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Remembering Vic Thate, “Godfather” of CU4Kids

Vic Thate, a leader of the credit union movement and pioneer of Credit Unions for Kids, passed away on February 24th, 2022, at the age of 83.

Vic’s credit union career was a successful one. After some years in the banking industry, he switched to working for credit unions when he took the role of Executive Vice President at FAA Credit Union in Oklahoma City, OK.

Many would say his best success was his efforts at bringing the CU4Kids program to Oklahoma. At the time, only a few credit unions in Oklahoma were raising funds for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals. Vic had an immediate goal to change that.

“When I moved to Oklahoma in 1998, the local CMN office contacted me, saying word had come from Austin that they should get me involved in Oklahoma,” he says. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Credit Union League was in the early stages of forming a CMN/Credit Unions for Kids fund-raising committee. They wanted all the credit unions in the state to raise funds for the children’s hospitals in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

“I volunteered to be on that committee and chaired it for the first two years. Our goal was to meet monthly and to get every credit union involved in some way,” said Vic.

Volunteering for the committee is a bit of an understatement. Chandra Goodson, Dealer Relations Manager at Focus FCU, worked with Vic on the CU4Kids committee. She says, “He was instrumental in getting Oklahoma credit unions working together for Credit Unions for Kids. He was the driving force behind Credit Union night at the Blazers hockey games, and the Redhawks Baseball Park. He organized an annual golf tournament that raised thousands of dollars. He planned a yearly credit union baseball tournament and could often be seen grilling up hotdogs at the event. Vic became friendly with OKC Blazers Manager and Bob Funk and was able to get the Express Ranch Clydesdales to attend several Credit Union for kids events. Vic also arranged for Oklahoma City to be part of a National Radio-A-thon for CMN Hospitals.”

She added, “To get more credit union CEOs and staff involved in fundraising, Vic organized tours of the OU Children’s hospital complex.”

For his efforts, Vic was appropriately named a 2010 Hero of the Year by the Credit Union Magazine.

Jan Davis, AVP/Branch Manager at Tinker FCU says, “I saw him last at Dancing for a Miracle, so even in his retirement, he was still supporting sick children. There was no one more passionate about helping kids, he was so committed to our cause.”

Teresa Carter with Tinker Federal Credit Union says, “I have known Vic since the Oklahoma CU4Kids Committee began in 1997. His tireless efforts and determination to raise our awareness of CMN Hospitals seemed to be endless. His dynamic spirit has indeed touched us all. To those serving with him on the CU4Kids committee, he has been a cheerleader, coach, mentor, drill sergeant, educator, advisor, and all-around nice guy. Vic’s humble manner wouldn’t allow him to take credit for any of the incredible work he has done. We all know the difference he has made in our lives and in the lives of the children.”

Since 1997, Oklahoma credit unions have raised over $4 million for CMN Hospitals. In 2015, they raised $1 million for the Children’s Hospital floor recognition. Vic was responsible for credit unions in the Oklahoma City-area starting a $2 million pledge for the local hospital to fund an endowed chair program, which brings in an expert doctor to work on research and patient visits.

In notable Vic Thate fashion, he said “yes” when Children’s Hospital Foundation asked for his service on the CHF Executive Board. “Vic was a dedicated member of our Finance Committee and responsible for many of our current financial practices. He was serious about his commitment and about doing the right thing for kids – but most of all, he did it with love and compassion. He always made others feel the significance of their efforts,” said Kathy McCracken, CHF Executive Director. 

“Vic was affectionately known as the “Godfather” of the CU4Kids program in Oklahoma and there couldn’t be a more appropriate title. His passion for the cause was contagious and his commitment to the children served by CMN Hospitals in the state was inspiring. Our heartfelt condolences to his family and all his friends during this very difficult time,” says Joe Dearborn at CMN Hospitals.

Vic will be missed, but never forgotten in the credit union industry and at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals