Published 12:00am Wednesday, August 13, 2014

R.H. Foshee Jr., doesn’t know why his family’s bank has survived for a 100 years, but one thing’s for sure, his employees know their customers.

On Tuesday, the People’s Bank of Red Level celebrated 100 years in business.

Foshee’s wife, Lindell, who along side her husband, spent many years running the rural bank, credited good customer service as the driving force behind keeping the doors open all these years.

“We have always tried to meet the needs of the community,” she said. “And have available what people needed. You didn’t have to be wealthy to get a loan. We also know our people and have a genuine interest in the community.”

It was apparent at Tuesday’s celebration that bank customers are known by name.

Mr. Foshee said his grandfather established the bank in 1914 after the sawmill industry was declining.

“He was looking for a new position,” Foshee said. “My grandfather was J.M. Foshee.”

Mr. Foshee said his father, R.H. Foshee, and his uncle, J.L. Foshee worked as the bank president and cashier for years.

“J.M. Foshee owned all the stock,” he said.

Foshee recalled that in 1932, all the local banks with the exceptions of Dozier and Red Level closed.

“One evening they got word that there would be a run on the bank the next day,” he said. “So, they closed and turned it over to the state bank department for liquidation.”

A run on the bank is when a large number of customers make withdrawals at the same time.

Mr. Foshee said bank employees went to depositors and sold stock in the company, which equated to $16,000, which was enough to make the bank liquid again.

“We re-opened with two additional directors – George Smith and John T. Hugghins,” he said.

Mr. Foshee said he came to work for the bank in 1953, and took over as president after his father died.

Foshee retired in 1999.

Current bank president Phillip Murphy has served in the position since 2009.

Foshee recalled banking was very informal during his grandfather’s days.

“He knew everyone and had a very personal relationship with them,” he said. “Everything was done on paper and with ink and pencils.”

Foshee said his father went to business school and learned to type and became a bookkeeper.

A lot has changed since those days, he said.

“We now have debit and credit cards, a website, where you can check your account, direct deposit,” he said. “I think in another 10 years you won’t have to come to the bank.”

This summer, a fifth generation Foshee, David, spent time learning the business.

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