Hopp retires to pen songs

Leary will become Steamboat's first female bank president Jan. 1

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Tom Hopp, president of Wells Fargo Bank in Steamboat Springs, will leave the financial world behind Jan. 1 when he leaves his 27-year banking career to write and produce country songs.

Jill Leary, Wells Fargo's Steamboat store manager, has been named to replace Hopp.

She will become Steamboat's first female bank president.

"I think it's important for Steamboat to have a woman bank president," Hopp said. "She's the right one for the job. Jill is the most qualified candidate. I was a strong advocate for her."

"My first priority is service to the customer," Leary said. "It doesn't matter what bank or what industry you are in, that's No. 1. Second, I want to value the staff. Good people are hard to find, and if you have them, you want to keep them."

Leary has more than 30 years of experience in financial services and has been with Wells Fargo in Steamboat Springs since 1979. Her job descriptions at the bank have included management of consumer lending, deposit operations, bookkeeping and retail sales. Leary is on the board of Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Association. She has been a board member for Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey and Morning Star Shelter.

Leary expects to become even more involved in the community. She said she is confident about her new role.

"There isn't anything about running the bank that scares me," Leary said. "Tom has been good about delegating, and I've done it all."

"Tom has been a tremendous leader in helping our team meet the financial needs of our customers so they can succeed financially," said Greg Winegardner, regional president for Wells Fargo in western Colorado. "I couldn't be more pleased to have Jill accept this new responsibility. Her depth of experience will serve our customers well."

Hopp joined Wells Fargo in 1976 as a teller. He was named president of the bank in Steamboat in 1999, assuming responsibility for two branches here, as well as one in Winter Park.

The role of women in the banking industry has evolved over the past decade, Hopp said.

"We do have women presidents in our organization in Colorado," Hopp said. "Wells Fargo in particular espouses diversity. It is important to our organization."

Hopp said the banking industry also is more competitive than it was a decade ago. The new banks in town are evidence that Steamboat has growth potential, he said.

Hopp said his future plans are centered around writing, producing and selling country songs. He does not intend to perform live but will play a variety of instruments while making demo tapes on a 24-track recording deck set in his home.

Hopp said he will miss the sincere people he has worked with when he retires. His most rewarding moments have come from helping people realize financial goals.

"One of the nicest things about being in the banking industry is that you are in a position to guide people financially," Hopp said. "You can assist people to see what is possible financially. I've seen people fulfill their dreams."

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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