As I sat down to write this year’s holiday letter, I knew it was going to be a bit more difficult than years past. It’s not that I don’t know what to say, it’s that I have so much I want to say. This December marks my 37th Christmas with Bank of Utah and my last as President and CEO. In just a few short weeks, I’ll be retiring. So I decided that perhaps the best way to approach this message was simply to say what’s on my mind as my retirement nears.

I am honored that you have allowed me to be part of your life through Bank of Utah.

I think back to when I joined the Bank in 1986. I had been an audit manager for a national firm and a controller for a savings and loan association. I had no idea how incredible it would be to become a community banker, to have families and businesses entrust their finances to you. Nothing has meant more to me in my career than helping you work toward your financial goals and achieve your dreams.

I am happy to have worked alongside you to build up our local communities.

Bankers become community bankers because they want to help their communities thrive, financially and by making a difference through service — I know I did. One of my favorite holiday traditions at Bank of Utah is our Warm Bodies, Warm Souls clothing drive. This year we celebrated its 10th anniversary by collecting 460 large bags of warm clothing and $5,400 for Utah charities. Nothing is as wonderful as lending a hand to those in need.

I am humbled by your continued support of the Bank, and I know that some of the brightest years are yet to come.

Your loyalty means everything to me, and all of us at Bank of Utah. We come to work each day with one mission in mind: to ensure that you have the quality financial support you deserve. This mission has driven us to become one of the strongest and most stable banks in Utah and in the U.S.

As our longtime Chief Business Officer Branden Hansen steps into his role as President and Ben Browning becomes CEO, I know that they will work hard to meet your needs and our communities’ needs. Everyone at Bank of Utah will. Nothing is more important to us. I will also continue to work on your behalf as a board member of Bank of Utah and to strengthen the banking industry as a whole as a board member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines.

And finally, a holiday thought to wrap up:

Every winter evening when I leave my office in downtown Ogden, the lights of the city’s Christmas Village illuminate the short walk to my car. If I look closely, I can even see a miniature replica of Bank of Utah’s headquarters. For 37 years, those lights have greeted me as I’ve headed home.

As I watch people enjoying the community display, I can’t help but think that they are the reasons Bank of Utah works so diligently to remain strong. They are our neighbors, our friends and even our family. You are, too. Your future is important to us, and Bank of Utah will forever work to be steady, reliable and innovative — for you.

Saying happy holidays one last time,

Douglas L. DeFries, President & CEO