Willis Dietz’s connection with Northwest Georgia Bank goes back more than 60 years, before he ever served on the board of the Ringgold, Ga., bank.
His mother, Joyce Osborne Dietz, was fortunate enough to get a job with the bank in 1932, at a time when the country was going through the Depression, money was hard to come by and jobs were scarce.
He recalls his neighbors in the Boynton community sending their bank transactions with his mother on her way to work.
“Back then, everybody didn’t have a car, and they would send deposits and loan payments and just anything with my mother to take to the bank. They would go ahead and endorse the checks, of course, and she would take them for deposit,” he said. “It’s just interesting that people trusted (other people that much).”
Long after his mother left the bank, Mr. Dietz served on its board of directors. Last month, after 35 years on the board, he stepped down from being an active member. The bank named him director emeritus, a new status that will allow him to continue to advise the board.
“He’s provided good leadership,” said Wesley Smith, chairman and chief executive of Northwest Georgia Bank.
He said Mr. Dietz knew everyone in the county before Catoosa County grew to be as large as it is now.
“He’s just a wonderful person, a good businessman and has been a big benefit to the bank,” Mr. Smith said.
Mr. Dietz was working as an agent for State Farm Insurance in 1973 when he was asked to serve on the board of directors for the bank. The invitation came immediately after Mr. Dietz made an attempt to start a new bank.
As a member of the board in the 1970s, he and the five other board members voted on items such as the approval of large loans and on any structural changes to the bank.
As director emeritus, Mr. Dietz will be able to attend meetings as he likes but he will not vote. Since he joined the board of directors 35 years ago, Northwest Georgia Bank has grown to nearly $470 million in deposits and now has a 10-member board.
Mr. Dietz joined the Coast Guard in 1944 and returned to Georgia to attend school once he was discharged. Mr. Dietz graduated from the University of Georgia in 1949 and earned his master’s degree in counseling the next year. He had planned to work as a teacher.
Apart from the time he spent serving in the Coast Guard, Mr. Dietz has lived all of his life in the same neighborhood in Boynton. Up until two years ago he had lived in the same house.
In 2005, he and wife Martha Guess Dietz built a house two miles from the place he grew up. The couple will celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary in a few months.
By backing away from his work with the board, Mr. Dietz will have more time to do some of the things he loves, like reading, watching movies and playing golf. It also will give him more time to sing with the quartet at church.
“I’ve been singing since I was a little child,” he said. “My voice isn’t that good, but it’s not that bad — I can carry a tune, so I have been singing in churches and still do.”