BROWNSTOWN — After graduating from Brownstown Central High School in 1974, Pattie Lubker and Debbie Helwig began working at The Peoples Bank in Brownstown.
The twin sisters both started in bookkeeping and later switched to the teller position. Pattie then became head teller, and Debbie worked in customer service.
Since they started at the same time, they decided to retire at the same time, too.
Oct. 31 — Halloween — will be their last day on the payroll. That’s no trick. It will be a treat for both of them to enjoy a well-deserved retirement.
Pattie will wrap up 47 years at the bank, while Debbie will finish with 38.
“It has all been great here,” Pattie said. “It has always been like a family. You never felt uncomfortable, and I enjoyed working here this many years. It was very good.”
Debbie would have had the same amount of years as her sister, but she chose to take some time off to raise her two children.
“It has been really great, I’ll tell you that,” she said. “Don (Norman) and Mark (Norman) both have always put family first. They’ve both treated us very well. You just don’t find employers that let their people put their kids and their family first. I could always count on them to be there for you.”
Mark Norman, who is the current president of the bank and son of Don, the previous president, said an open house is planned for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, giving current and former employees and customers a chance to share their well-wishes with the sisters.
Over the years, Mark said The Peoples Bank has been very lucky to have people make a career there, and it’s hard to replace their years of experience.
“In a sense, 47 years they’ve been a part of the bank. Even though (Debbie) was home taking care of the kids, she was still a part of our family,” Mark said. “This is how I was taught by my dad, that I run this place as a family. When I hired you in or Dad hired you in, this was family. You become a family member. That’s the way Dad operated. That’s the way I continue to operate it.”
After high school, Pattie said she and her sister wanted to get into banking, so they submitted applications at different banks.
“Not thinking that we would get on that soon, but we thought we might be off for the summer,” Pattie said, smiling.
Mark said his father told him when Pattie came into his office for an interview, he said, “Don’t you have a twin?” When she replied “Yes,” Don said, “I want to hire her, too.”
Pattie was happy to land a job so soon.
“My parents always banked there,” she said of The Peoples Bank. “We were with them when they went to do their banking. I just thought, ‘Well, that would be interesting.’”
When they started in bookkeeping, the sisters said the work was done by hand. There weren’t computers at that time. Those came later.
Both stayed in that department for about a year before switching to teller, where they helped customers with deposits, check cashing and other requests.
At times, if a co-worker was on vacation or off work for another reason at one of the two branches in Seymour or the branch in Crothersville, the sisters would fill in there. Debbie said when she came back in 1991, she spent a year working at the Airport Road location in Seymour.
Pattie said she had the opportunity to step up to head teller when the person she was assisting retired.
In that role, she handled scheduling of the tellers and was in charge of the vault at the main branch in Brownstown.
“You had to make sure the vault had enough money from all of the different branches because they would get their money from here or their money from fed and all of that,” she said. “You have to keep an eye on what everybody has to see if they need to order money or not.”
As a customer service representative, Debbie said she has helped customers open a new account for checking or savings, certificates of deposit and individual retirement accounts.
“When we started in this department, we did have a lot of questions and people helping people with any kind of problems and trying to direct them to the right place they need to go,” she said. “Now, it’s more questions go a lot to account services and the data center.”
Mark said Debbie became the “guru” for IRAs, so that has been her specialty.
“After this many years, you do become like their family,” Debbie said of customers, “because we started with some of them that just got married, and now, their kids are already having kids, so you went through their whole family.”
Since teller is terminology from several decades ago and banks now offer electronic banking, Mark said he’s calling employees in that role customer service representatives because they have to know and do more.
Once the sisters turned 65 this year, they began considering retirement.
Pattie said it was the right time so she can have the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays off.
“I’m just wanting to have time off and do different things at home and with family,” she said of her plans for retirement.
Both of Debbie’s children have four kids, so she plans to spend time with them. The sisters also have both parents in a nursing home, so they will have a lot more time to visit them, too.
“I just want to spend a lot of time and be able to help my grandkids like my mom did for me,” Debbie said.