Who really said “keep purpose constant”?

Keep purpose constant. It’s an old phrase we’ve been using at the Foundation for a few years now, since it illustrates so much of our work around helping our movement leverage the credit union difference. The phrase is now in the credit union lexicon alongside others such as “people helping people” and “people, not profit”. But where did it come from?

Again, it’s of interest to us, since we’ve been attributing it to Edward Filene, the father of the U.S. credit union movement. However, some say it was Roy Bergengren, another credit union pioneer, while others don’t know and have asked us who really said it? And are we really sure it was Filene?

It’s time to set the record straight. After doing some research thanks to a tip from modern-day credit union pioneer Larry Blanchard, I can now say it was technically Robert (Bob) Kloss, former managing director of the Ohio Credit Union League.

Bob Kloss coined the phrase in a poem he wrote called “In the Quiet Night“, which was written in 1950 to mark the dedication of Filene House in Madison, then the headquarters of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and CUNA Mutual Group at 1617 Sherman Avenue.

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