Valley Savings celebrates 90 years by unveiling community timeline

By Paula Schleis
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don L. Robart looks at a timeline exhibit highlighting the 201-year history of Cuyahoga Falls and 90 year history of Valley Savings Bank at the bank on Portage Trail on Thursday, in Cuyahoga Falls. (Mike Cardew/Akron Beacon Journal)

CUYAHOGA FALLS: Valley Savings Bank celebrated its 90th year as a local icon by unveiling a historical timeline exhibit that spotlights people, places and events in its host city’s 201-year history.

Bank President Ann Durr said she hopes teachers will arrange field trips for their students to enjoy the graphic at the Portage Trail bank. It runs the length of a long corridor and features dozens of historical photos and a flat-screen TV cycling through images and newspaper clippings.

“We think it makes history more engaging for kids,” Durr said during a Thursday night ribbon-cutting for the feature. She passed out a paper trivia game for which the answers could be discovered among the wall’s 100-plus entries.

Durr and her brothers, bank board Chairman David Hunter and board member Jim Hunter, greeted a few dozen attendees who were among the first to see the exhibit.

Rich Loney, owner of Bark at the Moon Graphics Studio, researched and designed the graphic that was months in the making.

The timeline hits diverse points, like the 1967 opening of Chapel Hill Mall (marked by a photo of Archie the Snowman), the 1939 opening of the first Lawson’s store on Broad Boulevard, and the 1940 crash of the Doodlebug commuter train that killed 43 people.

Other photos represent the 1978 move to turn Front Street into a pedestrian mall, the 1972 opening of state Route 8 between Front and Graham Road, the 1954 opening of Cuyahoga Falls Hospital and the 1985 merger of the city with Northampton Township.

There are “Interesting Facts” spotlighted along the wall as well, like Michael Stanley Band setting Blossom Music Center’s attendance record with 74,404 people in 1982 and that fact Cuyahoga Falls once was considered the fastest growing city in America.

“If you’re like me, this timeline will make you realize how dramatically things have changed since 1834, when Cuyahoga Falls was home to just 374 residents. Today the city’s population has grown to more than 50,000,” Durr noted.

There are several references to milestones in the life of the Motz/Hunter families.

Clarence E. Motz, grandfather to Durr and her brothers, was involved in the early leadership of the bank and purchased it from the founder in 1928.

Durr used her own family to chart the growth of the community bank. When her father, John B. Hunter, became chairman of the board in 1963, the bank’s assets were $6.5 million. She oversees assets totalling $118 million.

Valley Savings is a story of endurance, having been founded just six years before the start of the Great Depression. Part of its recipe for success is the commitment of the family and employees.

“We have no plans to merge, sell or quit, so we come in every day and work hard to succeed and meet the needs of the people of this community,” Durr said.

Prudent banking practices is another ingredient, she said.

“When the economic crisis hit hard several years ago, we maintained our judicious standards and managed to record our best year ever,” she said.

Durr also added that throughout their relationship with the bank, community involvement has been a hallmark of her family.

“My father and mother wore many hats, but their ‘community service’ hats were their most treasured,” she said.

Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or Follow her on Twitter at Correspondent Gina Mace contributed to this report.

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