2008-05-02 / Local News

Ledford's lifelong banking career comes to an end

By JOE L. HUGHES II Ledger Staff Writer joe@gaffneyledger.com

Jack Ledford signs off on a document at his office at Palmetto Bank on Wednesday as he wraps up his final day in the banking industry. Jack Ledford signs off on a document at his office at Palmetto Bank on Wednesday as he wraps up his final day in the banking industry. As a 19-year-old not long out of high school in 1955, Jack Ledford believed the path of life was clearly taking him in the direction of the U.S. Air Force, where he aspired to become a jet pilot.

"During that time it had just become popular to be a pilot of one of the (Air Force's) jets," Ledford said. "I had taken all of the tests and was ready to get to work."

While ready to take flight, the military does not always work according to a recruit's schedule. Leford, though he had yet to sign papers committing him to the service, was forced to wait in the wings.

Not wanting to sit around for his call to duty, Ledford instead chose to look for something to do with his time. He found a job he would come to love for the next 53 years.

Ledford walked into his office at the Palmetto Bank in Gaffney for the final time Wednesday, closing out more than half century of serving the banking needs of customers in Spartanburg and Cherokee counties.

"The good Lord blessed me with the health and ability to enjoy my work, which is making life easier for those who come through the door," Ledford said. "It was definitely a reward to be able to help and offer people financial advice."

State Rep. Dennis Moss (DCherokee) and Gaffney Mayor Henry Jolly honored Ledford for his service to the bank and the community during his final day on the job Wednesday.

The local banker's first job was at C&S Bank in Spartanburg in 1955, moving to the bank's branch in Gaffney in 1971. Ledford would join the First Union Bank staff in 1988, staying under its umbrella for eight years before it became Palmetto Bank.

As he looked back over the years, Ledford remembers how things used to be in the world of banking, with business being conducted manually rather than by computer as well as life without automatic teller machines (ATM).

"Technology had yet to make as much of an impact on how people did things," Ledford said. "At the time I began, the concept of the drive-through line has just been created. Things have definitely come a long way since then." Ledford served as a financial advisor for much of his time in the banking industry, helping customers find loans enabling them to finance cars and other high-priced items. Being able to help clients with their business helped the banker build relationships in and out of the office.

"I learned to like working with people and helping them ... something I would not have been able to do in the Air Force," Ledford said. "Sometimes there are customers whose fathers and grandfathers worked with me. To be able to build relationships like that over the years is truly special."

Now that he no longer has to report in the morning, Ledford said he will spend much of his time around the house with his wife of 49 years, Jo, taking quality time out for vacations along with frequent trips to the golf course. He also said he will quickly adapt to "the life of being able to wake up when I want to and no longer worry about the date.

"I might just throw away the calendar," Ledford said.

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