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Ballinger retires as credit union CEO

After 45 years in the banking industry, Lower Valley Credit Union CEO David Ballinger felt it was time to retire.

"We have five grandkids, I like following their sports teams," he smiled.

Ballinger's last day was last Thursday, marking an end to 25 years at the credit union's helm.

He explained a transition towards his retirement actually began one-and-a-half years ago, with a plan towards retiring at the end of last year.

That plan changed when Lower Valley Credit Union opened a Grandview branch near the end of last year. As a result, Ballinger, 67, postponed his retirement by three months to help launch the new start-up.

"I feel comfortable it's running on its own," Ballinger said. "It's time to maybe enjoy life in retirement."

The Grandview branch is just the latest in the credit union's growth under Ballinger. "When I started we had $1.5 million in assets, now we have $52 million," he said.

What was a credit union operating out of a small house in Sunnyside has, under Ballinger's supervision, grown to feature three full branches; Sunnyside, Prosser and most recently Grandview.

He's quick to deflect the credit, though, praising credit union staff for their customer service and the work of volunteers, such as the board, for guiding Lower Valley Credit Union in the right direction.

Ballinger and wife Maxine call Grandview home, and in retirement he plans to indulge his hobby of collecting antique clocks and taking trips into the mountains.

Ballinger says he's leaving the CEO post in good hands, as Suzy Fonseca takes over the credit union reigns.

"I'm very confident she'll lead well," he said.

Fonseca has been with Lower Valley Credit Union for 12 years and served as chief operating officer prior to taking on the titles of CEO and president.

Fonseca, who is also pursuing a Bachelor's degree in business administration, is excited about the opportunity.

"I am honored to have been selected to lead our credit union in the next stage of our growth," she said, pledging to "continue our philosophies and commitment to quality."

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