BY LEANN DILBECK –
A Forbes article recently cited that employee loyalty is at an all time low. Careerbuilder.com reported 76% of full-time workers, while not actively looking for a new job, would leave their current workplace if the right opportunity came along. Other studies show that each year, the average company loses anywhere from 20% to 50% of its employee base.
In contrast to those staggering statistics is Union Bank’s Sarah Curry, who recently announced that she would be retiring after 47 years in the banking industry… all of which have been spent at Mena’s locally owned bank, the Union Bank of Mena.
Union Bank of Mena President Philip Hensley spoke of Sarah’s impeccable work ethic and integrity, “I’ve known Sarah most all of my life. My mother worked at Union Bank alongside Sarah. She is a very self-motivated individual who took her job seriously and enjoyed her job. In recent years, banking has changed a lot with more emphasis on regulatory paperwork. Sarah would not let these changes affect her customers. She would go the ‘extra’ mile for her customer. We will miss her as a part of our management team here at Union. She has been a great example of a ‘hometown banker’.”
Sarah graduated from Mena High School as Valedictorian in 1968. She married James Curry and they raised two sons, James and Jared. Like many working moms, she juggled the responsibilities of family and professional career.
“Banking was my love,” said Sarah, “The Bank has been an important part of my life and my role in the community.” Sarah’s knowledge of the banking industry is extensive. She notes, “I have had the opportunity to work in many areas of the bank and currently serve as Loan Officer, Compliance Officer, BSA Officer, CRA Officer, and supervisor of the Vice President of Loan Operations.”
She acknowledged that lending has been her favorite aspect of banking. She further explained that the nature of lending enables one to develop longer-term relationships with customers. She also stated, “As a loan officer, I have had the honor to work with many members of the community from all walks of life and I will miss those relationships. I now have the privilege of serving second and third generations of some families. I thank the bank and my customers for placing their trust in me.”
With almost five decades in the business, Sarah has witnessed many changes in the industry. Business hours have increased to better serve customers and technology changes have been monumental. “There were no computers when I began my career at Union Bank in 1968. We posted all the checks individually by hand. Customers can now use technology such as mobile banking and Internet banking. Loan customers can now contact loan officers by email and by text. My customers know they can contact me after hours and on weekends.” This is a stark contrast to the early part of Sarah’s career when her workday ended at 3 in the afternoon. “Banking has changed much like generations have changed,” but she will be very quick to tell you that the one constant is “The Union Bank way,” referring to the bank’s decades-old philosophy of focusing on the customer experience which, in Sarah’s tenure, has included five chairmen of the board, five presidents, and three locations. “Although each of the chairmen and presidents may have had different banking strategies, the community and the customer experience were always the focus. That’s what I’ve always loved about Union Bank and I think that is why we continue to grow in a much more competitive environment. Our goal is and always has been investing in and serving our local community with consistent focus on the customer experience.”
Sarah has enjoyed traveling extensively over the last few years with her husband, Buck Titsworth. The couple have traveled to Paris, London, Rome, Venice, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Hawaii, just to name a few, but Sarah will quickly tell you that paragliding through The Swiss Alps has been her favorite!
As many retirees do, Sarah is looking forward to spending more time with family and grandchildren. “Grandchildren make the world go around,” she said. “They just know me as ‘Nana’ that gets down in the floor to play with them and not as a banker.” Her son James and his wife, Beth, live in Duncan, Okla. and have three children, Allison, Ava, and Gavin. Her son Jared and his wife, Lindsey live in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and have two children, Braeden and Anniston.
Buck has four daughters along with 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Stacey Skinner, with husband Steve, live in St. Joseph, Missouri with five children and one grandchild. Shelley Mashburn, and husband Tracy, live in Broken Arrow, Okla. with five children and one grandchild. Lauren Wolf, with husband Jason, live in Edmond, Okla. with one child. And, Katherine Roberts, with husband Josh, also live in Edmond, Okla.
Through the years of working closely with the community, Sarah has also served on the hospital commission of Mena Regional Health System, as president of the Mena Lioness Club, and also as a member of the Healthy Connections, Inc. Board of Directors.
Retiring was a “bitter sweet” decision said Sarah because she will miss her customers and colleagues but freely admits that she is eager to give back to the local community in a more personal manner now that she is looking forward to retirement.
Union Bank will host a retirement reception honoring Sarah’s 47 years of service on Friday, February 23 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and the public is invited to come and celebrate with her.