— By BRIAN SMITH
It’s been said that behind every good man there’s a woman making him even better.
Such is the case of Fred “Freddy” Werner, who will celebrate 50 years with First National Bank Weatherford with a special ceremony/open house Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. at the bank’s main branch, 220 Palo Pinto St. If it hadn’t been for his wife of nearly 49 years, Donna, Fred said he may never have taken the job at the bank.
“I knew I loved her and had to go to work and have a job,” Fred Werner said. “I had had a semester at Weatherford College but knew I wanted more. (Former bank president) Lee Young was my neighbor and hired me to file checks.”
That was back in 1962 and Werner took a piece of advice from his former mentor about the job.
“Everyone simply loved Lee Young. He told me that if I do a halfway good job and not be dishonest they won’t fire me,” Werner said with a smile and chuckle. “He said I would starve for the first few years, but I would have a different job each year.”
Young was true to his word and Werner learned the ropes, starting at the location formerly on the square. The bank moved to its present main branch in 1964 on the site of the former Parker Hotel. Werner was involved in bookkeeping, as a teller and finally as a cashier in operations but admitted he wanted out of operations in the early 1970s which is when he went into lending, where he has spent the last 40 or so years.
Werner has worked his way up the ladder, becoming a senior vice president in charge of consumer loans. He took night school classes to become a graduate of the Southwestern School of Banking at Southern Methodist University and has also taken classes with the American Institute of Banking.
Werner moved to Weatherford when he was three from Kansas City, Kan. and said he has met a lot of great people in his time n town, admitting there was a time where he couldn’t go anywhere in Weatherford or Fort Worth where he didn’t see someone he knew. As times have changed and both places have grown, that has changed.
Werner said being a loan officer has its ups and downs. He says he is happiest when he can help someone with a loan who turns out to be successful, which isn’t always the case.
“I’m not always right (when it comes to a loan),” Werner said. “I don’t always have all the answers, but I can’t give someone a loan I don’t feel has the ability to pay it back. That’s not good for them or for me.”
Werner received a promotion of sorts late last year when he was named to oversee the new FNB Weatherford branch on College Park Drive, just east of South Main Street. He says he loves the new branch and, like his humble nature, gives all the praise to the staff at the facility.
“I have the greatest bunch of gals in this office as they all spoil me,” Werner said.
Being active in the community is something Werner takes pride in as he has been a member of the American Red Cross, the Gideons and was treasurer of the local chapter of the Salvation Army for 40 years along with being a former Optimist Club member.
Werner says he has no plans to retire just yet as “they haven’t told me to.” He said his dad gave him a piece of sage advice when it comes to retiring.
“Ten years ago I thought I knew when to retire,” Werner said. “My dad told me they have working backwards: you need to retire when you’re young enough to enjoy it and work when you’re older. I’m keeping that in mind.”
With any luck, Werner will continue to be with the bank another 50 years and continue to make more friends.