When Dee Conrad retires next week, she will celebrate the end of her 43 year banking career but will also start down a new path in her life’s journey. That journey has spanned over 4,000 miles and many years, leaving her excited to see where it will take her next. “I am eagerly awaiting to see what God has for me. He knows what’s best and where He needs me,” she smiled.
Dee’s life began far from the farmlands and four seasons of Fairfield County. She is the youngest of three kids, born in Hawaii to parents who worked civil service jobs for the military. Living near military bases meant there were always people coming and going from the far the reaches of the globe. “Other people never wanted to leave. They never wanted to go anywhere and I couldn’t understand it. All I ever wanted to do was to go. I wanted to see other places.”
And go, she did. At age 19, Dee flew to Baltimore, Maryland on a break from college. “I had blocked out three weeks so I could come to the Mainland. From Baltimore, I Amtraked to Dayton to visit my brother and went on to Chicago to see a friend. It was June but I really wanted to see snow. So I stayed,” she exclaimed with a laugh.
She found a job in the Dayton area and lived with friends of her family until some friends in Lancaster persuaded her to come to their town. She found work as a banker, met the man who would be her husband, saw her first snow and found where she belonged. “It was just flurries but I thought it was fabulous!” she exclaimed.
Where she belonged in her career was in banking. She started as a teller for a small bank in Lancaster. After being laid off from that job, she ended up at a new State Savings Bank being opened in town. She credits a supportive manager who saw her potential for helping her get that job. Dee worked at that office for eighteen years doing teller work, home equity loans and new accounts. She was assistant manager for a while as well.
When that bank was purchased by a national chain, Dee found herself stressed and unhappy. That’s when Ron Collins at the Friendly Bremen Banking Center came knocking. She made the move to our West Fair Avenue location in 1998 and the rest is history. “I have been here ever since. It’s been a good ride and I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful to Ron for giving me this opportunity. I’m grateful to all the people who have helped me over the years,” she said.
As a Senior Personal Banker, Dee assists customers with their accounts, HELOCs and focuses on taking care of the complete customer. “My philosophy when it comes to dealing with people is that I’m of two spirits. The Aloha Spirit is one of treating people really well. There’s also the Holy Spirit which gives me the gift of helping. I love to help others and feel like that’s a special thing that I can do because not everyone has that gift. I try to go the extra mile for people and to listen to what they’re saying as well as what they’re not saying. Sometimes the thing someone is voicing isn’t what they really need,” she said. “It’s important to listen and to look for opportunities to help in whatever way you can.”
When asked what advice she can offer, she had much wisdom to share. “Keep your eyes open for people who need your help and know you can make a difference. Don’t be afraid to let other people in. Your life will be so much richer if you embrace the people around you. Be open to different things and be open to listening to people talk about the things they like to talk about. I love listening to other people when they’re explaining what interests them! You will always learn something. It’s a big world and there are many places to see. Go explore the world and ask questions. Go far or even stay close to home because there are so many things to see right here in Ohio. Be curious and be open,” she said.
Dee and her husband Steve have been married for nearly 42 years. They have three sons, a daughter-in-law and two granddaughters who all live in the southwest. Since Steve is also retired, they hope to spend more time with their family, especially their granddaughters who are now an infant and a toddler.
How will she spend her free time? Dee enjoys reading and sewing and puts her vast skills to work by helping with the drama program at Lancaster High School. For the last fifteen years, she has been involved in the bank sponsored dessert contest at the Fairfield County Fair and is excited that she can enter her own desserts in the future. Her inquisitive nature and love of travel will likely keep her learning and on the go when possible as well.
She also has a giving spirit and mentioned people and groups that may need help although she admits there are plenty of projects at home to keep her busy.
Dee’s last day with the bank will be Friday, January 7. “I don’t know what this next chapter of my life will be like but I’m excited to see where God is taking me. I like to say that I’ve been on that three week vacation since 1978! It has been a wonderful time too.”