“People just love her,” said Renasant Division President B.B. Hosch. “She has an unbelievable following. People will wait just to see her.”
And the people willing to wait to talk to Stanford include second and third generations of families she’s seen during her golden career at Renasant, a career she intends to extend as long as possible.
“I’m 68, but I don’t have a time set for myself to retire,” she said. “As long as my bank is OK with what I’m doing and as long as I feel like I’m making a contribution, that’s how long I’m going to stay.”
A summer job
Stanford’s introduction to banking began during her senior year in high school in Shannon.
Her principal took her to Peoples Bank and Trust Co.’s Shannon branch, where she began a part-time job during school.
Peoples changed its name to Renasant in 2005.
“I was just going to work during the summer, and that would be all,” she said. “I had planned to go back to school in the fall.”
The bank closed at 2 every afternoon, allowing Stanford to go back to school, where she had dreamed of eventually becoming a teacher.
But the banking bug bit her. Hard.
Stanford did a little of everything, learning about everybody’s job and meeting many people along the way.
“This is what I wanted to do,” she said. “It’s community service. It’s being able to work with clients, and even if you have to say no sometimes, it’s about helping them to understand what’s happening.
“I just love working with people.”
Plenty of admirers
Stanford is a fountain of knowledge often tapped by Renasant employees. After 50 years of learning the ins and outs of banking, she is often the first – and only – source of information.
“She is very knowledgeable, and our employees across Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama call her if they need to find out something,” said Patsy Bennett, a teller at Renasant’s downtown office. “She’s THE information resource for a lot of people. I’ve been here 28 years, and there’s no one else like her – she’s really unique.
“And I don’t know of anybody anywhere that worked for the same company for 50 years. It’s incredible.”
Hosch said her admirers in the bank span all ages and titles.
“The thing that sets a bank apart from others is its people, and she is one of the best people we have,” he said.
At a reception last week at the bank, Stanford’s co-workers and clients helped celebrate her golden anniversary with Renasant.
She also received a certificate from the Mississippi Bankers Association honoring her service and welcoming her to the “50 Year Club.”
Many in Renasant wouldn’t mind if she stuck around for another 25 years or so.
“There are a lot of people who hope they retire before she does,” Bosch said with a laugh.
‘I love my bank’
Stanford is as much a part of Renasant as Renasant is a part of her. It has been a mutually beneficial relationship that she said she treasures.
“I love my bank,” she said. “I can never repay them for what they’ve done for me. They’ve given opportunities to advance, they’ve given me something more than a job. This is a place I love to come to work at every day.”
And she definitely puts the service in “customer service.”
As the head of the bank’s Prime Time program for seniors, Stanford often visits customers who otherwise wouldn’t be able to visit her in person.
When she’s not busy with banking, she’ll most likely be seen working with the Boy Scouts and helping to teach Sunday school classes.
It seems that her service to people extends far beyond the walls of the bank.
“We’re put on this earth to help other people, and it’s up to us to make a positive contribution,” Stanford said.
And in a nutshell, that is Ann Stanford. Nothing fake, nothing pretentious. What you see is what you get.
Brenda Jackson, whose desk sits next to Stanford, said that nothing has changed in the 22 years she’s known her.
“She’s real easy-going, she’s concerned about the bank and our customers,” Jackson said. “For Ann, it’s not just a job – it’s her life.”
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.