Connie Campbell Retires From BB&T After 45 Years

0
493

Story and Photo by Bill Sterling
Special to the Eastern Shore Post

It was February of her senior year at Central High School in 1974 when Connie Widgeon was told by her guidance counselor, Nancy Irvin, that Irvin’s husband had mentioned he needed help at the bank. She advised the 12th grader to go see him for an interview.

Things happened pretty quickly after that.

Widgeon got the job, worked half days after school for the next four months, graduated from high school June 5 as the valedictorian of her class, married William Campbell two days later, and started work full time at the bank as soon as she returned from her honeymoon.

Today, Campbell is the vice president and market leader for the BB&T branches at Onley and Mappsville. She is the senior BB&T officer on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The last day of 2018 will be her final day with the bank after almost 45 years working with the same organization, though the name of the bank has changed a few times.

“When Melvin Irvin hired me, the bank had just changed from First National Bank to First Virginia Bank, then it became First Virginia Eastern Shore, First Virginia Tidewater, and First Virginia Hampton Roads. About 10 years ago, we changed over to BB&T,” said Campbell, sitting in her office at the Onley branch.

Campbell’s life has been all about stability and relationships. When she married her husband, four years older and also a graduate of Central High School, she moved one block over in her hometown of Painter. They still live there.

She had a hand in planning the bank’s move from downtown Onancock to the highway in Onley in 1976, and except for six years when she was manager at the Mappsville branch, she has been in the same location her entire banking career.

“When I look back, it just seems everything evolved over time,” said Campbell. “When I was still in high school, Melvin Irvin showed me how to wrap coins with flat wrappers, a method I still prefer, and I did some filing, clerical work and most anything that needed to be done. I had some wonderful mentors in Nancy Custis, Anna Hampton, and Bobby Taylor. Eventually, I became a teller.”

Campbell first became a manager 10 years after joining the bank and never thought about changing careers. “I found I really loved the experience of helping people with their banking needs. Whether it is answering a question about their account, helping them with a loan for a car or house or setting up a savings plan, it is very rewarding when you can be of some help to somebody. The customers come and go as some of the older clients pass on, but then you find yourself helping their children. The relationships both inside the bank and on the outside were the most important thing to me,” said Campbell. “That is what I will miss the most.”

And though Campbell is reserved and displays a very pleasant demeanor, she became somewhat of a barrier crasher in the banking world on the Eastern Shore. When she first joined the bank in the mid-’70s, it was a male-dominated world where women were tellers or secretaries and men were managers. “I don’t think we had a woman on our board of directors until about 10 years ago,” said Campbell.

She recalled a time after she became manager when the branch had a male lending officer, somewhat younger than she, located in the office next to hers. “Customers would come in and tell the banking associate out front they wanted to speak to the manager, pointing to the man. The associate would tell them if you want to speak to the manager, they needed to see me. It was frustrating sometimes, but I never let it bother me.”

Campbell was part of that generation who entered the working world when records were kept on paper. They used items like carbon paper and white out — now about as obsolete as eight-track tapes and vinyl records — and then had to adapt to computers while watching millennials look like whiz kids on the keyboards.

“Computers have certainly allowed us to access information more quickly today,” said Campbell. “Everything was on paper when I started, and then I remember having records on microfiche. That could also be a tedious process to locate what you needed. What has really changed is the way people bank today using their phones and their computers. It’s pretty amazing when I look back at the changes I’ve seen. I always tried to stay up with the times, but I was never afraid to ask for help when I needed it.”

Campbell also witnessed the changing landscape of banking as mergers, consolidations, and name changes developed swiftly around her. “I always made it a point never to say anything negative about another bank. Customers would come in and complain about something another bank was doing or had changed, and I would say, ‘Well, you know, all banks have their rules and regulations, just like us.’”

Campbell, who will turn 63 in early January, does not fear being bored in retirement. “I am looking forward to having time to do things I’ve been neglecting, like some rooms in the house that need attention and some yard work. I also used to do a lot of handiwork, such as crocheting, cross stitching or knitting. I would like to pick that back up.”

Campbell also wants to be available for babysitting if needed by her daughter, Amy, a special education teacher in Accomack County and married to Chris Budd. Campbell has a grandson, Blake, and a stepgranddaughter, Brooke.

There are numerous other interests as well for Campbell. She is the treasurer at Painter Garrison United Methodist Church; president of Kiwanis Club of Accomack County; longtime mayor of Painter, having served on the town council now for 30 years; and president of the Ladies Auxiliary for Painter Volunteer. Fire Co., where her husband is fire chief. He plans to retire from the maintenance department of the Accomack County School System next year, and the Campbells hope to travel as well.

Raised on the Shore by David and Annette Widgeon, with her mother passing just in the past year, Campbell always has worked hard, but also tried to give back to the community. In her teen years, she worked summers at J.E. Bundick General Store in Painter, then was the store’s gift wrapper during the Christmas season. “I would stand in one place and wrap Christmas presents all day,” recalled Campbell. “And some days there were lots of gifts.”

She is proud her bank has not only supported many local fundraising events, but also has an in-house program that has helped with both funds and labor for the Foodbank, Eastern Shore Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the public library, and other organizations.

She credits her sister, Patricia Sturgis, who retired from banking, with helping deal with many of the financial affairs following the death of their mother in the past year. They had earlier lost an older brother, Jennings, a Vietnam War veteran. Their father died in the late ‘80s. “When you lose a family member, there are times when you want to pick up the phone and talk to them before realizing they are no longer there,” said Campbell.

Looking back, Campbell said she enjoyed her career so much that the time seemed to pass very quickly. She recalled sharing a desk with Muriel Carmine and Nancy Bonniwell in the old Onancock office, with Melvin Irvin and Bobby Taylor having desks in the same room. Those cramped quarters hastened the move to the larger office in Onley two years later.

