History and Founders

From the Beginning...

The idea was born one night over dinner at Stieglers, when Conrad Schwiering (known as Connie), John Turner and Bob Biolchini conceptualized a financial institution that could respond to the folks of Jackson with speed and with creative individualized service. It was 1982, and dreams were as big as your imagination.

In no time the dream became a reality, a tiny startup bank housed in a trailer on Broadway was bought, and the Bank of Jackson Hole came into existence with 3 million in assets, and a whole Valley to serve. The neophyte institution was dubbed “the bank in the box” that townspeople joked would probably be towed away some dark night, vault and all! The three men, along with John Turner’s mother Louise Bertschy, became the first stockholders; and Connie Schwiering took the reins as the bank’s first Chairman of the Board.

The bank’s first real structure, built on its original site, was designed by the three founders, influenced by each one’s particular appreciation of the region. Connie sketched the Tetons as the bank trademark and logo and designed the distinctive sign of redwood and steel and the etched windows to match. Bob who worked during summers as the Bell Captain at Old Faithful wanted burl logs like Old Faithful Inn, and Morgan silver dollars in the lighting fixtures which was for many decades the currency of the Rocky Mountain West. And John insisted that massive logs inside and out would portray the signature and the strength of the bank. John literally drew over the architect’s drawings in a meeting with his log concept of the first bank building, establishing the blueprint for all Bank of Jackson Hole log branches.

Connie’s first painting to hang in the new bank was named “The Difference”, a moving portrayal of a cowboy riding home on a winter morning after a brutal snowstorm, a mother cow following wearily in the footsteps of his horse, and in his arms he carries a newborn calf barely four hours old. The unique western strength and dedication of this cowboy set the mood and direction for the bank; and the slogan of “You can bank on the Difference” brought a new emphasis on our connectedness with each other and with nature around us. “The Difference” hangs in the lobby behind the tellers’ cage at the Main Branch on Broadway, the site, since 1988, of yesterday’s trailer.

Robert F. Biolchini, Founder

Bob Biolchini’s love of Jackson Hole and Yellowstone began during his college years when he worked as Bell Captain at Old Faithful Inn. His passion for the area grew each year as he hiked the major trails in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. On duty in 1959, he experienced the most notable earthquake in Yellowstone’s recent history. With a magnitude of 7.5, the fireplace of the Inn collapsed and he assisted in the evacuation.

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and George Washington University Law School, he and his wife Fran were stationed in Germany for two years, where Bob was a Captain and Executive Officer of an armor battalion. In 1971, he brought his young family to Jackson Hole for their first real vacation at the Triangle X Ranch, where, for the next 15 summers the couple “went to camp with their kids!” The same year, he bought land in Kelly, built a home where the couple raised their children, and where he and Fran currently reside.

Currently, Bob is partner of the law firm Stuart, Biolchini and Turner in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is Chairman of the Board of Bank of Jackson Hole and Chairman of the Board of Bancshares of Jackson Hole, the holding company for Bank of Jackson Hole, which he and his family own. He is Chairman of the Board of Valley National Bank and Valley Bancshares in Oklahoma. He is Chairman of the Board of PennWell Corporation, an international media company. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Notre Dame.

Conrad Schwiering, Founder

Connie was born in the wide open spaces of Wyoming, and the land of jagged crags, beautiful mountain peaks, running streams, wild flowers, and abundant wildlife was his childhood playground. The first time he hiked with his dad in the shadow of the Tetons, he was struck with such awe at their majesty that he knew right then that the beauty of his mountain west was the life-story he needed to tell. Connie’s dad was the Dean of the College of Education and Law in Laramie, where his parents encouraged Connie to study in Business and Law. But after graduating from the University of Wyoming, Connie realized his passion for painting the West had only increased. He married his college sweetheart, Mary Ethel Smith (the former Miss Wyoming), and the newlyweds headed to New York, where Connie was to study art under some of the nation’s most prestigious artists.

WWII interrupted their plans for five years, and when the day finally came to head back home, they knew they would plant their roots in Jackson Hole. Connie’s motivation as an artist was his all-consuming love for the magnificent West, and he became one of America’s most inspired and gifted impressionist artists. Recognized during his life as “the Artist of the Tetons,” it was his majestic Tetons which was chosen as the Centennial Painting for the U.S. stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of Wyoming’s statehood in 1989. This centennial stamp is on display at Bank of Jackson Hole’s Main Branch. Schwiering has been the subject of television shows, two full-length biographies, art books, and numerous newspaper and magazine articles. He was a charter member of the National Academy of Western Art. Following his one-man show at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1981, he was awarded the Trustees’ Gold Medal for his outstanding contribution to Western art. In 1983, he won the William F. Cody award for art from the Old West Trail Foundation. Schwiering’s work is housed in numerous fine collections including the Montana Historical Society; the Whitney Gallery of Western Art in Cody, Wyoming; the Long Beach Art Museum; the National Cowboy Hall of Fame; the Genesee Country Museum in Rochester, New York; the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, and the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Bank of Jackson Hole owns the largest private collection of Schwiering paintings, memorializing the bank’s first Board Chairman with more than thirty of his paintings throughout its 9 bank branches.

Connie was a giant of men, a man of warmth and humor, compassion, integrity and faith. His handshake was a contract, he cared deeply for his community, and he was utterly awed and humbled in the daily presence of God’s majestic creations.

John F. Turner, Founder

John Turner was born in Jackson’s log cabin hospital (now the site of St. John’s Episcopal Church). A third generation rancher, he was raised on the Triangle X Ranch, where he and his brothers, Harold and Donald, still operate the dude ranch and float trips on the Snake River. Growing up hiking, skiing, riding, fishing and hunting in the beauty of the Teton Range, his heart has belonged to Jackson Hole since he could walk. John received a B.A. degree in Biology from the University of Notre Dame, and a Master of Science degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Michigan. He returned to Jackson Hole to reclaim the Triangle X as home with his new bride, Mary Kay Brady from Michigan, where they both settled into the rigorous life of dude ranching. But politics was in his blood, and for 19 years he and Mary Kay took up residence in Cheyenne serving the Wyoming State Legislature, where he became President of the State Senate.

Between 1989 and 1993, John served as the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where he was responsible for expanding collaborative approaches under the Endangered Species Act, increasing wetland protection and establishing 55 new National Wildlife Refuges, the most of any administration in the nation’s history. He became President and CEO of The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to public-private partnerships to protect land and water resources. With the support of over 200 corporations, the Fund under John’s guidance protected more than 2.8 million acres of parks, wildlife habitat, and open spaces across America.

In 2001, John was sworn in as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, heading the U.S. Department of State programs and activities concerning HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases; the environment; climate change; oceans affairs; and science and technology. During John’s lengthy and prestigious tenure in Washington, D.C., he remained Bank of Jackson Hole’s “honorary” Chairman, where he presently sits on the Board of Directors.