A familiar face will be missing from First National Bank this morning. That’s because Senior Vice President and Marketing Officer Sheila Bell retired yesterday after 37 years with the bank. The bank held a reception Wednesday to honor her years of dedication and hard work. Friends, family and colleagues all stopped by to say goodbye and wish her a happy retirement.
Bell said when she first started in 1982, she did not know a thing about banking.
“I was brought in by Mr. Judd who was president at the time,” Bell said. “I was doing some work for the Chamber of Commerce, and he was on the Board of Directors at the time. He met me and said I want you to come work at the bank. I’d never been in a bank in my life other than personal business, but he knew that I was a commercial artist, and he knew that I could help with the ads and PR.”
Bell said that she was first hired to do marketing and remained in the marketing department for the rest of her career with the bank. In addition to her marketing duties, she also branched out and stepped up to take over the First Ladies travel program after the program’s founder retired.
“When she retired nobody took her place,” Bell said. “ So (Senior Vice President and Trust Officer) Vicky Tyler and I stepped in and said we didn’t want to let the program die.”
The pair have run the First Ladies program for the last 28 years. Bell said one of the best parts of the job has been the opportunity to travel the world while making close, personal connections with the bank customers. Under the duo’s direction, the program has grown from a group of 200 travelers to over 2,000 today.
Leslie Walker has been Bell’s assistant for 28 years. She said Bell is more than just a coworker. She is a mentor and friend.
“She has taught me so much, and I learn from her,” Walker said. “We have coffee together every morning, and we talk about what we’re going to do and get a game plan together. She’s always so positive, and she always puts the bank first. She’s a great representative of the bank and the whole community.”
Walker said one of the things she will miss most now that Bell has retired is their morning coffee meetings. As for Bell herself, she said the thing she’ll miss most is the people.
“I’m going to miss all of these people,” Bell said. “There’s some who have been here longer than I have, so we’ve really become family. For a bank to be as big as we are, we’re still really tight knit. We’re still close.”
Bell said that she plans to spend the next month or so taking it easy and enjoying her free time. After that she said she and her husband Terry have plans to travel.