Julie Wojtowick was promoted to the position of Ryegate Branch Supervisor for the Continental National Bank on the first of September. Things have gone from busy to busier for her since then. But, she has been able to keep things in her circle because Ryegate and Shawmut are part of her and her family’s history.
Julie comes from a long line of hard-working men and women - Fochs, Lynn and Wrzesinski families - who worked the land, ranched, and served their communities. Her Great Grandmother Spearin taught in Ryegate many years and served as County Superintendent of Schools. Her Grandmother Helen Wrzesinski taught in Ryegate for 17 years and continued to help students with reading after her retirement. Helen is still remembered by former Ryegate students as an excellent teacher. Julie’s Mother was born in The Snowy Mountains and raised eight children in Shawmut. All this makes Mrs. Wojtowick familiar with quite a few folks in Golden Valley County. “I grew up with friends in Ryegate. We were in 4-H together.”
So commuting to supervise the Ryegate Branch of CNB seems to be just part of the Plan at this time of Wojtowick’s life. Julie tells that, “The Ryegate Bank opened in 1998. It was a big commitment. We looked at the fact that there hadn’t been a bank in Golden Valley County for many years.” Actually, Ryegate had three banks at one time and Lavina even had two decades ago.
Recent changes at CNB have seen Bill Hiner retire, Todd Hiner move from the Ryegate Bank and take the Bank Loan Officer position, and Julie relocate to be Ryegate Branch Supervisor. What’s the new job like? “Well, I’m traveling every day now – which I enjoy. I’m doing more with loans – new loans. Watching over the branch – the whole spectrum of operations from financial work to employees to maintenance.” And community involvement.
“We’re doing a lot with the Ryegate school and FFA. We’re developing a Community Bulletin Board at the Ryegate Bank. We had about 100 attend the Barbecue in the Park in October which we sponsored. More celebrations are on the way. Open houses for Harlowton on December 7 and Ryegate on December 14 will be the last celebrations of our 90th year in business. The Ryegate Bank Open House will feature the High School Choir singing and displays by four local artists.”
Wojtowick helped train Joetta Solnosky and Patti Bruner, the two other employees at Ryegate when they joined the Branch Bank on its opening. Julie is still training CNB employees. “I do a good portion of it.” Julie spends one or more days a month at the Harlowton Branch which also allows John Paulson and Todd Hiner to spend time at the Ryegate Bank.
Julie wants to “expand our customer base and help people in the Ryegate area. Give them what they need. We want to see more people use our online banking. It’s a great service for many of CNB’s customers. The bank has many conveniences for our customers – some they may not even be aware of. We enjoy seeing their smiling faces, but if it’s handier (and saves on gas!) just give us a call or bank by mail. We’re a full service bank.”
“And, customer service is on the top of my list. That’s what we’re here for.”
(The writer remembers living in California not that many years ago. Basic banking was all done by ATM and you had to pay extra if you ever wanted to see a human being. Not so here. Fortunately, small town banking still makes talking to a teller and transacting business face-to-face a part of regular customer service.)
Julie Wojtowick has worked for the Continental National Bank in Harlowton for nigh on to 27 years. Julie joined CNB when Red Piper was President. “Renee Miller, Shirley Schuchard and I have been here for almost a third of the Harlowton bank’s history. And at this point in my banking career. I’m able to learn about the banking business in Ryegate.”
“We really didn’t have computers when I started. We hand posted and figured interest manually in those days.
“The bank was half its present size and had no drive-up. The tellers were on the opposite side of the building. The ceiling had been lowered and the board room was upstairs. In the 1980 - 1981, we raised the ceiling back up, moved the tellers to the south side of the building, and put on the rear addition where the drive-up and board room are located.”
Julie has worked in many of the bank’s departments and was named Teller Supervisor and Head of New Accounts in January of this year. “I’ve covered what needed to be done. If the bank needs something done, I’m ready and willing to do it. I’ve enjoyed learning all my life, and am always happy to master a new skill to add to my experiences.”
“I started as a teller and left the bank to have my first baby. But, I was called back to help with proof operations for a while in December of 1981. After Jesamyn was born, I returned to work as a teller and helped at the new drive-up window.”
The Wojtowicks have two children. Jesamyn graduated a few years ago from Gonzaga University in Spokane where she studied psychology and criminal justice. She now works for Blattner Construction in Billings. Paxton is finishing his degree in automotive repair and autobody at MSU-Northern in Havre. He will be working for Kiewit Construction when he graduates in 2008
Julie Fochs Wojtowick was the HHS Valedictorian for the class of 1978. She went to Bozeman to study Business Education and returned to Harlowton to be a wife, a banker and eventually a mother. Tim Wojtowick was apparently always a motorhead. Duane Kolman and he worked way back when at Leary’s Exxon. Tim eventually bought and reopened his father’s old station in 1980 and Julie and Tim got married in 1980.
Julie Wojtowick is another one of those multi-talented Harlowton people. Grandmother Helen taught Julie to play piano which has been a welcome talent in many venues over the years. Julie has been playing for services at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church since 1981. She has watched 9 priests and nuns come and go at the church during that time. She also has accompanied at different time the Men’s, Women’s and Kids’ Choir for the Annual Kiwanis Show for over 10 years.
“I like to cook, bake and can. Especially peaches and pears. I usually have peach pies in the freezer. I just have frozen peaches in there now. Chokecherry jelly is my favorite. I enjoy the smells and satisfaction of time spent in the kitchen.”
Julie ran Ye Old Summer Shoppe for seven years before auctioning many of her antiques last summer. “We still go out antiquing, but not as much as we used to when I had the shoppe. Tim is into collecting fishing lures, now. I might reopen the shoppe when I retire. It’s possible.”
Gwen Tomlinson at the Mercantile often reminisces about when Julie had the Summer Shoppe and Diane Davis had her antique store and “more things happened in Harlowton.”
Julie says, “Everybody working together is what makes it go round.”
Julie Wojtowick’s life has always moved between Harlowton, Shawmut and Ryegate. “Family life near the land is very meaningful to me. It’s important to work with and serve the good people of our Big Sky Montana community. I keep making the circle. It’s nice to make the rounds. But, it keeps me hopping.”