Merton A. Lund

Merton Allan Lund, 77, of Sioux Falls, S.D., succumbed to cancer at the Sherman Hospice House on the campus of the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, surrounded by his family on Jan. 15, 2013.


“Mert” was a lifelong South Dakota resident born in Brandt, S.D., on July 23, 1935, the son of Elmer and Edna (Bos) Lund.


Mert graduated from Brookings High School in 1954 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree from South Dakota State University in 1959. He began his career in 1960 as the owner/CEO of the Brookings County Credit Bureau, selling it a year later.


He then partnered with his father, Elmer, to buy the Spring Valley Ranch in Estelline, S.D. In 1961, Mert moved to Minneapolis, where he worked as a loan officer at Minnesota Federal Savings and Loan. While working there, he met his wife, Karen, and they were married May 31, 1963. During their honeymoon, Mert suffered a major stroke, and the newly married couple returned to Brookings for a year of rehabilitation. They welcomed their son George in June 1964.


Later that year, Mert repurchased the Brookings County Credit Bureau. In 1972, Mert purchased the Bank of Toronto in Toronto, S.D. The bank had assets of $4.5 million. Over the years, the bank grew and added branches. In 1986, George joined him at the bank and the name was changed to BANKFIRST in 1989. The bank grew to more than $1 billion in assets before it was successfully sold in 2005.


In 2011, the Lund family re-entered the banking business by purchasing First Midwest Bank of Centerville, S.D., now rebranded as One American Bank and based in Sioux Falls.


Mert was also an entrepreneurial investor, taking an interest in a wide range of businesses. Of great importance to him, he continued the family tradition of investing in South Dakota farmland.


From his father, he grew up learning the importance of working longer and harder, and planting straighter rows, than the man in the next field over. Later in life, when he focused his career on banking, these prairie lessons helped him succeed and were further demonstrated in his support for many South Dakota charitable organizations and educational scholarships. To celebrate his contributions to South Dakota, Gov. William Janklow declared Mert’s birthday as M.A. Lund Day.


While a native son of South Dakota, Mert and his wife, Karen, called Arizona their other home for more than 25 years. It was a place they loved and where they made many friends in the business and philanthropic community. They were especially proud to have grown the BANKFIRST family in Chandler, Ariz., to more than 1,500 employees.


The Lund family has a long philanthropic relationship with the Mayo Clinic, creating and funding the Lund Family Neurosurgery Suite at the clinic in Arizona, establishing and funding the chair of the Palliative Care Department and supporting Mayo’s post-graduate education program.



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