Credit union manager finds good f it in Thompson Falls


April 11, 2019

Courtesy Photo

NEW TO SANDERS COUNTY - Tim Ellis is Whitefish Credit Union's new branch manager.

After moving around similar to what Tim Ellis calls a glorified "gypsy lifestyle," he feels he has finally found a home here in Sanders County. In fact, he can be quoted as saying, "If I can help it, I'm done. No more moving."

Last fall, Ellis relocated to the area to serve as branch manager of Thompson Falls' Whitefish Credit Union. He brings with him many years of banking experience that moved him across the northern American states.

Originally from the Portland, Oregon, area, it was here where Ellis grew up on a family dairy farm. He recalled sharing the responsibilites of two farms with 500 head of dairy cows with three other families.

"Nobody stuck around," he referenced, stating that when all the children turned 18 years old, they left the farm. "The family farm idea doesn't carry weight of staying in the family like it does here in Montana," Ellis said. He commented that Montanans place much pride in the continuance of multigenerational farms unlike Oregonians.

Sanders County Ledger canvas prints

During his farming years, he did develop what he describes as a passion for agriculture. "This is why I went to Shelby, Montana" and worked for Wells Fargo. As bank president, Ellis stated that the bank "did 95% agriculture in loans." He felt right in place amongst the "wheat and wind and hats and boots."

"I really liked it up there," Ellis foundly reflected on his time in Shelby. Strange enough, he had spent time with his best friend, Mike Fahrer, in Shelby years ago when they took a motorcycle trip on Highway 2 after visiting Sturgis.

"It was a hot Saturday summer night," when Ellis was in Shelby. "Kids were draggin down the street and I thought it would be so cool to live here," Ellis said sharing his former thoughts. "I never thought about it again, that was until years later when I saw a job pop up there." From 2005 to 2009 Shelby became Ellis' home before moving back to Oregon.

Prior to moving to Montana, Ellis gained various banking experiences in Oregon and Minnesota when he and his former wife spent about 15 years moving from location to location accepting company promotions. Although he admits that perhaps too much focus was placed on their careers, he did say, "I am glad I took the time to learn and do everything I did."

He is thankful for the time he spent with Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank, gaining knowledge working at multiple branch locations. It was during this time Ellis gained experience with banking services, commerical and small business development, real estate and agricultural financing, learning how to handle different personalities and developing strong people skills.

If you would have asked him back in the 1990's, he would have never dreamed he would become a banker. In fact, Ellis would have told you he wanted to work in law enforcement for the rest of his life.

"I was a sophomore in high school and found out that you could get a scanner and hear everything the police were doing," Ellis said with wide eyes and an expression of amazement.

Using money he earned from farming, he purchased a police scanner. He then went to the Portland precinct to inquire about taking part in a ride along with an officer. According to Ellis, an old guy working at the station, who was a bit on the gruff side, denied him permission for a ride along.

Not to be discouraged, Ellis "started watching where police were parking at lunch." He located one officer and approached him about riding along on his route...he also said no. "But," Ellis said that on that day, "I was wearing my John Deere hat." This hat changed Ellis' entire life.

Officer Fahrer, the officer Ellis approached at lunch, was the owner of a 20-acre hay farm and started chatting with Ellis about his hat and farming. When Ellis shared he had a dairy farm, the two connected and started their friendship, which eventually lead Ellis to Shelby, Montana, on that motorcylce trip years later.

Fahrer was a major component in nourishing Ellis' interest in law enforcement. Ellis had joined the precinct and volunteered to gain exposure and develop connections with coworkers. He eventually landed a position in Portland's downtown Central Precinct. He was promoted to lieutenant, skipping sergeant, and contiued to be dedicated to his work.

"I didn't like the administrative stuff, so I tried to be out on the roads 90% of the time," Ellis said. He added that there were days he would work 12 hours because he "just couldn't get enough." This continued from 1994 to 1998 when Ellis was part of a shooting. Himself and fellow officers had shot and killed someone who had pulled a gun on them. "There was nothing we could have done," Ellis said with acceptance and remorse. "This put a damper on it for me," Ellis commented as being the end to his law enforecement career.

Now, Ellis is ready to remain in Sanders County and learn the skill of fly fishing, camp, hunt and experience outdoor living with his newly adopted friend Maple, a German Shepherd. He has joined the Sanders County Fair Board and is looking forward to doing his part to help the commuinty thrive.

Ellis said that working for Whitefish Credit Union has been great and he is enjoying the employees and customers thoroughly. He also commented on his positon with the Sanders County Fair Board. "I just want to give the people of Sanders County four days of a good product."

As for retired Officer Fahrer, he and Ellis continue to be the best of friends.


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