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Humphrey family tussle emerges at Five Star Bank

Five Star Bank finds itself in the midst of a tussle between members of the Humphrey family, who were instrumental in its growth, over which direction the board ought to go.

Earlier this year, former president and CEO Peter G. Humphrey said the board should explore merging with another bank. That was after a Texas-based shareholder, Clover Partners, pushed for the board to sell. Such a sale could put the Warsaw-based bank’s headquarters jobs at risk.

Now, one of Humphrey’s cousins, Richard O. Humphrey, has joined the debate, urging the bank to stay independent. The Buffalo News obtained a copy of his letter to Martin K. Birmingham, president and CEO of the bank parent company, Financial Institutions.

“My family has thoughtfully considered the recent correspondence from other shareholders and do not share their views,” Richard Humphrey wrote. “My family is aligned with the spirit of community banking and the direct and positive impact that Five Star has on many communities across Western New York.”

“We do not support the positions that have been publicly communicated by other shareholders,” he wrote. Richard Humphrey said he, his stepmother, brother and sister own at least 6.4 percent of the company’s stock.

In an interview, Richard Humphrey said he wanted to stress the importance of Five Star remaining independent. “I wouldn’t want to see a larger bank take over,” he said.

Five Star officials could not be reached to comment.

email: mglynn@buffnews.com