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BANKING PIONEER WALTER C. RASMUSSEN DIES

 BANKING PIONEER WALTER C. RASMUSSEN DIES
 ST. PAUL, Minn., Dec. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Walter C. Rasmussen, 70,


founder, owner and entrepreneurial spirit behind a number of successful businesses including Northeast State Bank, an area landmark in northeast Minneapolis for 28 years, died after a long illness on Sunday, Dec. 22, at the University of Minnesota Hospital.
 Rasmussen's illustrious career started right after high school at Columbia Heights State Bank where he was hired on as a teller in 1939. For the next 20 years, Rasmussen began a step-by-careful-step building process that eventually provided him with the financial resources necessary to buy controlling interest in his first bank -- 13th Avenue State Bank. During those building years, he ran a grocery store, managed a fast-food restaurant called the Cottage that was a precursor to McDonald's, and worked in a foundry.
 In 1963, Rasmussen renamed his bank Northeast State Bank of Minneapolis and moved it to its present well-known location at Broadway and Marshall streets northeast. A year later, he founded the Guaranty State Bank of Robbinsdale which he sold 20 years later after building assets there to $28 million.
 In 1978, Rasmussen opened the first branch of Northeast State Bank in Columbia Heights after several business leaders asked him for help in revitalizing an aging downtown. Ironically, the new branch office was located at 40th Street and Central Avenue northeast -- the same exact location where Rasmussen had started his banking career as a teller almost 40 years earlier. Rasmussen's most recent banking venture was the opening of a second branch of Northeast State Bank in Coon Rapids in 1990. As of September 1991, total assets for all three banking operations had grown to an impressive $107 million.
 According to those who knew Rasmussen, his great success was due to a combination of solid business principles, innovation and community involvement. Good friend and business associate Warren Thompson, reports that Rasmussen always ran a "first-class operation. There has never been a question about solvency or financial security at Northeast State Bank," he said. "It is continually rated as one of the best-run banks in the country. And Walter did it himself," Thompson added. "It didn't come automatically. He was there every day bringing with him dedication, hard work and knowledge of the business."
 But as John Rajkowski, a reporter for the Columbia Heights newspaper wrote in 1984, as much as Rasmussen seems to fit the stereotype of a good banker or businessman, "he is much more unique than typical." Rasmussen's small-town roots greatly influenced his attitudes and convinced him that his banks should seem more like a friendly neighbor than a bank. For example, Rasmussen was one of the first to keep his bank open Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. "We have shirt-sleeve banking on Saturdays," Rasmussen told the Columbia Heights. "None of us dress up. So people can come in here relaxed and see people who are relaxed, too. We've done that for 25 years."
 One of Rasmussen's most notable innovations were the parking lot "parks" he built at Northeast State Bank on Broadway and Marshall and at Guaranty State Bank in Robbinsdale. Over the years the parking lot parks have been used for everything from arm wrestling tournaments and ethnic festivals to homecoming celebrations, an Oktoberfest, a rope skipping contest and a polka festival.
 Community involvement and leadership were also central to everything Rasmussen did on the business front because he recognized early on that a strong community means a strong bank. Rasmussen put this philosophy to work successfully for 50 years. He served on the board of the Minnesota Orchestra and sponsored a performance at the United Nations in 1968. He has sponsored concerts and numerous other performances at Edison High School in northeast Minneapolis. His bank made a donation to build the first Habitat House for Humanity in Fridley, the cause made famous by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn. Rasmussen served on the Fridley Housing and Redevelopment board for almost nine years. He was a founder of the Anoka County Economic Development Partnership.
 Community leadership, Rasmussen once said, is like a football team. There are quarterbacks and there are linemen. The quarterback might get more attention and praise, but the team can only succeed if the whole team does. "You have to be a team player," he said, "and you have to think of yourself as a catalyst."
 There was only one other pastime that filled Rasmussen's life with as much joy as his family and business interests, according to those who knew him, and that was fishing. He loved his walleyes and his salmon, said one friend. "In fact he was known as the human net."
 Rasmussen's immediate family includes his wife Beiva and four sons, Dr. Charles L. Rasmussen of Albuquerque, N.M., Robert L. Rasmussen and wife Peggy of Plymouth, Minn., Walter C. Rasmussen Jr., of Fridley, Minn., Benjamin T. Rasmussen of Minneapolis and granddaughter Elizabeth Ann Rasmussen, also of Minneapolis. Rasmussen also had four sisters, Rhoda Logan of Edina, Minn., Dorothy Haugee and husband Morris of Alexandria, Minn., Virginia McDunn and husband Adrian of San Diego, and Georgia Gerth and husband Godferd, also of Alexandria. His family also includes mother-in-law Mrs. Hanriette and brothers-in-law Ronald Henriquez and wife Edith of Costa Rica and Milton Henriquez and wife Mirriam of Aruba.
 A memorial service will be held at Fridley Methodist Church on Thursday, Dec. 26, at 11 a.m. Rasmussen will be buried near his home town of Pelican Rapids during a private ceremony at Maplewood Lutheran Church, Maplewood State Park in Erhard, Minn. The Reverend Roger Pinckney will officiate. The family has asked that those wishing to send flowers make a donation instead to the Rasmussen Memorial at the American Lung Association or the American Heart Association.
 -0- 12/23/91
 /CONTACT: Steven L. Miller of Coleman & Christison, 612-227-9391 or 612-894-6803/ CO: Northeast State Bank of Minneapolis ST: Minnesota IN: FIN SU: PER


JT -- NY094 -- 5051 12/23/91 19:27 EST
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Date:Dec 23, 1991
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