Mary Gemes Hangs Up Hat At Hawthorn

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
 After 38 years of working in the banking industry, Hawthorn Bank vice president Mary Gemes is retiring on Friday, November 2.
Mary was hired as a bank teller by Osage Valley Bank president Orla Crudginton back in July of 1975.
“I really didn’t have any training except for Mrs. Louise Campbell’s classes at Warsaw High School, but I learned on the job,” said Mary.
Mary took off a few years when her children were born but returned to the bank in 1980 where she would continue to work for the remainder of her career.
Mary has seen many changes in banking during the past 38 years.  One of the biggest changes was when Mr. Crudginton retired and sold the bank to Larry Beach.  Later the bank was sold again and the name was changed from Osage Valley Bank to Hawthorn Bank.
Although Mary never left the bank, the position of president of the bank changed several times from Orla Crudginton to Larry Beach to Betty Beach to the now head man, Chuck Allcorn.
As well as working for several different bosses, Mary also worked with many special people as well.  “When I started in the bookkeeping department, I worked with Deanna Spencer, Trixie Barshe, Jannelle DeLong and Susie Barb,” said Mary.  “We posted and filed every check by hand.  In fact, if we were behind, the tellers such as Blondean Arnett would come back and help us as well.”
Banking has changed as well over the past 38 years.
“When I went to work for Osage Valley Bank, the only bank was downtown in a building which had been a bank for many years,” Mary said.  “Everything was manual.  We counted checks by hand.  We prepared all the statements and mailed them right here in town.  In fact, our customers could come into the bank, pick up what we called counter checks and just fill in the name of the bank.  I remember one elderly man who refused to buy personalized checks when we switched over to personalized checks.  He said he had never paid for a check that was the bank’s responsibility.  I think the bank just bought his checks and gave them to him because he was so upset by the change.”
Change, however, comes to every company and change is something all employees have to accept.  Mary commented that when the bank switched to using computers it was a big change for all the employees; however, she said that having all the information on the computer makes her job much easier.
Even the hours of the bank have changed since Mary began. “We use to open from 9 to 3 and we were closed on Thursday because we had to be open on Saturday from 9 to 3 because that was when the farmers came to town,” Mary said.
Mary has also held several positions in the bank from teller to bookkeeper to assistant cashier to vice president of operations.
“I applied for a job at the bank because I enjoyed bookkeeping and I grew up on a farm and I knew I didn’t want to work on a farm,” Mary said.
Mary’s family (Breshears) lived on a farm near Fairfield that was covered by Truman Lake after the dam was built.
“There were 7 of us and there was always plenty of work on the farm,” said Mary.  “We were 17 miles from town so we rode the bus to school and there weren’t many trips to town.”
Mary and her high school sweetheart Mike also raised a large family with 6 children, Teresa, Michael, Todd, Neil, Levi and Chad.  Mike and Mary have been married 50 years and now boast a family of 12 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.
Employees of Hawthorn Bank will be celebrating Mary’s career on her last day Friday, so customers are urged to come by and have refreshments in the afternoon and congratulate Mary on her 38 years with the bank.