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The loss of a lion…

September 19, 2017
The Alliance and the fraternal community lost an iconic leader this week with the passing of Jim Stoker, the long-time CEO of GBU Financial in Pittsburgh. His innovative and courageous leadership resulted in the incredible growth of GBU into one of the nation’s largest fraternals.  He pioneered expansion strategies through both organic growth and acquisitions.  He was instrumental in acquiring several smaller fraternals of various ethnic origins and bringing them seamlessly into the GBU family.  By doing so he helped ensure the financial security of thousands of families, increased the funding for GBU’s community service projects and fraternal activities, and, in the process, earned an “A” rating from A.M. Best.  Ahem… On a personal note, Jim and I worked together for my first six years as CEO of the Alliance, while he served as a Board member and officer.  As Chair of the Finance Committee, Jim was committed to growing the Alliance’s surplus so that we had the fiscal firepower to fight any political battle facing the fraternal sector.  He is largely responsible for the Alliance’s excellent financial condition and for the conservative budgeting and investment practices that will serve the organization and its members for years to come. Jim could be opinionated and crusty, and was never shy about expressing his views on the Alliance and the future of the fraternal system with me on our regular Friday afternoon phone calls.  But it did not take much to get beyond the hard candy coating to the soft milk chocolate heart of gold.  Jim loved his family.  He loved GBU, its staff and its members.  He loved the financial services business and the fraternal business model.  And he loved the Alliance. And we loved him for all that he stood for, all the he contributed, and the lasting legacy he leaves for his society and the fraternal sector. Details on services and memorials follow.  Please keep Jim’s family close to your hearts as the mourn the loss of a lion. James R. Stoker 1947-2017 It is with great sorrow that GBU announces the death of GBU’s National Secretary-Treasurer, CEO James R. Stoker. Jim died on September 18th of a continuing illness. Jim’s 16-year term as CEO has strengthened GBU’s financial future forever. He will be remembered as an icon in GBU’s long 125-year history. Please keep Jim’s family and close friends in your thoughts and prayers. A funeral home visitation will be held at 2:00-8:00 p.m on Wednesday, September 20, at: John F. Slater Funeral Home, Inc. (two blocks from GBU) 4201 Brownsville Road - Pittsburgh, PA 15227 information@johnfslater.com (412) 881-4100 A church service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 21, at: Zion Lutheran Church (across the street from GBU) 4301 Brownsville Rd., Pittsburgh, PA 15236 (412) 881-5512 In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the GBU Foundation and sent to: GBU Financial Life, 4254 Saw Mill Run Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA 15227 Cards of condolence may be sent to: Mrs. Barbara Stoker and Family 9 East Club Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15236 (or the GBU Home Office and we will forward them to Mrs. Stoker and family.) Through his leadership at GBU, James R. Stoker “Made-a-Difference” in the lives of many. Matthew M. Blistan, Jr. National Vice President