retiring trust officer recalls 33-year career

The Asheville Citizen, July 8, 1981

When Louisa C. "Lisa" Reynolds joined Wachovia Bank and Trust Co. in 1936 as a secretary, the job of trust officer seemed far out of reach.

But when she retired recently after 33 years of service, she had attained the position of assistant vice president. She was one of the first trust officers to become trust officer for the Wachovia Bank system and the first Wachovia woman employee in Asheville to reach that rank.

"I was hired just after the Depression and I was tickled to get a job as a secretary in the Trust Department. Many people didn't have jobs at all."

"A lot of changes have taken place since that time. All my banking experience has been in the Trust Department," she said.

Mrs. Reynolds graduated from Weaver College, a junior college in Weaverville, and completed a business course at Brevard College.

"At that time I simply was considering getting a job as a secretary, not a career. I couldn't conceive a career in banking for a woman," she said.

"I married A. C. "Al" Reynolds Jr. in 1938. Three years later I resigned my job to raise a family. Al died in 1945 while serving in the U. S. Army, and I returned to work in 1951. The trust office had grown tremendously during the 12 years I was away. The department had quadrupled in size, and opportunities for advancement had unfolded in the meantime. I was elected assistant trust officer in 1967 and assistant vice president in 1972," Mrs. Reynolds said.

The Trust Department settles estates as directed by wills and it administers living trusts and testamentary trusts. Mrs. Reynolds said that during 30 years in the TD, she found that "there is little bickering in families over inheritances. That speaks well for people. No two cases are alike. One of the greatest rewards in the Trust Department is the closeness between the trust officer and the customer. You get involved. You are happy when the customers are happy and you feel for them when they're unhappy," she explained.

Did being a woman present any professional problems to Mrs. Reynolds?

"No. My employers and customers have always accepted me as a professional because of my special interest in the work."

Does she have any advice for women who are looking for careers in banking and trust work?

"You must know a lot about investments, taxes and real estate management. You also have to have a knack for details, not be afraid of work, not be contented with routine, and expect to work beyond normal business hours."

When Lisa first went back to work at the bank, all the tellers were men. When she went back, most of the tellers were women. There was a great improvement in office equipment but all typewriters were still manual and additional copies were typed.

"The copying machines then came into being and we thought it was marvelous not to have all those copies to type. Now the computer is a great improvement over that," she said.

"The work is fascinating," she said. "You know you are providing a service and people you work with are extremely nice."

Mrs. Reynolds is a charter member of the Altrusa Club of Asheville and the Business and Professional Women's Club. A native of Georgia, she has two sons and three grandchildren.

Needlepoint, readings, entertaining, and traveling are her hobbies but she says she hasn't had much time for them during her working years. She expects to renew her interest in them later this summer.