- Associated Press - Saturday, October 1, 2016

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - After more than half-a-century in banking, Mary Nell Hallman is walking away.

Hallman, 72, was celebrated Sept. 28 at the main branch of Bryant Bank on McFarland Boulevard North by friends, family and co-workers.

After starting in the loan department of the former First National Bank of Tuskaloosa in August 1962, Hallman will officially retire Friday as vice president-commercial lender for Bryant Bank, which she joined in 2010.

“I’ve done everything that could be done in the loan department,” she said.

And, along the way, she evolved with the industry that she loves.

Hallman, then known as Mary Nell Caddell, was class valedictorian of Bibb County High School in 1962 and began her career at a time when bank calculations and recordings were all done by hand.

“We were tickled to death when we got calculators,” she said.

Now, more banking is done online and via the Internet than in person and with handshakes, as it was when she first started out in this career.

“She has such traditional, old-style community relationship banking in her blood,” said Bryant Bank President Claude Edwards. “She’s been a community banker and a community servant for a good many years.”

And that is what Bryant Bank founder and chairman Paul W. Bryant Jr. said he appreciated most about the woman friends called “Mary Nell.”

Bryant’s relationship with Hallman dates back to the 1960s. He entered the First National Bank of Tuskaloosa to obtain a loan. Frank Moody, the bank’s president and descendant of its founder, Judge Washington Moody, sent Bryant to see Hallman.

He said the two have been friends since then.

When he began Bryant Bank in 2005, Bryant said he wanted Hallman on board then.

“I always joked with her,” he said, “that if I ever started a bank she’s who I’d get.”

Hallman didn’t come immediately, but he eventually secured his friend at his bank.

And now, he has to say good-bye.

“I’m going to lose out on having a buddy to visit with - usually about football,” said Bryant, whose father, the late Paul W. “Bear” Bryant, knew a few things about that game.

Bryant said Hallman had the ability to recognize and remember the bank’s customers. That’s critical to community banking, he said.

“That’s important to most people, to be recognized,” Bryant said. “She’s great about that and cares about the people she recognizes and she cares about the community.”

Bryant praised Hallman’s work within the community, as well. She’s been involved with a number of organizations, including the American Legion Auxiliary, Altrusa International and the Lions Club, of which she was one of Alabama’s first female members.

“She’s just a wonderful person,” Bryant said.

Marceline Mott, a longtime friend and colleague of Hallman’s agreed.

Mott, 72, is separated in age from Hallman by three months. She was hired by Hallman at First National Bank of Tuskaloosa in 1970 and the two have remained close since that time.

And while her friend is stepping away from the office, Mott said she’s not leaving entirely.

“We’ll still be talking,” Mott said. “We’ve been through marriages and children - I’ve worked with her several years.

“She was a very fair banker - always worked hardest for her customers - and she was fair to her employees.”

And while the retirement party was Wednesday, Mott said Hallman won’t let up until her final day on the clock.

“If she’s here, she’s working,” Mott said. “That’s just the way it is.”

Hallman was joined Sept. 28 by her husband, Lee A. Hallman, the retired Tuscaloosa County license commissioner and longtime member of the local American Legion.

The two have been married 32 years. Like most things in her life, they first encountered each other in the bank.

Lee Hallman said he came in for a loan and was introduced to her. That day, he got the loan and the girl.

“I didn’t marry him for his money,” she said.

Now, she’s deciding to retire and be with him. Lee Hallman retired in August 2005, and the two plan to do some traveling and spend time together.

Mary Nell Hallman said she’s looking forward to that, but she will miss those she leaves behind.

“I think I’ll miss the people the most,” she said. “Both those I work with and the customers.”

___

Information from: The Tuscaloosa News, http://www.tuscaloosanews.com

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