Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nana's Retirement from NationsBank (now Bank of America)

Originally posted on Remembering Frances on July 14, 2009.

Nana retired from NationsBank (initially Ellis National Bank and now Bank of America) on her 80th birthday, July 18, 1996, after 40 years of employment at the bank. During her long tenure, she was the first woman to become Vice President of any bank in the Ellis Bank Group and she mastered three different computer systems in 15 years - a feat for anyone of any age, but especially for a woman of her generation.

I remember when Ellis National Bank initially merged with another bank in the early 1980s to become NCNB. As part of the merger, the bank, for the first time ever, went to a computer system for banking. Each banker had to learn the new computer system and pass a computer competency exam in order to continue their employment. At that time, Nana was about 65 and thinking about possibly retirement. I remember sitting around her dinner table in Crystal Beach listening to her talk about whether or not she should retire and her beliefs about whether she could pass the computer exam. She honestly wasn't so sure.

But Nana was no quitter. She was a lifelong learner and believed education was everything. She was not going to let some computer system best her into retirement. So she studied and practiced everyday before and after work and when it was time to take the computer test, she passed it with the highest score of any banker, including many bankers 30 or 40 years her junior.

Over the years, the computer system would change two more times during her tenure with the bank. Each time, she had to pass a competency exam to keep her job and each time she scored the highest of any banker.

Before she retired in 1996, she learned how to use email. I'll never forget the day I looked at my email at Hogan & Hartson in Washington DC and I had an email from Nana. We emailed back and forth a couple of times before she retired. Although she never used them again, having those computer skills was a source of considerable pride for Nana. She didn't know any other 80 year old women who could use a computer and send emails across country.

The video below was made on the day of her retirement. The local ABC affiliate station came to NationsBank that day and did a story on her. It aired that night. We stayed up and watched it together. Enjoy!

Frances Paulk Retirement from Orange Video Guest on Vimeo.

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