17 legendary bankers recognized for half century of service

In 1972, the Winter Olympics were held in Sapporo, Japan and the Summer Olympics were held in Munich, West Germany; President Richard Nixon was reelected for a second term; Apollo 17, the last manned moon mission, was launched; Gene Cernan was the last person to walk on the moon; the television series M*A*S*H debuted; and Atari kicked off the first generation of video games with the release of the arcade version of Pong.

It was also the year that 17 dedicated Texas bankers began their remarkable careers. To honor their half-century or more of service, the Texas Bankers Foundation presented them with the 50-Year Banker Awards during TBA’s Annual Convention.

Laurel “Sissy” Phillips AustinLaurel “Sissy” Phillips Austin, senior EVP, Austin Bank, Texas N.A., has been with the bank her entire banking career. She has been very active in the Jacksonville community, serving  the Jacksonville United Fund, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce and Cherokee County Hospital Authority. She also served as vice chairman and chairman of Stephen F. Austin University’s Board of Regents. She has been recognized for her service with the Jacksonville Citizen of the Year Award, the Woman of the Year by Jacksonville Business and TBA’s Chairman’s Award.

Randal ClaytonRandal Clayton has been with First State Bank of Ben Wheeler his entire career. He began his career as a teller and today he is the owner of the bank and chairman of the board of directors. He has been an active member of the community, serving as a trustee for Brownsboro ISD School Board for 18 years; on the Brownsboro City Council for 10 years; and the Van ISD Education Foundation for 10 years. In 2019, Clayton was inducted into the Texas Bankers Hall of Fame at a gala hosted by the Smith-Hutson Endowed Chair of Banking at Sam Houston State University.

Hortense GutierrezHortense Gutierrez is a personal banker for FirstCapital Bank of Texas in Marble Falls. She began her banking career in 1972 as a teller at Community Savings Bank. In 2008, Gutierrez joined North Star Bank, which was acquired by Independent Bank. When the Marble Falls branch of Independent Bank was acquired by FirstCapital Bank, she became a member of the FCB team. She has received awards from FCB’s internal Culture Club Committee, including the “You Above All Award,” which exemplifies team members for extraordinary customer service and going above and beyond for a customer.

Louis E. Hart Jr.Louis E. Hart Jr. has served on the board of directors of Castroville State Bank since March 1972; he served as the chairman of the board from 1996 to 2017. Hart, a successful businessman, started Texas Transport Inc., a regional trucking/transport company. He retired in 1978 when he sold the company. He is a past president of the Alzafar Shrine, was a member of the Masonic Lodge in Hondo and the Castroville Chamber of Commerce. He is a lifetime member of the American Legion, having served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He has also served as a congregation council past president for his church.

Bill JohnsonBill Johnson, a second-generation banker, began his career in 1972 as a bookkeeper and teller with The Farmers and Merchants National Bank in Hamlin. In 1974, he joined the Texas Department of Banking and later went to work for the Bank of Commerce in Fort Worth. In 1993, he organized the Mesa Financial Corp. and Texas National Bank to acquire the Sweetwater branch of Hamlin National Bank. He currently serves as the chairman and oversees the bank’s holding company. He has served on the boards of the Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce, Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development and the Nolan County Foundation.

Claude B. LeatherwoodClaude B. Leatherwood began his banking career as a trust administration representative with Republic National Bank in Dallas. In 1973, he joined InterFirst Bank in Houston. He also worked for First Interstate Bank of Texas, N.A. and American Bank. He was with Houston Community Bank, N.A., from 1999-2014, where he served on the board and as president/COO, later becoming vice chairman/COO. Leatherwood was with Independent Bank for four years before joining Allegiance Bank, where he has been a business development officer for the last two years. He has served on many boards, committees and councils.

Frank MorrisFrank Morris started his banking career with Republic National Bank of Dallas. In April 1974, he joined First State Bank in Gainesville. He currently serves as chairman of the board for the bank’s holding company, Red River Bancorp Inc. He serves on the TIB Inc. board and has served several organizations in Gainesville and Cooke Counties. Morris was recognized with the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce Legacy Award in 2019. He and the bank were honored with the Texas Family Business of the Year Award from the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University’s Institute for Family Business in 2019 and the Best Large Community Bank to Work For from ICBA in 2021.

Jean Robinett-FindleyJean Robinett-Findley began her banking career as an administrative assistant at West Side National. In 1990, she joined The Santa Anna National Bank. She is now a vice president and compliance officer for the bank. Robinett-Findley served as mayor of Santa Anna from 2000-2006. For more than 25 years, she and her husband hosted Santa’s Rest Stop in Santa Anna. Santa would greet children and talk with each of them about what would be their gift of choice. The children tour the yard and learn about “the Reason for the Season.” Each year, hundreds of children could be seen running through the yard.

Edward J. ZinsmeisterEdward J. Zinsmeister began his banking career in 1959 as a part-time teller with Northside State Bank. After college he worked as a bank examiner for the Texas Department of Banking. He has worked for Corpus Christi Bank & Trust, First City Bank and Chase Bank of Texas in McAllen. He joined Rio Bank in 1999 as the EVP and Senior Leading Officer. Zinsmeister is retired but serves on the boards of the bank and Rio Financial Services Inc. He has served on the McAllen board of directors of the American Cancer Society, the Boy Scouts of America and the Downtown Business Organization, and on the Advisory Committee of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce.

