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First Bank & Trust announced that co-founder and Managing Director James C. Lytle will retire Dec. 31. The locally owned and managed community bank was founded in 1995 by Robert Yohanan, Howard Kain and Mr. Lytle, with a mission to put community first, and provide personalized banking and investment services to individuals, owner-managed businesses and the not-for-profit community. 

 “The bank was founded to serve the community in every sense and because the community has embraced us, we have been able to grow exponentially,” said Mr. Lytle. “One of the accomplishments I’m most proud of is our current ‘Outstanding’ rating from the Federal Reserve Bank for community reinvestment.” Mr. Lytle added, “This demonstrates we are succeeding in our mission to be the most responsive and responsible bank in the communities we serve.”

Mr.  Lytle began his career in banking in 1964 at the State Bank of Evanston.  While maintaining his banking career, he served a term as alderman in 1973, and then served two terms as mayor of Evanston in 1977 and 1981. After his term in office he joined the Pioneer Bank in Chicago. In 1988, Mr. Lytle and four other managers launched an Initial Public Offering and bought the bank. In 1993 the partners sold Pioneer Bank, and Mr. Lytle, Mr. Kain and Mr. Yohanan went on to found First Bank & Trust. 

Over the years Mr. Lytle served as a board chairman, officer or a director for more than two dozen nonprofit organizations including American Academy of Pediatrics, Child Care Center of Evanston, Citizen Police Advisory Committee (co-founder), Evanston150 (co-founder) Evanston Community Foundation, Evanston Inventure (founder), McGaw YMCA, North Shore Council of Mayors and Turning Point Behavioral Health Care Center.

Managing Director and CEO Robert Yohanan said, “When we started the bank nearly 20 years ago, Jay was a master of all trades. No duty was too small and no challenge too complex. Jay was instrumental in developing a strategic vision for the bank, and he worked tirelessly to establish meaningful and long-lasting relationships with local businesses and residents. His leadership brought us all together for the betterment of our community and his professionalism benefited everyone-customers and staff alike. Jay Lytle will always be remembered as an excellent businessman, but our community will never forget that he was our friend.”