As I told you a few weeks ago, Comanche National Bank is turning 125 this year, and we are going to celebrate for the next five months by visiting with the five current bank employees who have been associated with the bank for the longest period of time.
Today, I sat down with Linda Johnston McKeehan to get her take on her years at CNB. Once again, I was reminded of a simpler life “yesterday when we were young,” as the old song said.
Linda was twenty-three in 1977, and she and husband, Marvin, were the parents of a son, their first child, who was slightly under a year old when Linda walked into the Comanche National Bank to make a deposit on that beautiful fall day.
Upon seeing her come in, bank president, Reg Waggoner, sent one of the bank’s employees, Patricia Harris, to ask Linda if she would consider coming to work for the bank. Of course, if you know anything at all about Linda, you know that she doesn’t do anything without praying about it first.
“I went home, thought about it, prayed about it, and then decided to take the job. I wish I had the words to describe what it is like to work for Comanche National Bank, but the best I can do is tell you that we are a family who cares about each other, and because of that, our work environment is very, very special.
“We’ve all worked very hard, but we’ve also had a lot of fun…like dressing for Halloween; that made it fun for our customers who came to see what we were doing. One year, I came as a bunny, and I’m hoping no pictures still exist of that one! The absolute funniest was Gerald Burns and Mickey Lofton who one year came as the Blues Brothers.
“We absolutely shut the town down that year because on the hour every hour, they turned on Blues Brothers music and performed a lip sync and dance. Everybody came to see the show with what felt like the whole town pouring in to see the hit of all time!
“Another year, we borrowed an old bank prop from Joe Evridge, and we pulled off a bank robbery during the parade. Randy Magers and some of his buddies were the bank robbers. No one knew what was going to happen as they suddenly rode up on their horses and robbed us. Again, the town loved it!
“I had worked for the bank for about twenty-five years when it was decided that we were going to have to expand, and I just didn’t believe I was up to it all. I went home that night and told Marvin that it was time for me to get out. It was a Wednesday and as we headed to church, I continued on with my ‘I’m not going to do this,’ and ‘I’m not going to do that.’
“I was still stewing about it the next morning when, as I was walking from my car to the bank door, I had a revelation of sorts as I began to remember the prayer of Jabez. Remember that prayer?”
Because I’ve known Linda since our days at Comanche High School, it didn’t surprise me at all that she would remember 1 Chronicles 4:10.
“Jabez had been so obedient that he had more herd than he had land, and he asked God to increase his territory, and it suddenly dawned on me that it was the same with Comanche National. We had more assets than we could loan in Comanche alone, and we needed to expand, plain and simple.
“God has blessed this bank tremendously and because of that, we were given the chance to take the bank’s honor and integrity into others communities. It took that prayer by Jabez to show me that God had also increased our territory, just as He had done for Jabez.
“Because of that we have had the opportunity to take our community bank and our community-based ideals into Parker, Pala Pinto, and Jack counties, and of course Comanche National has always been about community.
“I was asked to deliver one of the prayers when we dedicated the historical marker out in front of the bank. I prayed that the Lord would let us be as obedient as our ancestors before us were in this bank. To me, it is the honor and the integrity of the organization that makes the bank what it is.”
And the, Linda turned pensive on me as she thought about days gone by…
“I can still hear Myrt Jackson’s little heels on the lobby floor as she scooted across the bank. You always knew when Myrt was on a mission.
“Missy Jones….You can’t talk about Missy without remembering her soap box and the days of her getting on her soap box and going off on a tangent. Then all of us would laugh with her about it!
“Jerry Vines really cared about his flock. He didn’t like too many traveling together because, if something happened, too many might be hurt, and he ended my wood working by telling me that I might saw off my fingers.
“Sue Magers…what a banker she was! I am the banker I am today because of what I learned from Sue; she was a heck of a banker. Between Sue and then what Missy and Myrt taught me….well, Sue was a great banker, and Missy and Myrt were great teachers.”
And then, she turned to current bank president, Jeff Stewart.
“I’ve never seen a man with so much vision. His love for a community bank and the community it serves is amazing. He keeps us working as frugally as we can in order to preserve the legacy of Comanche national Bank, to keep it a community bank in a time when most community banks are being swallowed up by corporate entities. Jeff is always looking forward through the years to see what he can do to continue to prevent that.”
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