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Honoring our Roots: David D. Spear

Mt. Hood

In 1950, a young GI named David Spear was discharged from military service and came home to Oregon City. David began working for the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office as a Patrol Deputy, but like many young people just starting out, David struggled to get the financial help and services he needed to manage his personal finances. He was determined to figure out a way to purchase a late-model car, but could not get the loan he needed from local banks. Frustrated, David Spear set about trying to form a credit union to serve employees of the sheriff’s office, as well as city, county, and other government employees in Clackamas County.

“I asked around where the credit union was [and] was informed there wasn’t any,” David recalled. “I knew that this must change, so I proceeded to seek the information needed to start one.”

Over the next few years, the young veteran assembled a number of like-minded friends and individuals, and together they launched ClackCo Federal Credit Union in 1957. Their story is not unique. For more than 100 years, people of modest means that have grown tired of exclusive or predatory banking practices have banded together to form financial cooperatives known as credit unions. Unlike banks, these cooperatives are not-for-profit and organized with the sole mission of improving their members’ financial condition.

David Spear
Embold Credit Union Founder and Volunteer, David D. Spear, 1986

Founding member David Spear went on to serve the credit union in various capacities, including being a member of Embold’s volunteer Board of Directors for many years. David stepped down from the Embold Board just shortly before his death in 2010. During his tenure, the Credit Union changed its charter to serve the whole community and renamed itself Clackamas Federal Credit Union.

Just this year, the Credit Union rebranded again to its current name, Embold Credit Union, after expanding its charter to serve anyone in Clackamas, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Yamhill and Washington counties.

Over its 65-year history, Embold has worked to honor the original mission it was formed to serve – being a force for good in the community and a trusted financial partner to its member-owners. Embold provides low-cost financial services, advice, and training to its members and supports numerous nonprofit organizations through volunteer hours, donations, and partnerships.

This year, we remembered and honored David Spear by christening our new Community Center meeting room the “David D. Spear Auditorium”. Located just a few miles down McLoughlin Boulevard from Embold’s original headquarters building, the Community Center and David D. Spear Auditorium are intended to provide low-cost meeting space for local nonprofits and other community partners.

During his last few years as a member of the Embold Credit Union Board of Directors, David documented his memories of the Credit Union’s origins on paper, and he concluded by stating, “I would like to say that I am proud and pleased with the success of the Credit Union and to thank all of its members for making it successful.”

We couldn’t agree more.