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Kitsap Bank says goodbye to one of its own
Gail Morse likes to say that he’s not a big bank banker. And his career proves it.
After more than 33 years in the banking business, Morse will grab his things, wave goodbye and close up the Silverdale branch of Kitsap Bank for his last time on Friday.
Morse, vice president and commercial loan manager, is retiring.
“What will I miss the most?,” he asked. “The daily interaction with customers and my fellow employees,” he said. “And what won’t I miss? The paperwork, the mounds and mounds of reports.”
That’s just the attitude he should have after spending a dozen years at the Silverdale branch. Prior to that he worked at the East Bremerton branch and at a branch at 6th and Park in downtown Bremerton.
But Morse has been in banking for his entire career. He started straight out of college with the Seattle Trust and Savings in Olympia, after he graduated from the University of Puget Sound. He also worked for the Puget Sound National Bank and it was with that bank that he moved to Kitsap County. When that bank was taken over by Key Bank, he opted to go to work for Kitsap Bank.
“I’m just not a big bank banker,” he said. “Key Bank was not my style of bank, so I began to search and took a job with Kitsap Bank.”
That was 17 years ago.
Morse said he likes the idea that smaller, local banks give loan officers the the ability to make decisions without having to take matters to a bank committee.
“Here, we are given the responsibility to make decisions for our customers,” he said. “We’re here really to help them without a lot of bureaucracy.”
Although he’s done just about every job in a bank, including being a teller, a vault teller and working with new accounts, he’s focused most of his years on the lending side of banking, helping small business owners.
Banking has changed throughout the years, he said.
“When I first started, we wrote loan documents by hand,” he said. “Now everything’s done on a computer.”
He’s seen a lot of banking regulations change, too.
“We’ve seen a lot of that more recently,” he said. “There’s always been ups and downs. But things are good with the regulations that are in place now.”
What’s been most important to him in his career has been his ability to be a friend to his customers.
“No matter what, my customers have all become my friends,” he said. “Building that trust is so important and even though we may have our differences, we’ve always walked out as friends. I feel very lucky to have the satisfaction to call my customers my friends.”
Steve Politakis, CEO of Kitsap Bank considers Morse one of the last “gentleman bankers.”
“Anybody who knows Gail, knows that first and foremost, he’s a true gentleman,” Politakis said. “He is highly regarded by his clients and a devoted family man who loves camping and fishing. Our Silverdale branch is one of the busiest and he knows everyone by name.”
Morse, however, hasn’t just been behind a desk at the bank the past 17 years. He’s been an active member of the Central Kitsap community and has served on the Kitsap Mental Health board of directors. He’s also a member of the Silverdale Rotary.
“It’s a great experience because we give so much back to the community,” he said of Rotary.
In fact, he has a favorite memory of his time serving as part of the Rotary’s duck race fundraiser. It was about five years ago.
“I told the tellers that if they met our goal of the number of tickets sold, I’d sit in a dunk tank,” he said. “They met the goal and I spent a day in the dunk tank. All my employees and my customers came out to see it.”
Just as important to him is his family. He and his wife, Rebecca, have two sons, Daniel and Joshua, and a daughter, properly named Abigail.
“Gail was my grandfather and my uncle’s name,” he said, noting that with the spelling he has of Gail, he’s taken some hits for it. “I just couldn’t do that to either of my boys. But my wife and I thought Abigail was perfect.”
Their children were raised in Kitsap County and they have a home on five acres in Seabeck.
And now, with his sons living nearby and his daughter set to move from Texas back to Seattle soon, he’ll have all his kids and his four grandchildren nearby.
“My wife retired a year and a half a go,” he said. “We plan to spend time with the grandkids.”
They also plan some fishing trips and traveling. They travel by RV with friends and hope to see more of the country including the East Coast in the fall.
But come Saturday, Morse and his wife will get up, get ready and get in the RV. They’ll head out for the ocean.
“And then we’ll head south,” he said. “We’ll see my brother and some friends. Who knows what after that.”