When John Garrison left the Marine Corps in 1962, he didn't have a profession in mind. Thus, he became president and chief executive officer of Pine Bluff National Bank.
When John Garrison left the Marine Corps in 1962, he didn’t have a profession in mind. Thus, he became president and chief executive officer of Pine Bluff National Bank.
In actuality, his story isn’t that simple. But, Garrison said, his 50-year financial career has been a seemingly natural “fit” and progression.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” recalled the 73-year-old Garrison, honored at a Thursday night retirement reception at Pine Bluff Country Club. “I learned of an opening at a Little Rock credit corporation, applied and was hired and wound up becoming a loan manager.
“But I didn’t think about being a banker. That just sorta happened.”
In 1969, the England (Lonoke County) native came to Pine Bluff after joining National Bank of Commerce (now Bank of America). A decade later, he resigned as NBC’s senior vice president to assume command at PBNB, which has grown from a $20-million to a $400-million operation during his tenure.
He stepped down as PBNB’s president and CEO in 2006 and became chairman of the bank’s board of directors, chairman and CEO of Jefferson Bancshares Inc. and chairman of Hot Springs Bank and Trust Co. Now he’s giving up those chores, but will remain a PBNB board member.
Throughout his 32-plus years here, he’s also been a community and civic leader, currently chairing the Jefferson County Public Facilities Board and Jefferson County Hospital Board of Governors.
A past president of the Kiwanis Club of Pine Bluff, he’s also been a board member for the Economic Development Alliance for Jefferson County, Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation Commission, Jefferson Regional Medical Center and United Way of Southeast Arkansas.
Although he’s not riding off into the proverbial sunset, entering a new chapter in his life has prompted Garrison to reflect on his personal and professional experiences and achievements.
“I’m going to miss the people I’ve worked with,” said Garrison. “Our board of directors has been very supportive of me, and my customers and friends have also been supportive and I want to thank them, too, for their loyalty.
“My philosophy is that people have a constant need for financial services, and a bank isn’t just brick and mortar. It’s people, sufficient and proficient people who can serve the public.
“I’m going to miss the regimentation of my job, but I am looking forward to more leisure time.
“I’ll be playing more golf,” he added with a chuckle, noting he’ll now be able to be on a course “whenever I want.”
He jumped at a chance to boast about his family.
“I have three daughters and seven grandchildren, and they and my wife, Kay, have made the journey worthwhile,” he shared. “I’m proud that Kay’s been my wife for 33 years, and that she’s stood beside me all these years.
“I think she’s looking forward to spending more time together.”
Does Garrison have any regrets about his somewhat accidental banking career or the life paths on which it has taken him?
“Not one,” he said. “No regrets at all.
“I don’t think I would change a thing, and even if I could, I think I probably wouldn’t do anything different.”