Local business woman and banker, Lee Taylor, has worked for 43 years in the banking business. Last Thursday was a testimony to her service and commitment in the community banking system when friends, customers and former bosses came together for a retirement party at Brock’s BBQ in Chester. She had no idea of the surprise while being escorted in by Paul Carnes and said it was the best she has ever had. “I have the best friends in the world,” she said. “I love them all.”
Jim Brock organized the party. Brock’s BBQ is Taylor’s Tuesday lunch spot and through the years with bank mergers and openings, Jim Brock, along with the family business, has always followed Taylor for their banking business.
“We have followed her bank to bank. She is an extremely honest banker,” Brock said. “Always been an inspiration and professional. Banking has changed, as we all know with the departure of Lee Taylor.”
Taylor began her career in banking with the National Bank of Commerce in West Virginia in 1973. When her husband’s, Don Taylor, job transferred him to Virginia and they settled in Chester, she started working at The Community Bank of Petersburg. She came to work as a teller for Peoples Bank of Virginia in 1986. Mr. Quentin Corbett, president of People’s in the 90s, gave Taylor a new opportunity. “He looked at me one day and said, ‘you see that desk over there, make yourself a job.’ He is the person that believed in me at that time,” she said.
She worked her way up to branch manager. “When we became F & M Bank, there was no difference in the way we were. It was not a job to me. I really enjoyed coming to work; I made lots of good friends.”
BB& T eventually purchased F & M “I stayed with them until one day when Mr. Will Carnes came into my office and said to me, ‘sweetheart, we are reopening Peoples Bank and I am building you a branch, will you come to work for me?’” Taylor said. “My answer was, tell me when you want me. I truly loved Mr. Carnes. He did a lot for me. He was a true friend. His family, Paul and Teri, have always treated me like family instead of an employee of the bank. Peoples Bank of Virginia was a business; however, it was a family first.”
First Community Bank bought People’s Bank, which is located in the Courthouse Commons Shopping Center, three years ago. Taylor said they are still a community bank and a good place to work. She said she will miss her friends and customers but is ready to spend more time with her children and grandchildren, travel and volunteer with her church.
Taylor lost her husband in July. They had fifty years together and he was also considered a part of the People’s Bank family. “I could not have had all these years without the support of Don,” she said. “He always carried me to work in bad weather. He was always there for me. I miss him very much.”
“I would like to think that I have helped a few businesses over the course of my time in banking,” she said. “If I have, I can only say I have gotten more from them than they have from me. I know I can never say thank you enough for all the people who has stood by me and helped me to grow as a person and as a banker. You all know who you are and I will be forever grateful.”
Many friends and business associates had many great things to say about Taylor on Thursday. A good friend and sorority sister, Thelma Hevener said, “She is very much a people person.” Linda Harris said, “She is a wonderful person, especially to work with, she will be missed. Thank you Lee for many years of support and service.” Paul Carnes said, “We are going to have to find a way to keep in touch with her. She has been a blessing. She is one in a million.” Danny Shoosmith said, “We are all going to miss her.” Former CEO of People’s and Board Member at First Community, Jim Atkinson said, “She is a great person. She did a good job for the bank for a very long time.” John Osborne, owner of J.L. Osborne Excavating Contracting said it best, “She is a mighty sweet lady, all the guys love her and all the wives don’t care because they love her just as much.”
By Linda Fausz