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Over the years there have been a number of business and industries that have played a major role in shaping the history of Gleason. As bank President Bob Owen noted in 1987, Gleason has been blessed with an outstanding clay industry, resulting in it being considered the "ball clay mining capitol of the world", as well as a thriving sweet potato industry that ships their products all over the United States.


In his typically generous style, Mr. Owen highlighted the fact that that the success and achievements of the Bank of Gleason over the years would not have been possible without the contributions of these and other local businesses. That said, it is clear that the locally-owned, independent, home-town-community Bank of Gleason, founded in 1901, has now been the cornerstone of the Gleason community for the last 115 years .


Starting from humble beginnings in 1901, capable leaders have ushered the Bank of Gleason through good and bad times, including World Wars I and II  and the Great Depression - when the Bank of Gleason managed to keep its doors open while other banks in the area were forced to close.


Over the years, this home-town community Bank has continued to prosper, with the Bank of Gleason now being seen as one of the strongest banks in the State of Tennessee, with total resources currently exceeding $123,000,000. 


As has been the case with other  long-standing Gleason businesses, old-timers will recall that the Bank of Gleason has served its customers from several locations, with the first banking establishment being located on Front street in the building where Jozelle's Beauty Shop is now located - with Mr. A.G. Brummitt serving as President. If you were to happen to stop by and chat a bit with Mary Margaret Beasley or one of the other beauticians at Jozelle's you could still see the original old vault used by the Bank of Gleason - looking a lot like it did back in the early 1900's.


A  brief history of the Bank of Gleason, edited by Alan Owen in 1987, notes that early in 1930 discussions began regarding a possible merger between the Bank of Gleason  and the Farmers & Citizens bank, which was at that time located at the corner of Front and Main Streets. The merger was finalized on December 31, 1930. The merger specified that the merged banks would operate according to the original charter of the Bank of Gleason and would be known as the Bank of Gleason. Dr. R.W. Bandy was named as President and remained in that role until his death in 1936. Mr. Carl Parks was named as his successor in 1937 and served in this role until 1965.


After the completion of the merger, the Bank of Gleason remained at it's original location until 1940, at which time it moved from its original site to the building that had previously been occupied by the Farmers & Citizens Bank - on the corner of Front and Main streets. The Bank remained at that location until 1963, when the it moved across the street to 203 Main Street where it is currently located.


In 1989, the bank was renovated, with the 1963 structure being combined with an adjacent building, which had housed the bookkeeping department since 1971. Another structure  between the bank and the Gleason Superette, had been demolished in 1978 to create a much needed drive-through facility.


The Bank of Gleason opened a branch office in McKenzie in 1990 at 105 South Highland Drive in the Highland Mall. Under the leadership of  President Curtis Mayo, a new facility was erected in McKenzie in 1998, at 15865 North Highland Drive, to house the rapidly growing branch office.


Recent years have ushered in a number of significant changes at the Bank of Gleason. Some have been structural, while others have had to do with technological advances that have increased the range and types of services the Bank has been able to provide.


Structural changes have included the acquisition of a new bookkeeping vault,  an expansion of the Bookkeeping Department, and increasing the number of drive-through windows. Changes having to do with technological advances have involved  purchasing of a new "in house" computer system and  providing a new 24-hour automated teller system (ATM). The technological advances have made it possible to provide Internet Banking services with online Bill Pay capabilities for Bank of Gleason customers (including those who are out of town). These options are provided at no cost to the customer.


From its early beginnings, Bank of Gleason employees have taken pride in serving the local community, always being mindful that it is a privilege to serve the banking needs of those in their own hometown. This is highlighted by the words of some of those working at the bank over 50 years ago when asked to suggest slogans descriptive of the Bank of Gleason for an article being written about the bank. Two of these responses were provided by Bob Owen and Curtis Mayo. Bob Owen noted "Our bank has prospered because of service to our farmers, merchants, business men, churches, schools, citizens and our support to our local community and area - and through their loyal support to this bank." Curtis Mayo stated "No customer need too small"; "No transaction too large" and "For 62 years we have stayed and paid". These words, provided some 52 years ago, still reflect views  that Bank of Gleason employees have regarding serving citizens of the City of Gleason.


Regarding the above quote by Mr. Bob Owen pertaining to the banks dedication to supporting the local community, it should be noted that the Bank's strong support for the Gleason community still holds true. The Bank's leadership as always been attuned to community needs and over the years they have frequently responded, without fanfare, through unsolicited donations to various organizations, by providing support for families in need, by supporting  Gleason School athletic teams, and by their support for a wide range of other worthy causes.


As the Bank of Gleason has continue to grow and expand its services over the years, the focus of the bank has continued to be on providing friendly service and meeting the customers financial needs. Here, the Bank of Gleason provides full-service banking for the Gleason community and those in the surrounding area.


Whether the service is opening a checking or savings account and getting a new Visa credit card or getting a loan, services at the Bank of Gleason are focused on meeting the unique individual needs of the customer.


Loans are available to meet a full range of needs. These include loans for farmers who need new farm equipment, small business loans, loans for new business ventures, residential real estate loans, home improvement loans, construction loans, commercial/industrial real estate loans, loans for a car or boat, and line of credit loans, as well as loans for individuals who may simply need a personal loan during difficult times.


As it relates to the type of service that has been the hallmark of the Bank of Gleason over the years,  this quote from the Bank of Gleason website tells it all: "We aren't the largest bank in the area, but we strive to give the best personalized service to our customers. Our employees know you by name and are never too busy to help." - After all, isn't that what hometown banking is all about ? (Story by Jim Johnson)



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