West Community Credit Union, a $165-million institution based in O'Fallon, Mo., just outside St. Louis, announced that its president and CEO Gary Hinrichs will retire in early 2016, after 41 years of service.

Hinrichs has served as the credit union's president and CEO since 1974 when it was called Brentwood Mutual Credit Union, while he was still in college. He was one of only two employees at the time.

"When I started in 1974 we offered only savings and loans." Hinrichs said in a statement. "I will never forget our first milestone of reaching $1 million in assets."

A successor to Hinrichs will be named in fall of 2015, West Community said.

Under Hinrichs' leadership, the credit union has grown from $750,000 in assets and one branch to more than $160 million in assets and four branches. Hinrichs has also led the credit union through eight mergers, and witnessed a growth in membership from 1,100 to more than 19,000; while staff now comprises more than 70 employees.

"Gary has successfully guided our credit union during an era of tremendous challenge and growth. He has the board's confidence, respect, and admiration." said Michael Murphy, board of directors and vice chairman. "His leadership will be missed."

Also, as president and CEO, Hinrichs incorporated the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence as a way to "continuously improve the credit union's ability to serve members."

"The chance to make a difference in our members lives every day over the last 40 years, either by me personally or by the efforts of the staff, has been very rewarding," Hinrichs said in a statement. "I knew I wanted a career that would provide important, rewarding and challenging work, and my time with the credit union has provided that and so much more."

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