History of BankCherokee

BankCherokee Timeline

100 Years of Community Banking

BankCherokee, the oldest family-owned bank in the metro area, has had an unwavering commitment to serving its customers and communities since 1908. Heidi Gesell marks the third generation of her family to run BankCherokee and serves as the bank’s president and CEO.


1908 Merriam Park Bank opens in St. Paul.
1920 Merriam Park Bank moves to west side of St. Paul and is renamed Cherokee State Bank. This location on Smith Ave. and George Ave. today remains the bank headquarters.
1924 Russell Gesell joins Cherokee State Bank; is named bank president in 1935.
1963 James Gesell, son of Russell Gesell, joins the bank and is named bank president in 1967.
1979 Cherokee State Bank opens on Randolph Avenue its second Twin Cities branch.
1985 Cherokee State Bank opens on Grand Avenue its third Twin Cities branch.
1989 Dennis Passeri is named bank president; James Gesell retains the CEO title and becomes chairman of the board of directors.
1989 Fire destroys the Smith Ave. headquarters, but its drive-up facility remains open.
1995 Cherokee State Bank opens in North Oaks its fifth Twin Cities branch.
1996 Heidi Gesell, daughter of James, becomes bank president; Dennis Passeri retires and takes the role of vice chairman of the board of directors.
1998 Andrew Gesell, son of James, becomes vice president and commercial loan officer.
1999 Heidi Gesell is named CEO.
2000 Cherokee launches online banking at www.bankcherokee.com, providing product information, e-mail access and internet banking.
2000 Cherokee State Bank reports a record $200 million in assets.
2001 Cherokee State Bank is recognized with the “Family Celebration” award by a collaboration of family service agencies for its commitment to healthy families and diversity.
2002 Cherokee State Bank introduces check imaging, an innovative digital technology designed to simplify balancing and record-keeping, improve organization, and save space and time.
2004 Cherokee State Bank officially changes its name to BankCherokee.
2006 BankCherokee launches a new Web site.
2008 BankCherokee celebrates 100 years.