Watson ends 43-7ear career with Liberty National

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 12, 2000

When Ethelyn Watson retired from Liberty National Life Insurance Company at the end of 1999, she had been with the company longer than any other active employee. Retirement, however, has not even begun to slow her down, and she says she is looking forward to some happy and rewarding time with her grandchildren-if she can ever stop working.

For 43 years, Ethelyn was the office manager of the Greenville Liberty National location. During that time she became associate, friend, confidante, and sometimes mother figure to agents and policy holders alike. And, while some would say she became the single most recognizable employee of the company during her tenure there, Ethelyn says she almost didn't get the job.

"When I originally applied for the job they hired someone else," Ethelyn said. "But, she didn't work out and I got the job."

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For more than four decades, Ethelyn proved her worth to the employees and clients of Liberty National by showing compassion for those around her and always being there for others to depend on.

"I was happy to go to work every day because I knew I was going to be of service to someone," she said. "And I knew that my work was important."

During her career, Ethelyn became a walking encyclopedia of company policy and procedure. And, she says there have been incidents of claims on policies so old she was the only one in the office who remembered how those claims should be handled.

Ethelyn outlasted seven district managers, two of whom have since deceased, and says she has tried to live up to her primary responsibility of making sure the policy holders got the service they deserved. It is the relationships she formed with her clients and co-workers she says she will miss the most.

"The thing that means the most to me is the lasting friendships I formed with the people I

worked for and with," she said. "The people are who I will miss the most."

Butler County Circuit Clerk Allen Stephenson is a former agent and sales manager for Liberty National. He said Ethelyn was the continual driving force in what has become an ever changing industry.

"Liberty National has been more than a career for Ms. Ethelyn," Stephenson said. "It has truly been her calling, her ministry, if you will."

Lucky Cope has been with Liberty National for 15 years. And, while Cope has only been manager of the Greenville district for less than a year, he said Ethelyn's dedication to her job has been the true story behind the success of the district.

"She is a tremendously hard worker and doesn't mind working as long as she has to in order to complete a project," he said. "She loves her life and has done what it takes to be successful. She has really made this district what it is."

Out of Liberty National's 112 districts, the Greenville district boasts a number three ranking company wide. Cope said this success can be attributed to the hard work of Ethelyn.

"She has this vast amount of knowledge about the company that just can't be taught to someone else," he said. "Whenever there was a question or a problem with something, she knew exactly how to handle it.

"We will miss her deeply," he continued.

Cope said Ethelyn's replacement, Diane Norris, who started working part-time in mid-1999 to begin training and has been full-time since December. She will have an advantage in getting started because she has been trained by Ethelyn who continues to share her wealth of knowledge by working part-time now herself.

Ethelyn says she will continue working at Liberty National on Fridays for a while, but she is looking forward to taking some short trips with family and friends and spending more time with her grandchildren.