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Seeking new experiences: Wells Fargo's Hagen to retire

Shortly after obtaining a two-year business degree from Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D., Karen Hagen moved to Detroit Lakes to take a job as a bank teller at First National Bank -- now Wells Fargo. She will retire from her position as a personal banker for the local branch next month. A retirement open house for her is set to take place on Thursday, June 4, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. (Photo by Vicki Gerdes)

For 37 years now, Karen Hagen has spent every weekday working at the same Detroit Lakes bank.

During that time, her job title has changed from teller to loan officer to personal banker, and the name of the bank has changed too -- from First National to Norwest to Wells Fargo.

She's had several different bosses, including Arnie Porkkonen -- who gave Hagen her first job as a bank teller -- the late Bob Harris, and most recently, Ladd Lyngaas.

But the biggest change of all, Hagen says, has been the technology bankers use to do their business.

"When I started in banking, we did a lot of hand posting," she adds.

Today, most transactions are posted electronically, via personal computers.

"Technology has really streamlined things," Hagen says, "and Wells Fargo really has a great training and support system for its bankers. There's always someone there to answer your questions."

Over the years, Hagen has really enjoyed interacting with her clients.

"The customer relationships are what I enjoy most," she says. "I have some families that I'm working with the third generation (of clients). I feel like they're part of my family, I really do."

The most satisfying part of her job, Hagen says, is "working with people and helping to meet their needs in a changing banking environment."

But after nearly four decades on the job, Hagen has decided it's time to try something new.

"After 37 years, I think I'm just ready to have the time to do some things I haven't experienced before," she says.

As in the past, Hagen also plans to spend some of her time volunteering: Over the years, she's been involved with the Chamber of Commerce and its Ambassadors program; the United Way of Becker County; Toastmasters International, the American Heart Association and Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Detroit Lakes.

"Wells Fargo has a commitment to community involvement... Bob Harris, and now Ladd Lyngaas have encouraged the involvement of its employees in this community."

"During her 37-year career at Wells Fargo, Karen has excelled at delivering outstanding service to our customers and our communities," said Ladd Lyngaas in a press release. "Our customers valued Karen's strong background in community banking, her energy for community involvement and her focus on satisfying all of our customers' financial services needs and helping them succeed financially. We will miss her, and wish her good luck in all her future endeavors."

Through the years, Hagen has also appreciated the opportunity that the bank gave her to adjust her work schedule around the activities of her now-grown children, Mike and Lisa, by working four days a week instead of five.

"And in latter years, they've allowed me to take leaves of absence for traveling," she adds.

Still, the Rosholt, S.D., native is looking forward to the chance to have more personal time.

"My husband Mark and I like to travel, and I'm also interested in spending time with my children, my mom and dad and extended family," she says. "I also enjoy reading, camping, biking -- and I'll have more time for golf!"

Those who would like to wish Hagen well in her retirement are invited to an open house on Thursday, June 4, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Bank, located at 211 W. Holmes St. in Detroit Lakes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454