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Retiring banker reflects on lengthy career
Reception in her honor set for Saturday
Joyce Seay will retire Friday after working in the banking industry for 47 years. Here, she visits with Joel Stamps, branch manager of the Laurel Springs Bank of America location. - photo by Crystal Ledford

If you’re going

* What: Public reception honoring Joyce Seay’s 47 years of service

* When: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday

* Where: Laurel Springs Bank of America, 3165 Peachtree Pkwy.

* Cost: Free

SOUTH FORSYTH -- The year 1967 was big for Joyce Martin Seay.

In February of that year she started a job with what was then called Bank of Cumming.

“I was 17. I lacked 10 days being 18 and I was a senior in high school,” Seay recalled Tuesday in her office at the Laurel Springs Bank of America in south Forsyth.

“Then in June of that year, I graduated from Forsyth County High School, and in December I married my high school sweetheart, Roger Seay.

“It was a busy year.”

Despite the decades that have passed, Seay, 65, remains a committed wife to Roger, with whom she shares three grown children and five grandchildren, as well as to the banking industry. But her professional marriage will come to an end Friday as she retires.

“I’m going to miss all my customers and the team here, they’re all great to work with,” Seay said. “But after 47 years, I feel like I’ve done my duty.”

Her branch manager, Joel Stamps, agreed and noted that filling her shoes will be tough.

“She’s been a wealth of knowledge,” he said. “Her experience just brings so much help to all the employees here and to the customers.

“All the customers know her, love her, know her by her first name. They just think the world of her.”

Seay said she’s been blessed with good customers all throughout her career, which included a variety of roles. She twice served as a branch manager and currently is the Laurel Springs’ senior personal banker, helping open new accounts and providing various other forms of service.

While customers have remained a positive part of her life, she said many things have changed over the years in the field.

“When I started it was Bank of Cumming and then we became Bank South in 1984, NationsBank in 1995 and Bank of America in 1999,” she said. “So I’ve been through four name changes, but haven’t left the company.”

Her career also took her from the original location in Cumming to sites in Gainesville and Dawsonville before returning to Forsyth County at the Laurel Springs location.

Seay has also seen numerous changes in technology over the years. She recalled how everything was done by hand when she began her career, which she said was a direct result of taking part in a high school vocational career program.

“When I started, we weren’t on computers,” she said. “We had these giant bookkeeping machines ... and we manually posted checks to the ledger sheets. We manually filed checks, manually printed statements, manually pulled checks out of the drawer and mailed statements.

“I know on business day, the last day of the month … I can remember working until 8, 9, 10 o’clock at night getting business statements ready.”

She said when computers arrived in the late 1980s, all the employees were fearful.

“We thought that was going to be awful and it ended up being the greatest thing that ever happened,” she said. “We had outgrown ourselves, you know, we just couldn’t do all the work anymore [by hand].”

Now Seay is ready for another big transition in her life. She’s looking forward to spending more time with her family — children Allison and Tommy Francis, Tim and Kelly Seay and Justin Seay; and grandchildren Elijah, Emma and John Thomas Francis, and Karly and Clay Seay.

“My oldest grandson is a senior at North Forsyth High School and all the others are really into sports, so I’m excited about having more time to go to all their games,” she said.

She’s also looking forward to having more time for community involvement with her church, Oak Grove Baptist, of which she’s been a member since 1959, and with the Sawnee-Cumming Optimist Club, where she’s been a member for more than 15 years.

Seay is also a mentor at Coal Mountain Elementary School. She’s been a part of that program since it began in 1998.

She said her husband has occasionally suggested they move to Florida in their retirement.

“And I’ll say I’m not leaving my kids and grandkids,” she said. “I have just always been happy here and all my kids and grandkids live close by and I wouldn’t want to leave them now.”

Her co-workers are hoping she’ll also stop back by for a visit.

“Joyce goes out of her way for anybody. She would pretty much give you the shirt off her back if you needed it,” said co-worker Tim Greaves. “She always thinks of other people first before herself. We’re going to miss her.”

Her customers are going to miss her too it seems.

Stamps said many of them have called or stopped by to tell her good-bye.

Erla Bergner, who has been a customer of Seay’s for the past six years, wished her well on Tuesday.

“You can’t top her,” Bergner said. “She has always been the kind of person you hope you run into in a bank or anywhere for that matter. I just can’t praise her enough.”

All of her customers from throughout her years of service are invited to come by the bank from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday for a reception in her honor.

A private event for Seay’s family and former bank associates will follow.

Linda Tharp, another co-worker who organized the activities, said she’s hoping for a great turnout.

“Joyce has done so much for so many people, we really want to make her feel special on Saturday,” she said.

No doubt things will be a little different at the bank location next week, Greaves said.

“You just don’t see somebody with a company for 47 years. You’re lucky nowadays to see someone with a company for three years,” he said. “We look up to Joyce a lot because she knows so much.

“So it’s definitely going to be different not seeing her here on Monday.”