She is the only employee left with the bank who made the move from Onancock to Onley, though she noted that Debbie Moore, who also became a BB&T branch manager, was also there and retired only a few years ago.

There has been a retirement party and a host of farewells already leading into the final days of Campbell’s banking career. She said it has been an emotional time, but she clearly is looking forward to her next step in life. “A couple of people have said to me that I was their mentor and appreciated I took time to show them how to do certain things. That means a lot to me because I can remember all those people who helped me along the way.”

Campbell’s life has been all about stability and relationships. When she married her husband, four years older and also a graduate of Central High School, she moved one block over in her hometown of Painter. They still live there.

She had a hand in planning the bank’s move from downtown Onancock to the highway in Onley in 1976, and except for six years when she was manager at the Mappsville branch, she has been in the same location her entire banking career.

“When I look back, it just seems everything evolved over time,” said Campbell. “When I was still in high school, Melvin Irvin showed me how to wrap coins with flat wrappers, a method I still prefer, and I did some filing, clerical work and most anything that needed to be done. I had some wonderful mentors in Nancy Custis, Anna Hampton, and Bobby Taylor. Eventually, I became a teller.”

Campbell first became a manager 10 years after joining the bank and never thought about changing careers. “I found I really loved the experience of helping people with their banking needs. Whether it is answering a question about their account, helping them with a loan for a car or house or setting up a savings plan, it is very rewarding when you can be of some help to somebody. The customers come and go as some of the older clients pass on, but then you find yourself helping their children. The relationships both inside the bank and on the outside were the most important thing to me,” said Campbell. “That is what I will miss the most.”

And though Campbell is reserved and displays a very pleasant demeanor, she became somewhat of a barrier crasher in the banking world on the Eastern Shore. When she first joined the bank in the mid-’70s, it was a male-dominated world where women were tellers or secretaries and men were managers. “I don’t think we had a woman on our board of directors until about 10 years ago,” said Campbell.

She recalled a time after she became manager when the branch had a male lending officer, somewhat younger than she, located in the office next to hers. “Customers would come in and tell the banking associate out front they wanted to speak to the manager, pointing to the man. The associate would tell them if you want to speak to the manager, they needed to see me. It was frustrating sometimes, but I never let it bother me.”

Campbell was part of that generation who entered the working world when records were kept on paper. They used items like carbon paper and white out — now about as obsolete as eight-track tapes and vinyl records — and then had to adapt to computers while watching millennials look like whiz kids on the keyboards.

“Computers have certainly allowed us to access information more quickly today,” said Campbell. “Everything was on paper when I started, and then I remember having records on microfiche. That could also be a tedious process to locate what you needed. What has really changed is the way people bank today using their phones and their computers. It’s pretty amazing when I look back at the changes I’ve seen. I always tried to stay up with the times, but I was never afraid to ask for help when I needed it.”

Campbell also witnessed the changing landscape of banking as mergers, consolidations, and name changes developed swiftly around her. “I always made it a point never to say anything negative about another bank. Customers would come in and complain about something another bank was doing or had changed, and I would say, ‘Well, you know, all banks have their rules and regulations, just like us.’”

Campbell, who will turn 63 in early January, does not fear being bored in retirement. “I am looking forward to having time to do things I’ve been neglecting, like some rooms in the house that need attention and some yard work. I also used to do a lot of handiwork, such as crocheting, cross stitching or knitting. I would like to pick that back up.”

Campbell also wants to be available for babysitting if needed by her daughter, Amy, a special education teacher in Accomack County and married to Chris Budd. Campbell has a grandson, Blake, and a stepgranddaughter, Brooke.

There are numerous other interests as well for Campbell. She is the treasurer at Painter Garrison United Methodist Church; president of Kiwanis Club of Accomack County; longtime mayor of Painter, having served on the town council now for 30 years; and president of the Ladies Auxiliary for Painter Volunteer. Fire Co., where her husband is fire chief. He plans to retire from the maintenance department of the Accomack County School System next year, and the Campbells hope to travel as well.

Raised on the Shore by David and Annette Widgeon, with her mother passing just in the past year, Campbell always has worked hard, but also tried to give back to the community. In her teen years, she worked summers at J.E. Bundick General Store in Painter, then was the store’s gift wrapper during the Christmas season. “I would stand in one place and wrap Christmas presents all day,” recalled Campbell. “And some days there were lots of gifts.”

She is proud her bank has not only supported many local fundraising events, but also has an in-house program that has helped with both funds and labor for the Foodbank, Eastern Shore Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the public library, and other organizations.

She credits her sister, Patricia Sturgis, who retired from banking, with helping deal with many of the financial affairs following the death of their mother in the past year. They had earlier lost an older brother, Jennings, a Vietnam War veteran. Their father died in the late ‘80s. “When you lose a family member, there are times when you want to pick up the phone and talk to them before realizing they are no longer there,” said Campbell.

Looking back, Campbell said she enjoyed her career so much that the time seemed to pass very quickly. She recalled sharing a desk with Muriel Carmine and Nancy Bonniwell in the old Onancock office, with Melvin Irvin and Bobby Taylor having desks in the same room. Those cramped quarters hastened the move to the larger office in Onley two years later.

She is the only employee left with the bank who made the move from Onancock to Onley, though she noted that Debbie Moore, who also became a BB&T branch manager, was also there and retired only a few years ago.

There has been a retirement party and a host of farewells already leading into the final days of Campbell’s banking career. She said it has been an emotional time, but she clearly is looking forward to her next step in life. “A couple of people have said to me that I was their mentor and appreciated I took time to show them how to do certain things. That means a lot to me because I can remember all those people who helped me along the way.”