Bank President and CEO Bob Bailey, (left) accepted a proclamation from Congressman Rob Wittman (right) proclaiming June 22 as Peoples Community Bank Day.
It was a festive Saturday in Montross.
On June 22, families and visitors came together over music, hot dogs, pony rides, moon bounces, vintage roadsters and a speech from U.S. Congressman Rob Wittman (R-Va 1st) to celebrate the 100th birthday of Peoples Community Bank.
June 17, 2013 marked the centennial of an institution that first began as the Peoples Bank of Montross during a time when customers applied for loans through putting up their mules and buggies for collateral.
In her research of Montross, Town Manager Brenda T. Reamy discovered that Peoples is both the oldest and only business in the town to have reached the 100-year mark.
Reamy called Peoples’ feat “unusual” as the institute has weathered a century’s worth of
financial crises, particularly the Great Depression and the recent Long Recession.
“I think the thing that is intriguing to me is that it’s in a small town and it has survived all of the things that had been happening in our country,” said Reamy.
PCB President and CEO Bob Bailey III noted that when Peoples first opened its doors in 1913, the bank had $42,000 in capital and assets.
“We’re now sitting at about $155 million,” said Bailey. “That is a tribute to the great community of the Northern Neck that we serve.”
Randy Phelps, Vice President of Retail Banking and Human Resources for PCB, traced the bank’s original leadership to Dr. R.H. Stuart, who served as Peoples’ first president until 1922.
From there, a list of distinguished names traded places at the helm of the institution, including: J.W. Hutt from ’22 to ’35; R.D. McFadden from ’35 to ’55; J.F. Johnson from ’55 to ’65; G.L. Hutt from ’65 to ’85; W.R. Crews, Jr. from ‘85 to ‘95 and Bill Johns from 1995 to 2008.
“These are names from the past that are still relevant today to our community,” said Phelps. “People are going to say, ‘Yeah, I’m kin to him!’ It’s just amazing the memories of the names that have come out of the woodwork.”
Walter Johnson remembered the presidencies of Johnson and G.L. Hutt as a Peoples customer since the early fifties.
He expressed his appreciation for Peoples remaining a supportive community bank throughout the years.
“When you come into this bank…you feel more comfortable,” said Johnson on Saturday as he sat inside the lobby of Peoples’ main Montross office with Assistant Vice President Lynn Kuykendall across from him.
“A bank is just like a minister or even your family,” he said. “They approach you and if you have a problem, they get it taken care of for you as far as financial and money-wise.”
Johnson shared that Peoples was there for him when he lost his wife, Ruby, in February.
“They helped me to update things like our IRA. CDs and all my paperwork,” said Johnson. “They even came to the funeral home. They were my honorary pallbearers.”
He then turned to Kuykendall and said: “If something ever happened and you wouldn’t be here, it would worry me [because] you are something special.”
Wallace McGinness, a Montross resident and PCB customer for over 40 years, called Peoples a “friendly bank” and said it did a great job keeping the citizens informed.
“They do the best they can with this low interest we’re getting nowadays,” said McGinness, adding his impression that Peoples has kept its personal connection to its customers through remaining locally owned.
“Things do really change when you merge with larger banks,” said McGinness. “You lose your involvement somewhat in the community as well as the face that you had when you were a smaller bank.”
Although Peoples Bank of Montross rebranded as Peoples Community Bank in 1995 and grew to accommodate four additional branches in Warsaw, Dahlgren, King George and Ferry Farm in Fredericksburg, Phelps stressed Peoples’ commitment to its roots.
“Our board of directors have said more than once that, ‘We want to stay a local community bank. We don’t want to buy anybody and we don’t want to be bought out,’” said Phelps. “Yes, we want to grow a little bit, but we want to stay true to who we are.”
He added Peoples’ intent over the past 100 years to not only be a trusted financial institution, but also to partner with individuals and groups in the area.
Peoples has served the Greater Northern Neck in fighting cancer through its participation in Relay for Life.
“Our local team here in Montross has been the # 1 team for two years,” said Phelps, adding that the employees’ efforts resulted in the collection of over $12,000 within the past year.
In addition, PCB recently supplied the Town of Warsaw with a $350,000 loan to help them with the replacement of a water pump at a 0.5 percent interest rate.
“It helps the people in that community, which is where we operate as well, and we try to make good things available that way,” said Phelps. “Sometimes, it’s not about making money as much as it is just about being part of the community and doing what’s right.”
During the celebration on Saturday, Wittman presented Bailey with a proclamation recognizing Peoples for its 100 years of service to the community and declaring June 22 as “Peoples Community Bank Day.”
“This first 100 years has been a great tribute to the people of the community [and] those that are part of Peoples Community Bank,” said Wittman. “I wish you another 100 years-plus of great success and service to the community.”