Centenarian still banks on 98-year account

Ohio woman´s father opened it before WWI

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CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — An Ohio woman who just turned 100 years old has taken customer loyalty to the extreme: She’s still using a bank savings account that’s been around almost as long as she has, since the year before World War I.

June Gregg recently mentioned to a friend that her account is the same one her father opened for her in January 1913, when she wasn’t even a year-and-a-half old. The friend told the people at Miss Gregg’s small-town bank in southern Ohio.

“That perked my ears up, because I was like, ‘1913?!’ ” said Doug Shoemaker, general manager of what’s now a Huntington National Bank branch in this community, 45 miles south of Columbus. The bank’s investigation found out that not only was it the same account, but also that the account number changed only once, when Columbus-based Huntington acquired the plainly named Savings Bank in the early 1980s, Mr. Shoemaker said.

Miss Gregg still has the little blue passbook from when the account was opened with an initial deposit of $6.11. Her father, Gilbert, a farmer who grew corn, wheat and hay, was a Savings Bank customer and wanted his only daughter to learn thrift.

“That’s what he always taught us: To stay out of debt and save our money and not buy anything until we had the money to pay for it,” Miss Gregg said in an interview.

With the help of the account, Miss Gregg is comfortable in retirement even after so many years, Mr. Shoemaker said.

“I get along good because I don’t have many wants,” said Miss Gregg, who never married and has no children.

Miss Gregg retired in 1976 after working for the post office for more than a quarter century. Earlier, she operated a general store, using the savings account for the business. Miss Gregg opened the store in 1932, three years after she graduated from high school and received as gifts a $2.50 gold piece and a $5 gold piece, which went into the account.

“I wish I hadn’t put those in,” she said, aware of gold’s value.

Miss Gregg said she never considered taking her savings elsewhere because she liked the bank. Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com, said it used to be far more common for customers and families to develop long-term attachments to banks, but that was before all of today’s shopping around and bank name changes.

“It seems less prevalent today because we’re seeing such consolidation and so many changes in banking, and incentives for consumers to move,” he said.

Though she has a checking account to pay bills, Miss Gregg said she uses the savings account for “personal dealings” and still goes to the bank regularly, though she lives in Bainbridge, 17 miles away.

“I had to give up driving two years ago, so now I just have to go when I get a chance. I try to go once a month if I can,” she said.

The bank toasted Miss Gregg on her 100th birthday Thursday with a party complete with balloons and a cake with large candles of the numerals “1-0-0.” Bank employees sang “Happy Birthday.”

“Certainly, I think June takes the cake” for loyalty, Mr. Shoemaker said.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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