Peter E. Stone to receive Ripon College’s Founders’ Day Award

Peter E. Stone of Fond du Lac, chairman of the board of National Exchange Bank and Trust (NEBAT) as well as the private Stone Family Foundation, will receive Ripon College’s 2023 Founders’ Day Award at the College’s Commencement ceremony Sunday, May 14. The award is presented annually to an individual or organization in Ripon and surrounding communities who exemplifies the ideals behind the creation of Ripon College. The College was officially founded Jan. 29, 1851.

Stone is being honored for serving the banking needs of the College through NEBAT as well as giving philanthropic support through his family’s foundation.

“Peter was one of the first members of the community that I met after arriving in Ripon,” said President Victoria N. Folse. “His family foundation’s philanthropic support is driven by his commitment to pay it forward and to assure access to higher education. His trust in our future allows NEBAT and Ripon College to strengthen our business partnership and serve the region together.”

Originally from Green Bay, Stone says he has always been interested in banking. “You can see the moves that make a company successful and grow, and banks have always offered support for that,” he says. “Without the banking industry, we wouldn’t have the growth that we have today. And for years, it’s always been a very stable business. There’s always been a need for it. I also have enjoyed the satisfaction of being with a company that helps other companies.”

He graduated with degrees in business and finance from Northwestern University. He was working for a bank in Eau Claire when he heard about shareholders who were selling a 14% share of the stock of a bank in Fond du Lac.

“I’d always wanted to get into a business that I had an ownership in,” Stone says. Since he started with NEBAT in 1965, the business has grown from a small bank with only 25 employees and a lending limit of $200,000 to having 32 locations throughout southeastern Wisconsin and a lending limit of $75 million.

Stone’s son, Eric, has taken over from Stone as president, and his son, Adam, heads the trust department. Several Ripon alumni also have worked for NEBAT.

Stone established two charitable foundations to give back to the community, one through the bank and the private Stone Family Foundation. Stone is chairman of the foundation; and his wife, Barbara, and two sons are all directors.

He says the bulk of their donations go toward education, helping high schools and several schools of higher education in their business area. “The cost of education is high,” he says. “It’s an obligation that we’ve felt strongly about.”

He is a strong benefactor of Ripon College and feels its support base is notable. When meeting with the Board of Trustees to discuss the College’s lending needs, he says he was struck by how many of them came in person from long distances to attend a regular meeting. He also cites the substantial financial gifts the College receives from a small, but impassioned, alumni base. “I thought that said a lot about the school,” he says.

“There are a lot of challenges for private education. Ripon is well-suited to meet those challenges. If the alumni keep supporting the school like they have in the past, that will help sustain them.”

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