Sharon W. BurranSharon W. Burran began her banking career as a drive-thru teller with the First National Bank of Rio Arriba in Espanola, NM. During her career she worked at several banks in Lubbock and Fort Worth. She served as the Lubbock president of the National Association of Bank Women, chairman of the TBA Community Bankers Council, member of the TBA Board and the ABA Community Bankers Council. She was recognized as Lion of the Year by the Handley Meadowbrook Lions Club and was named Outstanding Woman of the Year by the East Fort Worth Business Association.

Thomas W. EllisonThomas W. Ellison began his banking career in 1969, at First Security National Bank of Beaumont. At the age of 29, he became president of First National Bank of Colleyville. He continued his banking career at banks in Grand Prairie and Fort Worth. In 1990, he became president of Commercial Bank of Texas in Nacogdoches. Due to his foundational leadership, CBTx has continued to grow to 22 branches in 14 communities. He has been active in community groups, including the Mason Lodge, Rotary, SFASU Development Foundation, several Community Water Boards and the Nacogdoches Economic Development Corporation.

Jeffrey M. HarpJeffrey M. Harp has been a banker since 1971, working in Fort Worth for Continental National Bank, Allied Bancshares Inc. and Summit National Bank. He is a graduate of the Stonier Graduate School of Banking. In 2003, he became a founder and president of a new charter, Trinity Bank, N.A., and is currently its chairman. Harp has been very involved with the Gladney Center for Adoption. Since 1997, he and his wife have been transitional care providers for 147 infants until their adoption. He currently serves on the Center’s board of directors, as well as the boards for the Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show and the River Crest Country Club.

Edwin E. (Buddy) HayesEdwin E. (Buddy) Hayes has been a banker for 68 years! He began his career in 1954 as a bookkeeper at First State Bank, Celina. He then joined The First National Bank of Anna (1959-2001) and Texas Star Bank (2001-2020). He has been with Texas Bank since 2020 as a Senior Vice President. Hayes served as a member of the Anna City Council for 21 years, was a member of the Anna ISD Board of Trustees and served as Chairman of the Board of the Anna United Methodist Church. The Greater Anna Chamber of Commerce honored him with two Lifetime Achievement Awards and as Business Person of the Year.

Harlan LambertHarlan Lambert began his banking career in 1968 as an assistant vice president with Plains National Bank in Lubbock. In 1976, he joined Pecos County State Bank as an executive vice president, in 1979, he was elected president and in 1993, he became chairman of the board. He retired in 2004 but remains board chair. Lambert has served his community as president of the Fort Stockton Development Corp., chairman of the United Way Fort Stockton and the Fort Stockton Planning & Zoning Board. The Fort Stockton Chamber of Commerce recognized him as the 1984 Outstanding Ambassador of the Year.

M. Dale McGillM. Dale McGill joined People’s Bank in Spring Branch in 1972. He was with the bank for 12 years and through three ownerships. In 1984, he became CEO and chairman of the board of NBC Sharpstown. The next year, he became president of Enterprise Bank, which sold to Sterling Bank in 1993, and where where he remained until 1995. In 1997, he purchased Farmers and Merchants Bank in Mart, moved the charter to Houston and changed the name to Enterprise. The bank merged with Houston Commercial Bank in 2004 and in 2015 the bank merged with Allegiance Bank where he serves as a senior lender and vice chairman.

Patrick PacePatrick Pace began his career at Friona State Bank in June 1972 as a field representative. In 1981, he went to work for Farmers National Bank of Rule and in 1999 joined Rule Banking Center, a branch of Hamlin National Bank, where he served on the board. In 2017, the bank was acquired by Vista Bank, where he serves as a SVP/market president. He has served his community through his involvement with the Haskell County Jr. Livestock Association, the City of Rule Council, Rule ISD Board of Trustees, Lions Club and the City of Rule Police Department (retired Texas Peace Officer). He served on the TBA board of directors and as the chairman of the TBA Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee.

Gerald V. SekulaGerald V. Sekula started his banking career as a teller and assistant loan officer in 1971 at Falls City National Bank. He has been with the bank his entire career and received several promotions. He was elected to the board in 1979 and in 2004, he became chairman. Sekula has been an essential part of the Falls City community. He has been a member of the Volunteer Fire Dept. since 1971 and officer since 1980, a member of the Chamber of Commerce since 1971, a board member of the Falls City ISD for 18 years and the high school football announcer for 15 years. He currently serves as the financial board president for Holy Trinity Church.


Janice HarbourJanice Harbour began her banking career in 1957 and has been with Pecos County State Bank her entire 65-year career! Currently, she serves as assistant cashier, receptionist and customer service. During her career she was recognized as Employee of the Month, received the TBA 50-Year Banker Award in 2007, was named Best Bank Teller (2014 and 2016) and received the Centenarian Award in 2019. Pecos County State Bank President and CEO George H. Hansard nominated her to be recognized once again because “Jan has worked in every area of the bank and is the face and voice of PCSB.”