By Ed Elfmann
The agricultural banking community lost an industry icon with the passing of Frank Bruning on June 1. At the time of his death, Bruning was 94 and chairman emeritus of Bruning Bank in Bruning, Nebraska.
Bruning began his career in 1964, taking a position at the bank his grandfather helped launch in the late 1800s. A lifelong ag banker, Bruning was a fervent supporter of the Nebraska Bankers Association and ABA.
In 1997, ABA created the Bruning Award for excellence in agricultural banking, recognizing the lifetime achievement of individuals for their leadership and outstanding dedication to providing credit and financial guidance to farmers, ranchers and businesses in rural America. Bruning was the first recipient of the award, which is presented annually at ABA’s Conference for Agricultural Bankers. Frank’s son Fred in 2018 also received the award. They are the only father/son duo to have received the honor.
Bruning was a farmer and rancher in addition to his banking career and a member of the American Hereford Association. With his wife Mary, he founded Feedlot Fencing. Bruning had a passion for native grasses for use with livestock and in 2017, he received the first annual Lifetime Achievement NE Grazing Lands Coalition award.
Bruning truly represented an ideal in the industry, epitomizing what an agricultural banker could be to a local community. In a 1997 interview with Bank Beat, Bruning credited his success in banking to his father, “who stressed the importance of being a ‘country banker.’” He also gave credit to his many long-time employees for inspiration. It is safe to say that Bruning taught many in the industry those same lessons and he will be greatly missed by all who had the opportunity to know him.
ABA Agricultural and Rural Bankers Committee Chairman Heather Malcolm said: “Frank Bruning was an icon in the ag banking world. His leadership and mentorship spanned decades and influenced so many. Frank leaves a legacy of dedication, leadership and innovation in both community banking and the agricultural industry.”