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Inside INB

Betty Bonilla

Very soon, Betty Bonilla will walk into a meeting at INB, where she works in the construction loan department, to let staff know she’ll be retiring.

Her colleagues will have time to process her departure. She’s targeting her last day for sometime in 2030. She just wants to give people a heads up. Staff say that’s the sort of thing they’ve come to expect from Betty in her 26 years with the bank. And though it’s a long way off, her departure will mark the end of an era. Betty Bonilla has been with Inland Northwest Bank since the very beginning.

On January 10, 1989, Betty gave birth to a baby boy. Four days later, she lost her job at Bank of Spokane, which had recently been bought by First Interstate. That time in her life was incredibly stressful. “It was the middle of winter. I had a baby.”

It wasn’t great for local businessmen either, who had seen community bank after community bank absorbed into larger, non-local institutions. When a group of them decided to create a new bank dedicated to our region, managers asked Betty to come along. She helped type up the stock certificates in March, so INB could earn capital and open their doors in October.

Like any startup, Betty remembers being very busy and wearing lots of hats. “I pretty much did everything you can do at a bank,” she says, “Loan processor. Data processing. Wrote stock certificates. I played teller occasionally.”

INB’s first computer, a Tandy, sat at the desk of the bank’s Chief Financial Officer. Having a computer felt impressive, Betty says, except, “The CFO’s office was in a closet. It was exciting to see an organization begin like that, from the ground up,” she remembers.

Since then, she has worked in proof data processing, in administration and mortgage. These days, she works in the construction loan department. Whether you’re a contractor financing a housing development or a family getting a loan to build their first home, once the loan is signed, Betty is your point of contact.

She relishes the job. Borrowing money is a leap of faith for people, Betty says, “ and human connection is important,” she says.

When retirement finally comes, Betty will still focus on human connection, making a snowbird’s pilgrimage to spend winters with her husband’s grand-kids, then returning to North Idaho, where they’ll spend summers with her daughter and son-in-law. The pair are currently deployed in Korea, and Betty hopes to go see them sometime this year. The only sticking point: She doesn’t like flying, she says, much less flying across the Pacific Ocean, “They better give me some Valium!”

She vows those snowbird migrations won’t involve air travel. It’ll be all over land, she says, “Pulling the travel trailer.”