Alice (Frampton) Dittman was born in 1930 to a family that had deep roots in agriculture, valued education and found (through her father) a new direction in banking. Her father, George, was born in Nebraska but his family left to start a ranch in Oklahoma. He returned to Nebraska to further his education. He met Cecile Meyer (who was also a college student) and they married in 1918. They worked in and founded banks in Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa.
Their daughter Alice attended the University of Nebraska and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1952. A snip from the Cornhusker yearbook from that year shows her and other senior BA students below.
After graduation, Alice wanted to attend graduate school in business at Harvard, but they did not admit women at the time. She instead was part of the Harvard/Radcliffe program in Business Administration which she completed (it was a non-degree program) in 1953. She returned to Lincoln and started working on her Master’s degree, graduating in 1955. She worked at a bank during her graduate school program. Later in life, she also graduated from the University of Wisconsin School of Banking (1978).
It was in 1955 that she married Marcus Dittman, who was also a business graduate and shared her interest in the banking industry. In 1959 Marcus (Mark) had the opportunity to found a bank in Central City where he served as president and Alice as cashier.
Their careers led to more opportunities including founding or moving banks in or to Richmond, Missouri and Lincoln. One of those, the Cornhusker Bank, was an $8,000,000 bank in the mid-70s.
It was in 1975 that Mark passed away, leaving her as a single parent to three children (Dawn, John, and Douglas). As the vice-president of the bank, she assumed her husband’s role as president of Cornhusker Bank, the first woman to hold such a role in the Nebraska metro area. She remained president (and also CEO and Chairman of the Board) until 1996 but continued to serve on the board until 2013. She holds the title of “Chair Emeritus”.
The bank grew to $236 million in assets during her time at the helm.
During her career, she spoke up against the culture of sexual harassment women faced in the industry. She was also an early proponent of automated teller machines. In the late 1970’s customers did not embrace the machines with open arms (sort of like self-service checkouts today). She convinced her colleagues to wait out the adoption curve - now it is hard to imagine doing business with a bank without using an ATM.
She also served as president of the Nebraska Banker’s Association (there is a good story about a meeting of that group and her defying convention re: tee times for women in the Omaha World Herald link below).
Alice is still very much alive (as of the writing of this article) and continues to be active in charitable work. She also holds the title of “grandma” for her seven grandchildren.
NET did a series on “Nebraska Pathbreakers” and, of course, Alice was one of the featured people. That video is linked below (It is worth the watch!)
NET Nebraska “Pathbreakers” series