Illinois Credit Union Hall of Fame
Merritt Hedden spent more than 25 years of his life in service to the credit union movement. He began his career as volunteer board member at Scott Credit Union in Belleville while serving as a "Top Gun" in the United States Air Force. Upon his retirement as a colonel in 1977, he became president/treasurer of Scott Credit Union. While at Scott, he graduated from CUNA Management School and completed the Certified Credit Union Executive Program. In 1980 and 1991 he was honored as the Illinois Council, Credit Union Executive Society, Executive of the Year.
In 1983 Merritt was hired by the struggling Earthmovers Credit Union of Joliet. The Caterpillar credit union was hit hard by the economic downturn experienced by its sponsor. The $32-million credit union lost more than half of its members, nearly 2/3 of its assets and had negative undivided earnings. The credit union was saved, in large part, by Merritt’s aggressive program of moving the credit union off-site, pursing select employee groups and expanding services. The credit union was eventually renamed Members Equity. In 1996 Members Equity merged with Dynamic Credit Union, creating the $82-million, 23,000-member NuMark Credit Union. Merritt retired from NuMark Credit Union in 1997 after serving as CEO for 14 years.
Merritt’s dedication to credit unions also took on state and national significance. He served a member of the Governor’s Credit Union Advisory Council in 1982. He was league director for the Will County Chapter from 1985 until his retirement from the board in 1999. He went through the chairs of the Illinois Credit Union League, serving as chairman from 1988 to 1990. During his tenure as chairman, he led the Illinois delegation in a rally on Capitol Hill to save credit unions’ tax exempt status. That rally was the culmination of Operation Grassroots.