Jaehning, Richard G.
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Richard (Dick) Jaehning passed away in Seattle on December 13, 2013. He was born at home in Morton, Minnesota on December 7, 1925, to Grover C. and Louise E. Jaehning. He was a Naval Air Core cadet and a Merchant Marine Core cadet, sailing around the world on supply ships during the Second World War. After the war he attended St. Cloud Teachers College and the University of Minnesota, receiving his BA in Business Administration in 1948. Also in 1948 he married Lois E. (Elly) Striegl of Pine City, MN and they moved to Yakima, WA, where he started his career with Seattle First National Bank (Seafirst) as a collections agent. He moved steadily up the ranks at Seafirst crisscrossing the state of Washington from positions in Yakima, Pasco, Bellevue, Head Office in Seattle, and Spokane. In 1966 he moved back to Seattle to start Seafirst's credit card operations, one of the earliest in the country. His expertise in credit card operations led to him becoming one of the founders of MasterCard started by the Interbank Association. Interbank, formed by eight banks including Seafirst, Valley Bank, Pittsburgh National, and Wells Fargo, was created to form a nationwide credit card. The idea was to create a credit card that would compete with American Express at more reasonable rates and be available to a broader range of consumers. He was the Association's first Vice Chairman and became Chairman in 1972. He was responsible for acquiring the now instantly recognizable symbol for MasterCard-the interlocking gold and orange circles. The Interbank Association had no full time employees in those early days, and the member banks paid expenses. A memory of these years of traveling in the USA and around the world to negotiate with additional banks to form MasterCard includes sharing a room at the St. Louis YMCA for $12 a night! In 1972 he was promoted to Executive Vice President overseeing credit card and the consumer-banking operations at Seafirst. 1981 he became President of Seafirst Bank overseeing 6,000 employees across the state of Washington. After retiring from Seafirst he did several three-month tours with the nonprofit volunteer group International Executive Service Core (IESC), helping banks in developing countries create and manage credit card and installment credit as well as general banking operations. He and Lois lived and worked in Russia, Kazakhstan, Indonesia and Brazil during this period. In retirement he and Lois lived in on the Big Island of Hawaii and more recently in Mesa, Arizona. He returned to a family home on Island Lake in northern Minnesota every year, until recently spending 3 to 4 months there each summer. Two years ago he and Lois returned to Seattle to be near family. They have been residents of the Ida Culver Broadview retirement community since 2011. He is survived by his wife of 65 years Lois (Elly) Jaehning; his sister Ruth Nurmi of Federal Way, WA; four children-Judith of Boulder, CO, Kurt of Oak Harbor, WA, Carrie of San Antonio, TX and Heidi of Seattle, WA; 6 grandchildren-Leslie, Christine, Katie, Enid, Duncan and Meijiao; and 3 great grandchildren. Donations in memory of Richard G. Jaehning can be sent to the Mesa Arizona Senior Center, 7550 East Adobe Mesa, AZ 85207 where he served on the Board for many years.
Published in The Arizona Republic on Dec. 19, 2013