Robert Wayne, a Merced resident for six decades, is remembered for many things, particularly his willingness to help other people and advance worthy causes in the community.
Wayne, 86, died Monday after a lengthy illness. Memorial services will be at 2 p.m. today at Central Presbyterian Church in Merced for Wayne, the co-founder of Merced School Employees Federal Credit Union.
Wayne and the late Bill DeSimone formed the teachers' credit union in 1954 with seven members who each chipped in $5, said Nancy Deavours, the credit union's current chief executive officer who started there 32 years ago. In the early days as a volunteer officer, Wayne kept members' records in a shoebox at his home. In 1957, he left his teaching job at Hoover Middle School and became the credit union's full-time manager.
"He was a very good friend and an outstanding, very capable person," longtime friend Florence DeSimone said. "He was very thoughtful and helped other people. He did a lot to help young people apply for scholarships."
Wayne's longtime friend, Bill Winnie, said Wayne was truly a loyal individual, a man of great convictions and very thoughtful. He quietly evangelized others, leaving Christian tracts for waitresses and also was known for assembling cartoons and jokes which he shared with people who were hospitalized, Winnie said. They met in 1959 when the Early Risers Toastmasters Club was formed.
A former president of the Merced Symphony Association, Wayne was a native of Knoxville, Pa. who attended Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania, receiving his degree in history and economics. He received a master's degree from the University of Pittsburgh and came to Merced in 1949 to teach. He had been an eighth-grade core teacher and part-time vice principal at Hoover School before switching career gears.
Deavours succeeded Wayne as credit union leader in 1993 and said he developed a personal rapport with all his employees.
Now the credit union has 85 employees, $370 million in assets, four branches and 36,000 members.
"He was remarkable, dedicated to the credit union and credit union philosophy of people helping people," Deavours said. "He was a firm believer in great member service and allowed employees to reach their full potential. He had a lot of character and great judgment."
In the late 1980s, Wayne took five of the original seven "investors" to lunch and gave them back their $5, she said. The credit union's annual meeting in March will be dedicated to Wayne and a training room at the North Merced headquarters on Olivewood Drive is named in his honor.
Wayne hired Dana Sanders, the credit union's marketing manager, as a part-time teller 31 years ago.
"Mr. Wayne was really good in making sure credit union employees received education," Sanders said. "He was really involved in the community and encouraged the staff to be, too. He had an open door policy and got to know his staff."
Laurice Cuculich was a longtime friend of Wayne's and served on the credit union's loan committee. She said her friend had a great sense of humor and a strong sense of morality.
"He was just a fine person," Cuculich said. "He and Caryl (his wife) were such a positive element in the community. The whole community benefited from them even if they didn't know it."
Deavours said Wayne was a director in the California Credit Union League and active in credit union activities at the local level. He had been involved in the academic decathlon and kept financial records for the Virginia and Cyril Smith scholarships.
"He looked for the good in people and he went to bat for people and the staff," Deavours said.
Wayne served in the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. He is survived by Caryl, his wife of 51 years; two daughters, Greta Heiss of Modesto and Renata Farley of Tennessee, and seven grandchildren.
Contributions to the Central Presbyterian Church Deacon's Fund or the church building fund, or the Alzheimer's Society of Mayasthenia Gravis Foundation.