A familiar face in Oak Park community banking is making a return. Walter Healy, former Community Bank president and CEO, has joined Chicago-based Hoyne Savings Bank to head up the bank’s first Oak Park branch. That branch just so happens to be in a former Community Bank location.

“It feels great. It’s a little surreal,” said Healy, now a Hoyne board member and executive vice president of commercial lending.

The return to 810 S. Oak Park Ave., which was Community Bank’s second Oak Park location, also serves as Healy’s return to community banking. Community Bank was purchased roughly four years ago by Byline Bank and a noncompete agreement compelled Healy to take a break from community banking.

“I wanted to comply to the letter of the law,” said Healy. “So, I sat on the sidelines, doing my planning and now here we are talking, about a month before I’m ready to open that office over there.”

The exact date of the branch’s opening has yet to be decided but is expected to happen in mid-April. Healy, a lifelong Oak Parker, is thrilled to return to the profession he loves in the community he calls home for a company that shares his values. 

“[Hoyne] has been around since 1887 and they’re committed to community banking, which is what attracted me to the organization,” said Healy. 

The company has also been very supportive of Healy’s desire to open a branch to serve people in the River Forest, Oak Park and Forest Park communities, which Healy said was a “critical” part in the work he wanted to do with Hoyne. 

Healy has worked in community banking his entire career. The ability to make a difference in people’s lives is why he continues to work in that field. That reasoning, he admits, “sounds trite.”

“When the decisions are made locally, really made locally, that’s an important level of commitment to the community,” he said.

Despite not being able to represent the Oak Park community through banking in recent years, Healy has maintained his support for many of the village’s institutions on a personal level. Healy and his wife Maureen, both alumni, have are longtime donors to Ascension School, a Catholic school at Van Buren and Clarence.. 

And, while Healy’s been working with Hoyne for about seven months now, the bank’s official announcement coincided with Ascension’s Blue Tie Gala. Healy and his wife sponsored the March 4 fundraising event.

“It worked out really nicely,” he said of the timing.

Healy was a founding shareholder of Community Bank, which he helped to establish in 1996 out of offices at 1001 Lake St. Community Bank grew to have three locations, including one in River Forest. 

Community Bank opened its last location, the one which will soon reopen under the Hoyne name, in 2017. It took the bank about eight or nine years, Healy recalled, to find a location in south Oak Park. Community Bank snatched up 810 S. Oak Park Ave. after it was vacated by another bank then built out the space using local carpentry and restoration firm Von Dreele Freerksen. 

“We spent a lot of time designing and building that branch,” Healy recalled.

Community Bank’s south Oak Park branch had a short life, however. The property was acquired in 2019 in Byline Bank’s purchase of Community Bank. Byline closed the branch down without explanation the following year.

Sometime next month, it will reopen as a Hoyne branch. Due to the “significant investment” Community Bank put into 810 S. Oak Park Ave., which Byline left intact, the space needs little work before Healy opens its doors to the public once again.

“We’re going to just put desks in there,” he said.

The vintage-inspired wooden bank teller booth with custom metal lattice and reclaimed glass transom windows that Freerksen created for Community Bank is staying put, but it won’t be the branch’s only recognizable aspect. Healy has brought back several former Community Bank employees to staff Oak Park’s Hoyne branch. 

On top of running the branch, Healy will be helping Hoyne to form and build out the bank’s commercial banking division. Hoyne has already done a “great job” of serving its residential mortgage customers, according to Healy, but the bank is looking to grow its commercial loan offerings and products. Healy will be leading those efforts. 

“Building off the rich tradition and longevity of Hoyne, his experience, leadership and community connections will transform our offerings to include commercial banking for our current and future clients,” said Hoyne President and CEO Steven F. Rosenbaum. “We look forward to our growth under Walter’s leadership.”

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