Cathy Morgan bids banking farewell after 40 years

After a long and varied career in banking, Cathy Morgan retires Aug. 8 from her position as Creswell branch manager for Banner Bank. Cottage Grove Branch Manager Jim Gilroy will now assume managerial duties for the Creswell branch as well. Gini Davis/The Creswell Chronicle

After 40 years in the banking industry – most of it right here in Creswell – Cathy Morgan retires next week as Creswell branch manager for Banner Bank.
It’s a bittersweet transition for Morgan, who said she’s found her work and the relationships she’s formed very fulfilling but looks forward to refocusing her time and energy in retirement.
”My relationships with my co-workers and our clients are my favorite memories,” Morgan said, adding that as she shifts away from the regular workday week, ”I am going to do my best to find my ‘new normal’ as soon as possible.”
Morgan has seen the banking industry transform dramatically during her career, which began in October 1979, when at age 25 she began working as a teller for what was then the Community Bank of Creswell.
”The changes have been enormous: When I started banking, you hand-filed checks – and there were a lot of checks, no debit cards and not very much automated activity,” Morgan said.
At that time, she noted, tellers processed so many checks that they knew their clients’ signatures well; now, new clients often forego checks entirely in favor of automated/online banking.
”The incredible gains in automation are the most surprising,” she said. ”Who thought you would be able to take a picture of your check with your phone and deposit it into your account that way?”
She’s seen women’s roles in banking evolve as well: ”(It) has changed for the better; we have many more women in positions of authority now,” said Morgan, who doesn’t underestimate the value of such women serving as role models and mentors to younger women.
”I’ve benefited from several different mentors over the years, and I hope that I’ve been a positive influence on some of my co-workers,” she said.
Indeed, she has. Customer service manager, Stephanie Crapser, who’s worked with Morgan for 18 years, said ”I wish I could work with her for 18 more.” Morgan, she said, has ”basically taught me everything I know; I just can’t say enough good things about her as a teacher, a mentor.”
Teller Kelly Pittenger echoes that sentiment. In her 28 years with Morgan, ”I just have learned so much from her. I’d worked in offices before, but not banks; she’s taught me everything I know about banking.”
Morgan’s road to branch manager for Banner Bank has not been without its twists, turns and bumps, but overall, it has been a journey of homecoming.
She was on leave, caring for her daughter after a bad car accident in 1989, when Siuslaw Bank purchased Community Bank of Creswell. Fortunately, ”they honored the fact that I was a leave-of-absence and I returned to work in January 1990 for Siuslaw,” she said.
Within a year, Morgan was promoted from Creswell branch teller to operations supervisor at Siuslaw’s Cottage Grove branch. It was in that capacity that she hired Pittenger, in 1991.
”I was the first person she hired in her supervisor position, and I knew her as a customer first,” Pittenger said.
A year later, the operations supervisor position opened up in Creswell, ”and I was able to come back to my home base,” Morgan said.
Morgan left Siuslaw Bank and went to work for the City of Creswell in 2000, the year Ron Hanson was retiring from his long career as city manager. Less than a year later, Siuslaw offered her the position of branch manager in Pleasant Hill.
”I had missed my bank family, so I came back to work with full benefits still accrued,” Morgan said. Then, in 2012, ”I was able to come full circle and return to Creswell as branch manager.”
Banner Bank, headquartered in Walla Walla, Wash., acquired the 10-branch, Florence, Oregon-headquartered Siuslaw Bank in 2015, and Morgan has continued as Creswell branch manager under Banner.
In that capacity, Morgan has been responsible for outside-the-branch calling, coaching staff and documenting activities. In smaller offices, she said, the public may even find the branch manager opening accounts or helping in a teller window. But for at least the past couple of years, she’s been able to focus more on that mentorship role she values so highly, with all her staff.
”I’m fortunate to have long-term and knowledgeable staff at both Pleasant Hill and Creswell branches so I could serve more as a mentor this last year – helping cross-train and promote skill development,” Morgan said. ”Sometimes people believe in hoarding their knowledge, but I believe that training and educating the staff is empowering for both people.”
With a forward-thinking, generous-minded philosophy like that, it’s no wonder that in 2018, Creswell Chamber of Commerce recognized Morgan as its Citizen of the Year.
Both personally and through her leadership at Banner Bank and with their support, Morgan has ”generously supported programs helping people in need in Creswell,” said Steve Carmichael, Cottage Grove Family Relief Nursery board chair. He also cited her support of the community foundation Creswell First!. ”She is an inspiration to us all.”
In the end, it isn’t personal accolades that matter to Morgan, it’s the relationships forged over the years with co-workers, clients and her community.
”I am so lucky to have these relationships,” Morgan said. ”I’ve worked with some of my co-workers for over 20 years, and I get to see grandchildren of people I waited on in my 20s.”
And while she’s also dedicated time over the years to cherished causes, Morgan plans – at least in early retirement – to focus more closely on the home front.
”I have so many things around my house that I’ve longed to have the time and energy to do that I’m excited to work through some of those,” she said.
But first, there are goodbyes to be said. The public is invited to attend a three-day, drop-in retirement reception for Morgan, Aug. 5-7 at the Banner Bank Creswell Branch, 265 E Oregon Ave.
It’s an opportunity to shower Morgan – described by Crapser as ”the heart of the branch” – one last time, at least in her professional capacity, with that ”Friendly City” warmth she’s appreciated and valued so highly.
”All the support and kindnesses shown to me by our community and co-workers is what has made my 40 years here fly by and given me a wealth of memories,” Morgan said.



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