By Henry Lane Hull
This coming week the Northern Neck will be celebrating the birthdays of two of its greatest financial geniuses, two ladies who have made indelible marks on the banking industry in our area. For many individuals the names of Dianne Gutknecht and Maxine Carter were synonymous with professionalism and personal service throughout the course of their careers. Both now have retired after over three decades in the field, but the standards they set remain as happy memories for their many clients.
For quite some years my friend Bobby Crowther, also now retired after a lifetime career in the automobile industry, and I have tried to one-up each other in singing the praises of Diane. Her level of thoughtfulness from the earliest days of her entry into the world of banking through her service as branch manager at two different locations was constant and never failing.
Her memory for detail is extraordinary, which has been a key factor in her success. She could recall the colors that each patron liked for his or her checkbook, always making certain that she had what the person desired on hand. She was stoic and resolute in handling any questions that arose, always conducting herself in such a cheerful manner that the customer was not only satisfied, but happily grateful as well for her thoughtful concern.
Diane is a deep thinker, whether at her desk or in extracurricular activities. In her personal life, she has an abiding interest in learning and is a bright light in classes she has taken at her church, always asking the right questions and making the poignant observations that helped direct the sessions.
Bobby Crowther and I have agreed to a Mexican standoff, admitting that neither of us could top the other in expressing our admiration for Diane. She has been a steadfast proponent of good will throughout her industry.
Wednesday will be a breather day between Diane’s birthday on Tuesday and Maxine’s on Thursday. In retirement Maxine remains a pillar of integrity after her long years of banking service. IBM, Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs never were able to produce a computer that could tabulate figures as quickly or proficiently as Maxine. She is a genuine mathematical whiz and she delights in performing calculations. Whereas others might find frustration in working with amounts, Maxine always was enthusiastic in bringing the end result to balance.
If a customer had been unable to figure a checkbook balance, Maxine found pleasure and fulfillment in putting the numbers in order. As with Diane, Maxine is a person of impeccable integrity, granted only what one would expect in a banker, who set the tone and the example for those who worked under her supervision.
Maxine chose a different career course from that of her late mother, Mrs. Claudine Smith, who remains renowned in the Northern Neck for her service as a midwife, delivering over 300 babies in the course of her 30-year career and assisting in the delivery of over 200 others. Maxine once said working with figures was easy compared to what her mother did.
Stylish hats and elegant attire are also trademarks of Maxine’s presence. At a recent reception I told her that initially I had thought some Hollywood star was visiting the Northern Neck until she turned around, and I realized that it was one of our own Northern Neck stars.
Both Diane and Maxine have made passage through life better and of higher quality for untold individuals who came to rely on them in making their most important financial decisions. They each exuded trust and security in their dealings with their customers, who, more accurately, should be called their friends.
Happy Retirement and Happy Birthday to Diane and to Maxine!
“Ad multos annos!”