When Christyne Calvin came to work at Vinton County National Bank, Ronald Reagan was President, a postage stamp cost .18 cents and a loaf of bread averaged .54 cents. The year was 1981 and Christyne was embarking on a career that lasted 34 years and left a lasting impression on the bank.
Christyne will retire from her position as Loan Review Officer on December 31. Her bank family celebrated with a party last week where retired VCNB President and current Board Member Steve Hunter gave a tribute to her career and remarkable work ethic. “While she literally did grow up in the bank, she started full time in 1981, and, as of the end of the year she will have worked some 12,589 days, some 34 plus years,” Hunter told a group of bank employees and retirees.
Hunter reflected on her extensive career. “Christyne actually has worked in just about every job, in every department in the bank – some of which she had to invent and define as she went along. From hand filing checks to writing bank policy, she has literally done it all. Most recently she built and defined the important role of loan review,” Hunter reminisced.
Christyne’s family founded VCNB in 1867. Her father, J.G. Will also enjoyed an extensive career with the bank, including several years as President. “I didn’t want to come in and just be J.G’s daughter,” Christyne said. “I wanted to do some serious numbers work and I wanted to earn my keep.”
With a degree in Journalism, Christyne had left Vinton County to be a newspaper reporter and social worker. When she realized that a career change to banking made sense, she returned to college to earn a Master’s in Business Administration before moving home to McArthur and taking a job at the bank. “I was a working mother and wanted to do something meaningful but also wanted to be close to mom and dad so the kids could get to know their grandparents…. It made a lot of sense,” she explained.
Christyne has also served on the bank and CBI Board of Directors for several years. Her experience in various roles has made her a tremendous resource for younger employees and coworkers over the years.
She noted that it is impossible to talk about a banking career without mentioning change. “Oh, the changes I’ve seen! The pace has certainly quickened, mostly due to technology,” she mused.
When she started, Christyne said her desk had an electric typewriter, a telephone, adding machine, pen and paper. Desktop computers would not be popular in the office for another decade or more. “It was hard to get information in this age before the internet. If you needed a credit rating, you would call the credit bureau and write it down over the phone. Information is much easier to get today and we have an entire department devoted to technology,” she said. “Another big change is that electronic banking has given us the ability to live away from the area and still bank here. Even if you move, you can still bank with us.”
One of her greatest career accomplishments is the creation of the bank’s first Loan Review Program. “We built it from scratch, went to a lot of schools and did plenty of research to create something that worked. And I would like to think that we improved the quality of the loan portfolio and the credit culture here,” she said.
She cited her ability to work with external auditors and bank examiners as a benefit to the bank. “My own dad said ‘there’s more than one way to skin a cat.’ You can always learn something from others, learn how they do things differently and take from it the best of their knowledge,” she explained.
Christyne talked about her dad some when we chatted about her retirement and Hunter also mentioned the correlation between J.G. Will and his daughter. “For those of you who have gotten to know Christyne, in many ways you’ve also gotten to know J.G. She, like her father, has a quiet yet confident manner. Broadly inquisitive and curious yet unassuming. Deeply analytical. Very balanced and fair. Always appreciative and complimentary to every member of the entire staff,” Hunter said.
Following her retirement, Christyne plans to move south to be close to family, including her grandchildren Stella, Asher and Marie Claire.
“I’m going to miss everybody here. You can’t spend that many days and hours of your life without missing it. But I’m moving towards something. Those kids can’t wait for their Memaw to be there and I’m looking forward to the free time,” she said. “Time gives you possibility. I look forward to going at my own pace and pursuing things that matter to me. I’m hoping to exercise my creativity, take yoga… go for walks more often, subscribe to National Geographic and actually have time to read! Imagine having time to just sit and enjoy my coffee. Look up at the sky and breathe,” she mused.
“I can’t believe this is going to be my life. Thank you Lord, thank you,” she exclaimed.