On his last day, in his office at First Southern State Bank in Scottsboro, Grady Jacobs talks about his career and family that has been intertwined in the banking business in the area for more than 100 years.
Earlier in the day, co-workers, friends and family honored Jacobs with a reception upstairs. It was a good day, like most are, with a man, who has spent over 50 years helping his customers.
His great-grandfather, J.C. Jacobs II incorporated Jacobs Bank in 1909. J.C. died in 1938, leaving the bank in the hands of his sons, Henry Grady Jacobs (Grady’s grandfather) and Rice Jacobs.
J.C. Jacobs III, Grady’s father, served in World War II and came home to work at the bank.
“I never thought I would be the historian of the family,” laughed Jacobs.
At 18, Jacobs joined the family business in 1968.
“I had worked at a wholesale store from 14 to 18,” said Jacobs. “Daddy thought I would stay there. But at the bank, there was air condition, nice ladies to help you and you didn’t have men picking on you.”
Jacobs spent more than 30 years at Jacobs Bank. He said Jacobs Bank had the first drive-in window in town. He remembers running the Hollywood branch, from 1977-1979.
“On Fridays, we would have 400 people coming from Bellefonte to cash their checks,” he said.
In 1999, Jacobs Bank merged with Regions Bank. Jacobs left about a year later after the merger.
“My style of banking and big banks don’t fit,” he said. “I left before they took down the Jacobs sign.”
He went to work at People’s Independent Bank, staying nine years. In 2009, he joined First Southern State Bank.
“Grady Jacobs is a pillar in the community, and it has been an honor and privilege to work with him for the past 13 years at First Southern State Bank,” said Bank President and CEO Jack Lovelady.
Lovelady said he was always admired Jacobs’ passion to help people and his willingness to offer his best to his customers and to the bank.
“Our First Southern family wishes him a well-deserved, happy and healthy retirement,” added Lovelady.
Jacobs said it was about helping people, making them comfortable.
“Most people in the county are not interested in big bank ways,” he said. “We still mostly do business here like it’s 1980.”
The banking business, like life, has changed in the last 50 plus years. There’s ATMs now, says Jacobs.
“The computer is a blessing and a curse,” he laughs.
His great grandfather, grandfather and father all died while still working at the bank.
“I’m not going to die at the bank,” said Jacobs. “I’m going to retire.”
Jacobs said he thanks all his customers who made the many years of personal banking an adventure and journey for him since 1971.
“I’m not leaving town and not changing my number,” he said. “If you have a problem, call me and I will get it handled.”
He also thanked his many co-workers that helped, taught and guided him through many projects.
“I truly appreciate your patience and knowledge,” Jacobs added.
In retirement, Jacobs said he will lay around the lake and hammer and nail some. He and his wife of 47 years, Kathy, have three children, Nita Herrington, a doctor in Huntsville; J.C. IV, an emergency room doctor in Mobile and Paul, a commercial pilot.
They also have seven grandchildren.
An era ended last week. The last one in a prominent family, who played a major role in banking in the area for over 100 years, is leaving. In that family, he put in the most time, over 50 years, helping customers, keeping the office happy where the doors always remain open.
Jacobs has spent 40 years on the Scottsboro Electric Power Board. He said he can stay or go, either way he’s good.
For years, he went to Scottsboro High School to teach seniors about banking. He always left them with three comments: “don’t overdraw, remember there is no such thing as a free lunch and go vote.”
Words to live by.