Ness to Retire as CEO of First Dakota National Bank

Appeared in Yankton Press & Dakotan on December 29, 2022
Written by P&D Staff Reports

The longtime CEO at Yankton’s First Dakota National Bank is retiring as of this Friday.

In a press release issued Wednesday, First Dakota announced that Larry Ness is retiring from his CEO position Friday. However, he will remain as chairman of the board.

Ness came to First Dakota in 1983 at a time when First Dakota was struggling amid the farming crisis and was expected to fail. However, the bank rebounded under his leadership and has seen nearly four decades of growth and success. In 1983, First Dakota had one location and $42 million in assets. It now has 17 locations in 12 South Dakota cities with $2.7 billion in assets.

Ness was born and raised in South Dakota. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from South Dakota State University in Brookings in 1969. While in college, he joined the South Dakota National Guard and retired as a major in the U.S. Army Reserves after completing 24 years. Ness was a national bank examiner, vice president and loan officer at Mitchell National Bank and executive vice president of First National Bank of Volga before coming to First Dakota.

“Ness has had a successful and fulfilling banking career of more than 50 years,” the press release said. “Along the way, he abundantly shared his time, talent, and resources in Yankton, the surrounding communities, and the state of South Dakota.”

He was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2012, and he and his wife, Diane, were named Yankton Citizens of the Year in 2016.

“Larry has had an incredible impact not only on First Dakota and its employees but on so many others in Yankton and the State of South Dakota,” said Rob Stephenson, bank president who will succeed Ness as CEO on Jan. 1. “He’s obviously been a great businessman and community member, but also a tremendous advocate for so many organizations and causes across the state.”

Ness was also a leader in the banking industry, serving in leadership positions with the South Dakota Bankers Association, American Bankers Association, and other banking organizations.

Ness will continue as chairman of the board, a position he has held since 1996. Other Board Members are Walter O. Carlson, Cathy Clark, Dan Eisenbraun, Denny Everson, Denis Fokken, Aaron Ness, Michael Ness, Rob Ness, David Olson and Rob Stephenson.

Stephenson joined First Dakota in 1996 after several years as a bank examiner with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Stephenson has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and completed the Graduate School of Banking in Boulder, Colorado.

“Rob is a great choice for CEO. He and the executive management team has already been leading First Dakota in so many ways,” Ness said in the press release.

Link to article in Yankton Press & Dakotan.