J. Dennis Smelser

Executive Vice President
Midwest Bancorporation Inc., Poplar Bluff

In 1969, Dennis Smelser began his banking career in the bookkeeping department of Security Bank in Paragould, Arkansas, while a student at Arkansas State University. After graduation, he served as manager of the customer service department and later as the bank’s internal auditor. In 1975, he joined the audit department at Citizens Bank in Jonesboro, Arkansas, which led to an opportunity with his current employer. In 1976, Dennis moved to Dexter, where he was employed as vice president and cashier of Dexter National Bank (later First Midwest Bank of Dexter). He transferred to the bank’s parent company, Midwest Bancshares Inc. (later Midwest Bancorporation Inc.) in 1981, where he has served in several capacities throughout the last 38 years and currently serves as executive vice president.

Dennis and wife, Janie, have two children. After living in Dexter for more than 40 years, he and Janie recently relocated to Jackson to be near their three grandchildren.

Dennis attributes his longevity in banking to …

Dennis wanted to live and raise his family in a small community and was fortunate to find the right banking organization in the right location early in his career. Banking offered Dennis an opportunity to be challenged and grow professionally while providing his family a good place to live.

Dennis’ favorite part of working in the banking industry for 50 years has been …

seeing the positive impact a community bank can have by helping customers achieve their financial goals.

Dennis’ philosophy about banking in general is …

as banking becomes increasingly more electronic (and therefore impersonal), there will always be a demand for great personal service. Don’t abandon it.

Dennis’ most heartwarming story about a bank customer …

Years ago, a couple with two children had car trouble traveling home from vacation. All their cash went to the mechanic who would not accept an out-of-state check or credit card. They drove to Dennis’ bank with hopes of a cash advance to use for food but learned this wasn’t allowed. However, Dennis called the couple’s bank, verified information and cashed their personal check for $300. Dennis knew he would be chastised if the check was bad, but he felt it was the right thing to do. Dennis also shared that one of the bank’s customers had the best smoked ribs in the country and made a reservation for the family. A few weeks later, Dennis received a letter from the couple thanking him for saving their vacation. He kept that letter and read it when he had a bad day.