Wednesday, February 14, 2001
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Posted on: Wednesday, February 14, 2001

Donald Imig, trusted savings and loan executive, dead at 68

By Rod Ohira
Advertiser Staff Writer

Donald E. Imig, a former savings and loan executive in Hawaii, is remembered as a banker people could trust.

Donald E. Imig was known for "helping people get homes."
"He prided himself in helping people get homes," Joanne Imig said of her ex-husband, who died Feb. 4 at his home in Leesburg, Fla., at age 68. "He often counseled people on getting homes they could afford so they wouldn’t get in over their heads. He cared about people that way."

Donald Imig, a Nebraska native and Korean War veteran, worked for savings and loans in Colorado and Nebraska for nine years before realizing his goal of living in Hawaii in January 1962.

"He came through Hawaii on his way back from the Korean War and was so happy to be someplace that had no snow on windows," said Joanne Imig, a former reporter who worked for both Honolulu daily newspapers and is now living in Virginia. "He loved Hawaii and was determined to come back."

In July 1967, Donald Imig left Home Savings & Loan Association, where he was treasurer and controller, for a similar post at Pioneer Savings & Loan Association. Home Savings had merged into Hawaiian Federal and Pioneer’s assets were at $30 million at the time of Imig’s hiring.

Ten years later, Imig was promoted to executive vice president and in 1977, at age 45, he was elected president of Pioneer Federal Savings & Loan, succeeding Charles K. Fletcher. By then, Pioneer’s assets had grown to $230 million.

Imig succeeded Fletcher as chief executive officer of Hawaii’s fifth-largest savings and loan at the time in December 1978.

During Imig’s tenure as Pioneer’s CEO and president, the savings and loan was involved in many community activities. In 1979, Pioneer turned over the deed of ownership of the historic James D. Dole house in Wahiawa to Waipahu Cultural Garden Park. Also that year, the savings and loan honored Hawaiian scholar and composer Mary Kawena Pukui with its first Hawaii Pioneer Award.

Pioneer was also the first bank in Hawaii to use exploding dye packs to discourage robberies.

Imig, who already had been replaced as chief executive officer, resigned as Pioneer’s president in March 1984.

"The savings and loan business has changed a great deal and personally I don’t think it’s as much fun as it used to be," Imig said in an Advertiser story on his resignation. The quote was referring to federal deregulation, which was clouding the distinction between savings and loans and other banks, making business more complex.

Lily K. Yao, vice chair of community relations/government affairs for First Hawaiian Bank, was an executive vice president and corporate secretary at Pioneer when Imig resigned. She was named acting managing officer, in effect Imig’s interim successor.

"He hired me at Pioneer," Yao said. "He was a dear friend who was a great leader and boss."

Imig resurfaced three months after his announced resignation as head of Hawaii operations for State Savings and Loan Association. He lost his job a year later when State Savings was taken over by 1st Nationwide Savings.

Imig and his family moved to San Diego in 1985. Joanne Imig bought a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store while her husband worked in real estate and as a savings and loan consultant.

"And he golfed," Joanne Imig said. "Golf remained a passion for him until his death."

Peggy Imig, Donald’s third wife whom he met in Florida, said her husband had been ill the past year.

"We played a lot of golf, traveled and he enjoyed cooking," Peggy Imig said. "We had a wonderful six years together."

Funeral services were held in Leesburg and Imig is buried at Florida National Cemetery.

Other survivors are sons Bruce of Glenwood Springs, Colo., and Paul of Lakeland, Fla.; daughters Vicki Beaudet of Chandler, Ariz., Gretchen Bergstrom and Maile Imig, both of Los Angeles; sisters Mary A. Root of Lincoln, Neb., and Barbara J. Henke of Leesburg; eight grandchildren and five step-grandchildren.

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