100 years strong

Published 6:36 pm Friday, March 19, 2010

Over the last several years, much of the news about banks has been negative. Between bailouts and closings the industry is facing tough times.

However, our county features a bright spot for banking as the people of Dozier are celebrating the First National Bank of Dozier’s 100th anniversary this year.

“We are the only bank in Crenshaw County that didn’t fail during the Great Depression,” said W.B. Smith, Jr., president of the bank.

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The First National Bank of Dozier was formed in 1910 for an investment of only $25,000 of capital.

For reference, starting a bank today requires around $20 million of capital.

“We’ve got some 90-year-old customers still banking with us that remember when the bank was pretty young,” Smith said.

One testament to the bank’s stability is the number of bank presidents.

In the 100 years since the bank started, there have only been five presidents: founder Fox Henderson, A.F. Merrill, W.A. Merrill, W.H. McGhee and current president W.B. Smith.

Linda Colquett, who serves as a bank director, executive vice-president and cashier, is the longest-tenured employee at 48 years.

“I’ve seen so many things change in the time I’ve been here that it’s unreal,” she said. “We used to keep the books by hand, and you had to make two copies of everything.”

The bank was honored on Tuesday by with a visit from Jane Neidhardt, Julie Pleimling and Gilbert Barker with the national office of the Comptroller of the Currency to present the bank with a plaque.

“I’ve been with the OCC for 33 years, and I’ve seen banks of this size and know how much it means to the community,” said Barker, who oversees more than 550 banks across the southeast from Texas to Florida.

Smith agreed that the community is the heart of the bank’s success.

“Banks live on the economy of the local community, and we really appreciate their confidence in us and keeping us successful,” he said.

This Friday, the bank will be showing their appreciation to customers through a reception from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Customers of the bank are invited to stop by and join in the centennial celebration.

“We’d love to have people stop by and tell them how much we appreciate them,” Smith said.