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Saying farewell after 47 years in banking

By: Erin Smith

After and long and successful career in the banking industry, one local banker was saying farewell to staff on Friday afternoon. Judy Harrelson, the Branch Manager of Wells Fargo in Elizabethtown, has transitioned to retirement.

“It is definitely bittersweet. I just love my customers,” said Harrelson. Her retirement was marked on Thursday evening with a celebration held at the Elizabethtown Baptist Church. The gathering included the District Manager and Regional Manager for Wells Fargo as well as family and friends.

Harrelson began her career with the Bank of Elizabethtown on December 28, 1970. She said she was hired by Clyde Jordan and David Ayers. The Bank of Elizabethtown eventually transitioned to Wachovia Bank which would later transition to Wells Fargo. Harrelson has the distinction of being the longest serving employee at the Elizabethtown branch.

“We applaud Judy for her dedication and commitment over the last 46 years. We should all hope to be so committed,” said Deanne R. Robinson-Blue, District Manager with Wells Fargo, in an email to colleagues.

Harrelson said one of the biggest changes she witnessed during her tenure in the banking industry has been the introduction and use of technology. When she first began her banking career in the 1970s, she said there were no cell phones and no computers. Harrelson explained all of the business communications were done either by landline telephone and/or interoffice mail.

“This was before the time of direct deposit and mobile or online banking so customers came to the bank for all of their needs but that was still a good thing back then,” said Harrelson.

Robinson-Blue said, “Judy has had a huge impact in banking and finance in Elizabethtown. Judy is known for her commitment to the Bladen County community over the past 46 years with her volunteer efforts with many organizations.”

When asked what her advice would be to someone who is just beginning their career in banking, Harrelson said, “To put the customer first. The customer comes first always. Do what is right for the customer.”

Her plans for the future? Harrelson said she wants to enjoy her free time and is excited about retirement.

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