Since 1998, commonly heard phrases around our McArthur office have included things like “ask Joe” and “Joe will know what to do.” That’s because Joe Gibson has been the Building Manager, taking care of everything from ordering supplies and moving furniture to managing maintenance projects for parts of the last four decades. It will be the end of an era when he retires on New Year’s Eve.
“Everyone here has been so good to me. They’ve all treated me like their own family so I’m really going to miss everyone,” he said.
This job was actually a part time role after he retired from 42 years in sales at Chillicothe Electric Supply. “I wasn’t looking for a job but Bob Will called and said that he had loan officers doing things around the bank that took away from their time with customers. He needed someone part time to take care of things and it sounded like a good fit,” Joe explained.
Joe is a quiet man who simply takes care of things that others might not notice. At the age of 86, he is youthful and more energetic than many younger coworkers and always at the ready to assist in any way he can.
He grew up in Chillicothe where he graduated from Chillicothe High School. After graduation he did a peacetime stint in the Army National Guard. “It was after Korea and just before we got into Vietnam. They wanted me to train to be a helicopter pilot but I decided not to stay in. I have often wondered what might have been but I don’t regret anything about my life. It’s been a good one,” he said.
He bought a farm near Allensville in Vinton County in 1972 and relocated. At Chillicothe Electric Supply, Joe worked in sales with accounts at places like Kenworth and with all the hardware stores in a 40 mile radius. It wasn’t long after retiring from that job that he joined the bank family.
Shortly after that, tragedy struck at home. His wife Phyllis was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. “Life stopped as we knew it. She became a patient and I became a caregiver,” he said. Joe worked to keep her at home for as long as possible, even taking a leave of absence from the bank for a while. When that was no longer possible, she moved to the nursing home in McArthur where Joe visited her every day. “The bank was good to me and let me set my hours so I could feed her lunch every day before work and dinner afterward. In fourteen years, I only had to miss visiting her for two weeks after my heart attack,” he explained. “She was never, ever a burden. I know she would have done the same for me.”
He even trained to be a nurse’s aide and spent a few years working at his wife’s nursing home so he could help other residents while being close to Phyllis. He often signed her out to go for rides, to get ice cream or pick up lunch to enjoy together at the lake. She passed away three years ago.
When asked what advice he might have to offer, Joe spoke of helping others. “When we have a new teller, I like to go to them and ask if they need a customer to practice on. I’ll ask them for a money order or whatever I need and tell them to take their time. It helps them and puts them at ease and gives them the opportunity to practice things that are new to them,” he explained. “I always tell them to slow down. You have a customer in front of you. Take care of that customer, focus on that customer. They’re the most important person in that moment. If you try to hurry it will take twice as long because you will make mistakes.”
How does Joe stay so youthful? He stays active. He enjoys outdoor activities like fishing and hunting. He exercises and loves to get outside. He feeds the birds, squirrels and deer and has a woodworking shop for projects. “I’m probably the only person you know trying to design a bird proof squirrel feeder,” he exclaimed. “It’s usually the other way around! I made one and it didn’t quite work so I’m still working on it.”
Joe also has a lady friend who has introduced him to her hobby farm. He has discovered that he really loves chickens and enjoys caring for them.
He’s already looking forward to a quiet winter at home where he can look after his outdoor friends and plan his garden. “The rocking chair is a death sentence. Once you sit down, your body stops. Your heart is a muscle and you have to work it to keep going.”
“I have enjoyed working here. It’s been a good run and I’m going to miss everyone. The people here have been so nice to me. Everyone has treated me like their own family. It’s just time to go.”
Joe’s last day at the bank will be December 31.