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John Remme left his mark on Worthington through bank work, volunteerism

Worth Knowing: Remembered by friends and family members as an accomplished but humble person, Remme belonged to a number of local civic groups over the years and made a career at Worthington Federal Savings Bank.

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Editor's note: Each week reporter Matthew Guerry shares the life stories of residents of Minnesota or the Dakotas who have died recently. Maybe you don't know them, but their stories are worth knowing. If you have a suggestion for someone to be featured, email mguerry@forumcomm.com or call 651-321-4314.

Five days a week, John Remme would meet with friends for coffee at a local cafe or restaurant.

The group went back decades, moving from one place to another as businesses changed hands or names in a ritual practiced right up until the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We joked a lot about, we closed up a lot of coffee shops," Russ Rickers, a friend of Remme's and long-time attendee, said recently.

At Worthington Federal Savings Bank, Remme's attendance record was similarly spotless.

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"I never missed a meeting," he told The Worthington Globe last year upon retiring as the chairman of its board of directors.

A fixture at the bank and in the Worthington community, John S. Remme died at home on April 30. 2021. He was 82.

Remembered by friends and family members as an accomplished but humble person, Remme belonged to a number of local civic groups over the years and made a career of working at the bank. Starting as a real estate loan officer there 58 years ago, he went on to become president and CEO in 1977 and was elected to the bank board later that year.

Over the course of Remme's career at the bank, it grew from a primarily real estate and commercial loan-based institution to one that offered such products as certificates of deposit, checking accounts and money market deposit accounts, in addition to other financial services. It also moved locations twice, the final time in 1976 to a building constructed on 11th Street and Fifth Avenue that Rickers said "is a monument yet today."

According to Rickers, who met Remme as a customer before joining him on the bank board, Remme was instrumental in the bank's move to that building, which it still inhabits.

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Remme remained on the bank board after retiring from his post as president and CEO in 2000, and stayed on past its mandatory retirement age.
"We kind of bent the rules a little bit because of John's experience and knowledge," said Doug Tate, the bank's current president and CEO, in an interview. "We wanted to keep them on the board as long as we could."

Tate, one of Remme's last hires, said he learned from his boss to treat customers and employees well, and that the bank will continue to promote from within as Remme made a point to do.

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Born in Luverne, Minn., on September 12, 1938, Remme was the son of Stan and Edith Remme. He graduated from Luverne High School and later from Worthington Community College and Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D.

His marriage to Lavonne Padilla, with whom he had three children, ended in divorce. In 1992, Remme married Patricia Linder, whom he met at a friend's wedding anniversary party. As a couple, the two were active in the many of the same civic organizations and remained together until his death.

Private and sometimes quiet, Remme professed to have few hobbies, according to Patricia Remme, save maybe for his coffee get-togethers.

"He said, 'I don't hunt. I don't fish. I don't golf. I enjoy going to nice places to eat and drive a nice car. And that's all," she recalled in an interview. "And we did go to nice, nice places."

Remme was devoted to God, having belonged to the American Lutheran Church since 1963, and to his community, which he served through his work and volunteerism. He was president of the Worthington Chamber of Commerce in 1981, served two terms as a director of the Savings League of Minnesota, was a two-time recipient of the Worthington Community College Community Service Award, a member of the noon Kiwanis Club from 1969 to 2000, served 26 years from 1972 to 1998 as the secretary and treasurer of the Blue Jay Booster Club at the Community College, a Chamber of Commerce ambassador for 10 years, and a charter member of the local Elks Lodge, where he served as treasurer for 10 years.

"He loved this town, and the community. He was all about family, faith and country," Patricia Remme said.

Remme is survived by his wife and children.

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