The Oklahoma Bankers Hall of Fame inducted its first-ever class on Dec. 4 at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City. Shawnee banker Larry Briggs, Altus banker Ken Fergeson and Oklahoma City banker Gene Rainbolt made up the inaugural group.
The ceremony was hosted by the Oklahoma Bankers Association’s immediate past chairman, Guy Sims, who is also president/CEO/chairman of Shamrock Bank in Coalgate. Also, during the event, Frank Keating, former Oklahoma governor as well as former president and CEO of the American Bankers Association, talked about the importance of Oklahoma bankers and the banking industry to the state.
OBA President and CEO Roger Beverage introduced each inductee.
Larry Briggs has been president and CEO of the First National Bank & Trust Co., in Shawnee since 1994.
Briggs was born in Cheyenne and graduated from Cheyenne High School. He attended Central State University (now University of Central Oklahoma) in Edmond and Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. He also served in the Oklahoma Army National Guard and Reserves as a battery commander and artillery captain.
In 1968, Dwight Rymer, who owned Citizens State Bank in Morrison, encouraged Briggs to get into the banking industry, which he did with Rymer in Morrison. He held almost every position at one time or another at Citizens State Bank and also worked two years at Stillwater National Bank. Rymer eventually purchased a bank in Holdenville and offered Briggs, then just 29 years old, the opportunity to be president.
In 1994, Briggs became president and CEO of First Oklahoma Bank, N.A., in Shawnee, which eventually became First National Bank & Trust Co., a position he still holds today. He has also served on the board of the Oklahoma Bankers Association as both a member and chairman and is currently the chairman of the OBA’s PAC Committee.
Ken Fergeson has been chairman of NBC Oklahoma, in Altus, since purchasing the bank in 1985.
Fergeson was born in Crowell, Texas, and graduated from Crowell High School. He attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, where he graduated with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
In 1971, he took a position with Liberty National Bank in Oklahoma City. Eight years later, he joined First National Bank of Enid as executive vice president. In 1985, he purchased the majority of the National Bank of Commerce in Altus (now NBC Oklahoma) and moved his family there within the next year. Under his leadership, the bank has three locations in Altus, as well as branches in Oklahoma City, Enid, Kingfisher and Tulsa.
Fergeson has served as chairman of both the American Bankers Association as well as the Oklahoma Bankers Association and has also helped create the NBC Oklahoma Artists Series, where an Oklahoma artist is commissioned to do a painting from which numbered prints and posters are distributed by each bank location to its customers. He was also inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2009.
Gene Rainbolt has been chairman emeritus of the BancFirst Corp., in Oklahoma City, since 2016.
Rainbolt was born in Norman and attended the University of Oklahoma in Norman, where he graduated with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He also served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
In 1967, Rainbolt took over as president at Federal National Bank in Shawnee. He held the position for seven years before becoming chairman. In 1985, he became chairman of United Community Corp. He remained there until 1989 when he founded BancFirst in Oklahoma City and took over as chairman. He held this position until he transitioned to chairman emeritus.
Rainbolt established a scholarship with the University of Oklahoma in memory of his late wife, the Jeannine Rainbolt Scholarship for Elementary School Teachers. He was also inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1999.
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The Oklahoma Bankers Hall of Fame was created by the Oklahoma Bankers Association in 2018. Nominees for the inaugural class were selected by a banker roundtable based on contributions to the Oklahoma banking industry, and the final honorees were voted upon by selected bankers statewide. For more information, contact the Oklahoma Bankers Association at (405) 424-5252.