Melanie Dressel, who died on Sunday, is remembered around the South Sound for so much beyond her high-achieving performance as president and chief executive officer of Columbia Banking System.
A part of the original team that sounded Columbia Bank in 1993, Dressel helped to create a distinct style of banking based on community ties and community involvement. From her earliest start at Bank of California in Tacoma, through her professional growth at Puget Sound Bank, then following its leader, W.W. “Bill” Philip, to Columbia in 1993. She succeeded him as president in 2000 and CEO in February 2003.
Under her leadership, the Bank grew from one branch to over 140 in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Ms. Dressel had also been chairman of the board for Puget Sound Energy Inc. and Puget Energy Inc. since January 2015. She served as a director of the American Bankers Association and was named as one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking by American Banker Magazine seven times.
In her home community, Dressel was a board member of Executive Council for a Greater Tacoma, Washington State Historical Society, Washington Bankers Association, Washington Roundtable, the Arts Fund and many other organizations.
Social media channels are flooded with personal remembrances and tributes, both locally and from across the nation through her banking connections. Seemingly each individual and many, many co-workers had unique connections to Melanie Dressel, and they’re remembering in unique ways.
The family and bank have not yet announced services in her honor.