Banking in Washington has undergone a lot of changes since Eldridge Kendrick first went to work for the D.C. Bankers Association. "To my recollection, for the first 25 years I was employed there was no such thing as a bank robbery in D.C.," Kendrick recalls. "and now they're averaging 100 a year."
Kendrick, 65, retired as executive secretary of the bankers group on Jan. 31 after 44 years of service. He started as a messenger in 1935, was named acting secretary in 1942 and in 1944 was appointed secretary of the association, which represents the interests of the banking industry in the Nation's Capital.
Former Metropolitan police chief Maurice Cullinane has taken over Kendrick's work. Cullinane retired from the police force in 1978 after 23 years of service that included heading the department from 1974 to 1978.
Kendrick was born and educated in Washington where he attended the Columbus University School of Accountancy and the Washington chapter of the American Institute for Banking. He worked briefly for a local lumber company before he joined the Bankers Association.
Among the changes that Kendrick has witnessed have been the growth in branch banking and the creation of late Friday banking hours.
"i remember that interest rates were more stable and more dependable, whereas today the rate will change a quarter of a percent twice a month," he said.
In the early days Washington was much less a center of international banking than it is today, Kendrick said. "i think it's good that some of the larger banks are inclined to be looking for international accounts," he commented. "but they must keep in mind the service to the local community and take care of the needs of the District."
As executive secretary, Kendrick was charged with the day-to-day administration of the association and organizing such events as its annual convention.
Thomas P. McLachlen, chairman of McLachlen National Bank and a long time friend of Kendrick's, said he will be missed. "he's just one of the finest people I've known in my life," McLachlen said. "he made the D.C. Bankers convention a delight to go to . . . He lays out a program for you and every minute is there. He's a perfectionist and people like that don't grow on trees."
Collinane, who joined the association as a security consultant after his retirement, said that the some of the big issues facing District bankers this year are the gross earnings tax and the usury ceiling. He said that the current 15 percent ceiling is not realistic in today's money market and that "to remain competitive we are going to try to get the ceiling removed entirely and let the rate fluctuate in the market." The association will become more involved in government relations and will work closer with the American Bankers Association as well as continue its low-interest student loan program, Cullinane said.
In the area of crime, Cullinane said that although robberies continue to plague area institutions, computer theft poses an equally serious problem in the future as more and more banks computerize their operations.