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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Jeff Cowan keeps working his way up

  • When you do a good job, word gets around. That’s what happened to Jeff Cowan, Ponca City, Okla.

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    When you do a good job, word gets around. That’s what happened to Jeff Cowan, Ponca City, Okla.

     

    “If you volunteer to do something, enjoy it and do a good job, pretty soon you find that you’re in 12 organizations,” Cowan said during a telephone interview.

     

    Now Cowan, the president of RCB Bank Ponca City, finds himself sitting on the Board of Regents of Northern Oklahoma College. He was appointed to the board by Gov. Mary Fallin to serve out the unexpired term of Jeff Smith, Ponca City, who resigned. His term will end June 30, 2014.

     

    “The board is kind of an overseeing body,” Cowan said. “My appointment was based on my financial background.”

     

    Cowan grew up in Arma, the son of Gloria Cowan and the late James H. Cowan. He is a Northeast High School graduate and earned a bachelor of science in business administration with majors in economics and marketing from Pittsburg State University.

     

    He started his banking career shortly after his graduation.

     

    “I’ve been with RCB Bank, formerly Pioneer Bank and Trust, for 28 years, and I was with another institution for two years before that, so I’ve been in banking for 30 years,” Cowan said.

     

    He started out as a consumer lender and later worked in the commercial lending area. Cowan was promoted to vice president, lending in 1988, senior vice president in 1996 and executive vice president in 2002. He has served as president of RCB Bank Ponca City since January of 2008. He was recognized as Officer of the Year in 1990 and 2001.

     

    In his 30 years, Cowan has obviously learned a lot about banking and finances, but he said that’s not all his mentors at the bank have taught him.

     

    “I’ve come to understand from my mentors that you have to give back to  your community,” he said. “In fact, a measure of your self-worth is what you give back.”

     

    It’s a lesson he’s learned well. Cowan currently serves as University Center Foundation treasurer, is a member of the Ponca City Chamber of Commerce board, a member of the Pioneer Technology Incubator Advisory Board and a member of the Chamber’s Retail Task Force Committee.

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    He previously served as president and campaign chairman of the Ponca City United Way, was treasurer of the Ponca City Public School Foundation and the Ponca City Economic Development Advisory Board.  He served on the City Planning Commission, the Ponca Energy Board and was co-chairman of the mayor’s Vision 2020 Task Force. He’s a graduate of Leadership Ponca City.

     

    Cowan said that he has also been strongly influenced by his family and by growing up in southeast Kansas. He is close to his parents and has deep respect and admiration for his late father, a World War II veteran who served as a personal guard to Gen. Omar Bradley, and all the others who went off to serve their country during the war.

     

    “What would I have done as a kid back in 1976 if I had been drafted into a war?” he said. “My dad and his brother didn’t wait to be drafted, they volunteered.”

    Cowan added that citizens outside the military also have responsibilities. 

     

    “For every election, national or state, get out there and vote,” he said, adding that citizens also need to be aware of candidates’ qualifications and positions on issues before they cast their ballots.

     

    Though he is so involved in Ponca City activities, Cowan enjoys coming back to southeast Kansas when he can to see his mother, his sister, Susan Lofts, and old friends.

     

    “Southeast Kansas is a wonderful place; the people are so cordial and friendly, and I have to get back to Chicken Annie’s and Chicken Mary’s,” he said.  “I was back in August for the Arma VJ Homecoming. No matter where you end up, I don’t think you ever, ever forget where you came from.”

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