Steamboat Springs When a check was tossed onto Geneva's desk, a secretary at Routt County National Bank, by some young cocky man, she turned the check to see it clearly. It was written out to her for the amount of one date and signed. She nodded and said, "I think I can take care of this." This was the beginning of her courtship with her future husband, Jack Taylor, and only one of the memories she'll keep of her career working in the banks of Steamboat Springs. Friday was the last day of Geneva's banking career and marks the beginning of her retirement.
Geneva's childhood had little to do with banking but taught her how to work hard. She was born in Scott City, Kan., and moved with her family to Colorado Springs at the age of 3 where they had a dairy farm. She had many chores and milked the diary cows each day before and after school. They moved to Toponas when she was 8 and later moved to Yampa. In 1959, she graduated from Yampa Union High School. She worked at the Harbor Hotel as a waitress and front desk clerk to earn money for college. When she had enough money saved, she went to Parks Business School in Denver and received her secretary's business certificate for the two-year program in nine months.
When she returned to Steamboat in 1961, there were only two places for Geneva to find employment in town: Yampa Valley Electric and Routt County National Bank.
Geneva made her decision to work at the bank after she met Del Scott, president of the bank at the time. "He was a man of wisdom and complete honesty. I can't say enough good about him." In those days, banking required more intuition and less paperwork. Appointments were not needed. When people wanted a loan, they came to the bank and spoke with an officer and the loan was processed on the same day. There were no credit checks. But, according to Geneva, they didn't need any. "Del could determine when he was sitting across from someone at his desk if they were 'true blue.' He just had this way of knowing." Banking then was solely a face-to-face matter, settled with a handshake or a nod of the head. Most loans were agriculturally based, which is no longer the case today, she said.
Geneva was Scott's last executive secretary before he retired in 1984. Shortly after his retirement, he and his wife died of carbon monoxide poisoning. Geneva says she still uses Scott's two basic principles of banking today: do everything possible to protect the depositor's money and always put yourself in the customer's shoes.
When Geneva left the bank Friday, she completed 39 years of service in the banks of Steamboat. She started out working for Routt County National Bank in September 1961 and stayed with the same company for 31 years. The bank changed management over the years to IntraWest, United, Norwest and Wells Fargo Bank. She was promoted in 1985 to senior vice president at Intrawest and was hired as vice president and head of the loan department at Bank Northwest (Community First) for her final eight years of banking.
She said the best part of her job has been giving others the opportunity to fulfill their own dreams.
"Nothing is more rewarding than giving a couple a loan to build or purchase their first home," Geneva said.
Her efforts to help others extend outside of her job. She manages the Mountain View Manor and Selbe senior citizen apartments. Geneva has been in charge of the finances for both the board and apartments since 1973, when the apartments on Pine Street were being built. She began serving on the board of Routt County Foundation for Senior Citizens in 1983. She provided the impetus for the building of the Selbe senior apartments and the Scott Community Center in 1990. When Geneva retires, she said she plans on continuing her work with the seniors. She would like to see the construction of another unit for seniors who do not meet the present financial eligibility requirements at other apartments available.
The constant devotion Geneva has given to seniors was one of the reasons she won the Hazie Werner Award in 1998 for her outstanding community service. She was recently nominated for Colorado Site Manager of the Year through USDA rural development. She credits her success and the awards she has won to those who helped her along the way, and gave her the opportunity to work in the banks.
Geneva said she has no regrets about choosing a banking career but felt if she would have had more money for college, she would have pursued a career teaching music. Although she thinks in retirement, she may find the time to teach at the Euzoa Bible Church. She said she feels her wish to have been a teacher has been lived out by her daughter.
"Our life dreams are fulfilled by our children," Geneva said. Her daughter, Vicki, teaches music in Yuma where she lives with her husband Trent and their two children, Brianna and Dakin.
Geneva said she will miss her clients, people she's worked with for years. Walking out of her office Friday afternoon was hard, but Geneva said she is looking forward to spending more time with her husband, Jack, planting a garden, taking piano lessons, quilting and mostly driving to Yuma to see her grandchildren.