Evansville banker inspired family to live conservatively, contribute to community

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Ashley McCallum
Tuesday, October 31, 2017

EVANSVILLE -- Watching his uncle Leonard “Prent” Eager serve others at the local and state level gave Stephen Eager the confidence to expand his career, he said.

Stephen described his uncle as a “local banker.” Leonard served on the board of directors of Union Bank and Trust from 1948 until his death Sunday. He was president of the bank from 1988 to 1997.

Leonard died Sunday in Evansville at the age of 96. He was born in Oak Park, Illinois, but spent his younger years in Evansville.

The local banker served as the elected treasurer for Wisconsin Public Television, which inspired Stephen to do more, Stephen said.

Stephen is president and CEO of Union Bank and Trust. He also is a federal delegate for the Independent Community Bankers of America largely because his uncle showed him it was possible to reach beyond their hometown, Stephen said.

Leonard and Stephen's father, Alan, were mentors to Stephen and his brother Christopher throughout their careers, Stephen said. He went to his uncle for banking advice “until the very end.”

The four men all held served as president of Union Bank and Trust during their careers, Stephen said.

Leonard and Alan made the “conscious decisions” to build their families in Evansville, Stephen said. A pony field was all that separated the homes of Leonard, Allen and their father, Leonard Eager Sr., when they were growing up.

The families were close, Stephen said. Alan's wife, Diana, and Leonard's first wife, Sally, were college roommates and best friends.

The only issue that separated the Eager men was Leonard's love for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears, Stephen said. Leonard was very excited to see the Cubs win the World Series before he died.

Leonard Sr. encouraged Leonard to experience life elsewhere before settling in Evansville, Stephen said. He wanted the experience to be a “positive conscious one.”

After graduating from Evansville High School in 1939, Leonard attended Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, according to his obituary. He transferred to UW-Madison after his freshman year.

Leonard served more than two years in the military before graduating college and moving to Chicago, where he worked as a salesman and an examiner for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, according to his obituary. He returned to Evansville in 1948.

Stephen believes his uncle stayed in Evansville because he loved the small town feel with the opportunities to enjoy city life with quick trips to Madison, Milwaukee and Chicago.

Leonard lived a “conservative” lifestyle, Stephen said. That's one of the most important things he learned from his uncle.

“He was a fastidious saver and investor. He lived comfortably, a conservative lifestyle. He was not flamboyant,” Stephen said.

Leonard was an active member of the Evansville United Methodist Church and the Lions Club, according to his obituary.

The Eager family understands the importance of engaging with their community and contributing to its growth as bankers, Stephen said.

“You're able to have a bigger impact in a smaller community than you may in a large city,” Stephen said.

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