I was there for eight years but when I left, my relationship with WaMu did not end. My accounts were still there and later they held my mortgage.

WaMu has been a small part of me for most of my life so I am sad to see the “friend of the family” go away.

— Eileen Olson, Seattle

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