On Dec. 8, the Oklahoma Bankers Hall of Fame inducted four new members.
This year’s class included four outstanding bankers who have been – and still are – pillars in the banking industry, their communities and the state of Oklahoma.
This group of bankers falls right in line with previous inductees with their storied history and contributions still being made today to our industry.
I had the opportunity to introduce each inductee at the ceremony on Dec. 8, and read their bios to the gathered crowd. I also wanted to take this space to share with you those bios of each of the inductees into the 2022 Oklahoma Bankers Hall of Fame.
Dr. Sinclair Armstrong Jr.
Dr. Sinclair W. Armstrong Jr. is chairman of the board of Armstrong Bank, headquartered in Muskogee with 30 locations across Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Banking is in Armstrong’s blood, as his family established Vian State Bank in 1909. In 1978, he started his own medical practice and joined the board of directors for Vian State Bank, which later became Armstrong Bank. In addition to his family’s commitment to helping others with financial needs, he has been a urologist for over 30 years.
Under Armstrong’s leadership, a single hometown bank has grown into today’s Armstrong Bank, with over $2.3 billion in assets. In the last two years, Armstrong Bank has added 10 locations and more than doubled in asset size.
He has also served the industry as a whole, being a part of the Oklahoma Bankers Association’s Government Relations Council since 2007 and serving on OBA special task forces.
Armstrong and his family members believe supporting the community is important, as stronger communities mean better lives for all. Whether in banking, in medicine, or otherwise, Armstrong takes pride in caring for others.
Armstrong is extremely proud of his two daughters – Aston (husband, Wes) and Sloan (husband, Scott), and he has two grandchildren, Smith and Neill.
Shirley Barber began her banking career in March 1956 in the bookkeeping department of Security State Bank in Cheyenne. Hired by president and CEO, L.L. “Red” Males, he promoted Barber to assistant cashier in 1966, vice president and director in 1970, vice chairwoman and vice president in 1977, and CEO in 1988. She was elected president and CEO of Security State Bank in 1990.
Barber was the first female to serve as director for the Oklahoma Bankers Association. Additionally, she served as chairwoman of the Women’s Division of the OBA, chairwoman of Western Plains Group of the National Association of Bank Women, as well as the OBA’s Agriculture Committee, Government Relations Committee and Farm Credit Task Force.
Barber retired from Security State Bank as president and CEO in December 2005 just a few months shy of 50 years with the bank and in the industry.
Barber and husband, Wayne, made their home on the farm they purchased in 1956. She continues to reside on the farm following Wayne’s passing in 2019. In their 66 years together, they were blessed by two children, 11 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.
Robert H. Croak
Robert H. Croak is chairman of the board of FNB Community Bank in Midwest City, a position he has held since 1995. He began his banking career at American State bank in 1954 as the second generation of his family to be involved in the industry.
Croak continued to work in various positions at the bank – later renamed First National Bank of Midwest City by Croak’s father, Henry, and eventually its current name of FNB Community Bank. He was elected to the bank’s board of directors in 1963, was named a vice president in 1971, an executive vice president in 1983 and president and chief administration officer of bank investments in 1986, vice chairman of the board in 1988 and president of the bank in 1995.
He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s in finance/commercial law in 1964. He has also received numerous certifications and awards from various financial-based schools and organizations, and was recognized by the Oklahoma Bankers Association as a member of its “50-Year Club” in May 2004.
His beloved wife Linda passed away in late October. In 59 years of marriage, the Croaks built a family together – three grown children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
John Massey began his banking career in 1967 with an initial investment into Durant Bank & Trust, which eventually became First United Bank & Trust. He was appointed chairman in 1974 and became the majority shareholder and CEO in 1987.
Prior to Massey’s career in banking, he served as an Oklahoma state representative for two terms and then as an Oklahoma state senator for two terms. Massey left the senate in 1970 to devote his full attention to business interests, which included establishing and owning over 20 businesses in Oklahoma and Texas.
Massey served as a regent of the Oklahoma State System for Higher Education from 1992-2019, a record 27 years of service that made him the first-ever three-term state regent. He was named state regent emeritus in 2019.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 1960. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 1984 and, in 2015, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southeastern Alumni Association, the only award of its kind ever presented.
Massey was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2002, the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame in 2004, the Oklahoma City Community College Hall of Fame in 2009, and received the Leadership Oklahoma Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.
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I hoped you enjoyed learning about these four bankers and why they were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
We are blessed in Oklahoma to have so many bankers across the state who are making a difference every day in both their communities and the state. Thank you to everyone who sponsored this event; it wouldn’t be possible without your support.
On behalf of the OBA and all of our staff, I wish you happiest of holidays. We are excited to see what 2023 brings us and look forward to working alongside you.