Central Bank began its legacy on January 9, 1902, when Lon Stephens helped create Central Missouri Trust Company. He served as Missouri State Treasurer and then as Governor until January 1901.
Sam Baker Cook arrived in Jefferson City in 1900 and assumed the presidency of the Central Missouri Trust Company in 1905 after serving as Missouri’s Secretary of State. He began a legacy of service that continues to this day.
Cook was committed to serving Jefferson City. After the Capitol building burned in 1911, he fought with city leaders to ensure that Jefferson City would remain the state capitol.
In 1916, Cook moved the Central Missouri Trust Company into a seven-story Carthage stone building on the corner of Madison and High Street where it remains today. Jefferson City residents christened this building “the first skyscraper.”
In the first 15 years, the resources available to the bank more than tripled, and the company increased its commitment to help Jefferson City grow.
Sam Baker Cook continued to promote the company and his adopted hometown until his death in 1931. He was succeeded by his son, Howard, who began working at the bank as a high school student in 1905.
Howard took over the bank in the heart of the Great Depression, a period when the economic crisis threatened local and state government. When the state of Missouri could not make its payroll, or offer relief, Howard Cook agreed to make a $1 Million loan available to the state. Meanwhile, the bank continued to operate without any changes, and was one of the two banks in Jefferson City that survived the Depression.
Like his father before him, Howard Cook passed along the leadership of the bank to his son, Sam B. Cook in 1961. A veteran of World War II, and a graduate of Yale University, Cook presided over unprecedented expansion of the bank and its operations.
The company was renamed The Central Trust Bank in 1969, and then shortened to Central Bank in 1987.
Over the years, Central Bank continued to grow into a corporation, Central Bancompany, in 1970. Central Bancompany currently operates 13 banks throughout Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado and Oklahoma with over $14 Billion in assets.
Cook, who served as a chairman of both Central Trust Bank and Central Bancompany starting in 1981, continued the bank’s family legacy when he named his son, S. Bryan Cook, Chief Executive officer in 2008.
After a lifetime of business success and amazing generosity in the form of philanthropy, Sam Cook passed away in July of 2016. As a leader in the community, Cook left a legacy of innovation.
He had an interest in higher education, serving at different times on the boards of William Woods College (now University) in Fulton, Washington University in St. Louis and the statewide University of Missouri Board of Curators.
He also served on statewide committees and boards charged with improving Missouri's public higher education system.
After his passing, we released a statement describing Cook as "a visionary who took a prominent bank in Jefferson City and transformed it into a multi-bank holding company with banks in four states. Under his leadership, Central Bancompany grew to be one of the largest and most respected bank holding companies in Missouri.
As the twenty-first century progresses, Central Bank has the same vision for the future that guided their predecessors over a century ago. Central Bank will continue to be committed to taking an integral role in the community and serving its neighbors as it has for over 100 years.