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Members gather as CEO reflects

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Family Trust President/CEO Lee Gardner presided over his last Annual Meeting on Tuesday at the Hood Center, where he received two standing ovations and $10,000 for charities of his choice. He plans to retire Dec. 31.

“The credit union is not the same as when I got here,” he said, noting the Family Trust had one branch and couldn’t cash checks when he arrived in 1979. And even though a credit union provides financial transactions like a bank, they’re different, he said.

“We do it with a heart,” he said. “That’s what I hope will never change.”

More than 300 members attended the meeting where Brown Simpson, Patsy Walker, Beverly Ellis and Trina Ricks were elected to the board by acclamation. Simpson will remain as board chairman, with Ron Russell elected to serve as vice chair. Walker will serve as second vice chair and Ricks is board financial officer.

Ron Miller, chief operations officer, reported the credit union ended 2015 with $398 million in assets, up 12 percent from the previous year. Loans increased 13.5 percent and net income was $4.3 million, up $1 million compared to 2014.

Bailey Ellison, 19, of Rock Hill received the $1,000 Eddie Reeves Volunteer Leadership award and scholarship. Ellison, a sophomore nursing student at Queens University in Charlotte, co-founded an anti-bullying club, served tornado victims in Joplin, MO., and raised money for families of victims at Sandy Hook. The daughter of Robin and Jim Ellison, she first volunteered in elementary school with Operation Care, which rescues animals.

Scholarship finalists receiving $500 were Hannah Jackson of Rock Hill and Bonnie Wyatt of Clover.

For members, the meeting is a sort of family reunion. “I come because we learn what’s going on with our money,” said Laura Wilson of Rock Hill, a member since 2004. “I love it.”

The Northwestern High School JROTC presented the colors; Sheila Caldwell entertained and sang the National Anthem.

Check out our 2015 Annual Report:

Pictured: President/CEO Lee Gardner and wife, De-De unveil community donation to be made in Gardner’s honor.

Pictured: Eddie Reeves Community Commitment Scholarship winners with Reeves family and Lee Gardner, Family Trust President/CEO.