Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Executive Session: Banking on Experience, Mark Funke, Southwest Bancorp and Stillwater National Bank and Trust Co

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Executive Session: Banking on Experience, Mark Funke, Southwest Bancorp and Stillwater National Bank and Trust Co

Article excerpt

Mark Funke has already experienced the growth potential he sees within Southwest Bancorp and Stillwater National Bank and Trust Co.

He's been there before, because even though Funke spent 28 years at Bank of Oklahoma under its parent BOK Financial, that big bank wasn't always quite so big. The majority of his banking career was spent within BOKF - a younger Funke never imagined he would ever have reason to leave. So he's been part of growth.

And Funke is ready to lead it himself this time.

"I always wanted to do something on my own, to build something and take all of the things I've learned all these years in banking and turn them into something I could look back on and say, 'That's something I built with a team of my own,'" the chief executive and president of Stillwater-based Southwest Bancorp said. He took the position in October.

"This organization (at Southwest Bancorp) has a wonderful structure and really good people. And the opportunity to run a public company and not have to move from the area was just one of those opportunities that I couldn't pass up," he said.

Funke towns

Funke, 56, was born and raised in Wichita, Kan., an area that now reminds him of Oklahoma City, an entrepreneurial city with similar geography, demographics and culture. Southwest Bancorp has offices in Wichita now and it's been a good market for the company, he said.

Funke graduated in 1977 with a bachelor's degree in finance from Kansas State University, where he met his wife, Beverly Funke. They married shortly after leaving school and entering the business world, he to Republic Bank in Houston and she to clothing and paralegal work.

Funke stayed with Republic until 1984, when he moved to Bank of Oklahoma's regional banking department. Along the way he also attended the American Bankers Association's Stonier Graduate School of Banking and the University of Houston's graduate business school.

The couple had a son and daughter, too. Bill Funke, now 30 with a doctoral degree in music, teaches in Norman near the University of Oklahoma, where he graduated. Anne, 26, also graduated from OU, but she moved to New York to earn roles in Broadway shows such as Hairspray and Wicked. Mark and Beverly have been married for 35 years.

Funke credited his children with forcing him to develop into a more well-rounded person with their interests. And that, in turn, helped foster his involvement in community development programs.

"I kind of got dragged into the arts by my kids. I recognize how important the arts are in the overall development of the individual now, and as a banker I also see the importance of the quality of life for the community," he said. "That was 20 years ago, but I've stayed passionate about the arts as a business person."

Funke serves on the boards of the Allied Arts Foundation, Lyric Theater, OU Health Sciences Center Foundation, Leadership Oklahoma, Leadership Oklahoma City, St. Anthony Hospital Foundation and United Way of Central Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. He also sits on the board for the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City. As for the latter, Funke said he spent much of his time as a child at the local Y and considered it his second home.

He also had high praise for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and suggested it as a starting point for up-and-coming businesspeople.

Taking on new challenges

The growth of his diverse interests may have been bolstered as well by consistency of employment. Funke said that for a long time he was content with the challenges presented under the BOKF roof and his promotions fueled that vitality. He was first responsible for the eastern division of the company's regional banking department, and then became senior vice president in the Tulsa office. In 1986, he moved to Oklahoma City to manage commercial banking after the purchase of Fidelity Bank. He was promoted to executive vice president in 1991 and in 1994 became chief operating officer in Oklahoma City. …

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