A constant in a sea of change: Bank teller Mary Litke

  • Article by: ANNA PRATT , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 26, 2013 - 4:50 PM

Customer favorite Mary Litke recently marked 50 years at U.S. Bank in Anoka.

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Mary Litke was touched by her surprise party on Mary Litke Day. “It affirms for me that … people appreciate what I do,” she said.

Photo: Sue Austreng • ABC Newspapers,

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At the U.S. Bank branch in downtown Anoka, customers often ask for Mary Litke, a longtime teller. They will linger in line, waiting for her station to open up, says Alex Segovia, the branch manager. Even if another teller is available, they’ll say, “I’m here to see Mary,” he said.

Some people have even been known to take extra laps around the parking lot, just to greet her in the drive-through.

Many staffers describe Litke, 71, as the “face of Anoka,” Segovia said.

This year is her 50th at the bank, and earlier this month it hosted a surprise party for her, on the same day that Mayor Phil Rice declared Mary Litke Day in Anoka.

Litke, who lives in the city, said she was touched by the events and saved the proclamation of “her day.” “It affirms for me that I’m doing the right thing with my career, and that people appreciate what I do,” she said.

Litke started working for the bank in 1963, when it was the State Bank of Anoka. She’s been there as it became Northern Bank, then First Bank and, in 2001, a U.S. Bank branch.

Although Litke said she took to the job right away, she never imagined that she’d still be with the bank so many years later. Today, she’s the branch’s longest-running employee and “probably the oldest one, too,” she said.

She’s witnessed all kinds of changes through the years.

In the early days, she posted checks to “ledger sheets” by hand. Talking about an Addressograph, a machine that was used for stamping individual records, she said, “nowadays, people wouldn’t have a clue as to what it is.”

In 1973, the whole operation moved to computers. Today, transactions get posted instantly. ATMs do a lot of work that human tellers once did, too. “It’s like everything in the world. Everything is faster,” she said.

Litke remembers helping people balance their checkbooks, something she did for years. “I love to look at anyone’s checkbook and get it into perfect balance,” she said, adding that she finds satisfaction in getting the math to work out.

She still enjoys coming to work every day. The bank has an old-timey quality, between the familiar faces, refreshments and special events. For example, the staff dresses up for Halloween. “I don’t have any intentions to retire just yet. I enjoy being with the people,” she said.

Many of her customers are regulars who have been coming to her for years. Now, their children and their children’s children visit her at the bank. She’s been there for their marriages, births, deaths and other major life events. Likewise, several generations of co-workers have grown up alongside her. She’s still best friends with a few people she met at the bank early on, she said.

That’s why she’s stayed put at the bank. Whether it’s a co-worker or a customer, “to me, they’re like family,” she said.

A mother figure

Segovia, the branch manager, said Litke is a mother figure to everyone who works at the bank. Whether it’s about the bank or a personal matter, “everybody feels comfortable approaching her about issues they’re having,” he said. “She’ll say, ‘Here’s what I would do or wouldn’t do.’ She shares the experiences she’s had in her life.”

Litke is focused on others. She shows that “the more you give, the more you receive. She holds everyone accountable for that,” he said, adding that she’s active with the city’s Halloween Committee and other volunteer efforts.

Michael Ferraro, a district manager for U.S. Bank, met Litke 20 years ago. He said she’s an example of someone who found the right spot and “thrives in that spot and continues to grow and affects others.”

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