By SALLY SEXTON
Weatherford has many traditions and a lot of history.
One woman was instrumental in several of those traditions, which are still around to this day, was Helen Gatlin Brogdon Shipley, who passed away Jan. 31.
Born in Athens, Texas, Shipley and her family moved to Weatherford in 1964.
Before long, Shipley was involved in several businesses and organizations in Weatherford.
As one of the original directors, Shipley was instrumental in getting Weatherford National Bank organized in 1984 and later beginning what would become the Peach Festival.
“Helen was wonderful, one of the sweetest people ever,” said Jimmie Sue Lawson, who worked with Brogdon at Weatherford National, now First Financial Bank. “I just think of her and I think of her smile. She always smiled, and it made everyone else around her happy.”
As a member of the Weatherford National staff, Shipley also paved the way as the first woman ever to serve on the bank’s board of directors.
“When my husband chartered Weatherford National Bank, Helen was the very first woman to serve as a board member in our area,” Jo Worthington said of her close friend. “Before that they were all men.”
Shipley took her board duties seriously, asserting her faith and helping establish prayer within the meeting.
“At the very first board meeting, my husband said she was the one who spoke up to all the men and said ‘I think we should have a prayer before every meeting.’ And that’s what happened,” Worthington said.
Shipley’s other duties for the bank included drumming up business and finding ways to attract customers.
Worthington and Shipley became friends almost immediately, meeting through First United Methodist Church, where both of their families attended.
“[She and Dr. Brogdon] came into town when our boys and their boys were the same age. They started sports together and right on through graduation remained big buddies,” Worthington said. “Helen and I worked together, we were good friends, we raised our kids at the same time ... it’s really hard to find good relationships like that.”