After more than four decades of service to the public at three different businesses, Gentry Barnes, who currently serves as Vice President and Loan Officer at Wilson Bank & Trust in Smithville, has decided to retire.
“I’m just changing jobs. I’ll be going to full time farming, rabbit hunting, fishing, and spending more time with my wife and five grandkids. I’m sure I’ll stay busy,” said Barnes.
A retirement reception was held for Barnes last Tuesday at the Smithville Branch, where he has served in various roles since 2001 including Bank President before the merger of DeKalb Community Bank with Wilson Bank & Trust in 2007. But Barnes’ beginning with the bank goes back to the founding in 1996.
“In 1995 some folks from Wilson Bank & Trust approached me, Mike Corley, and Eddie Evins from this county about starting a new bank here in DeKalb County. Everything came together and we actually opened DeKalb Community Bank on April 18, 1996. Howard Kirksey was President of the Bank. Howard worked for us five years and left in February in 2001. We went three or four months without a President and ultimately they hired me to start in July, 2001 as President of DeKalb Community Bank,” said Barnes.
After the merger in 2007, Barnes became the branch manager.
“We merged with Wilson Bank & Trust in 2007 mainly because of compliance issues. We had to have a compliance officer in-house and there were a lot of extra costs there for a small bank starting up. It was tough to be able to afford that so merging with Wilson Bank & Trust was a practical thing to do. It’s been a great thing for the bank and community since then. At that time instead of being President of DeKalb Community Bank, I became the branch manager of the Smithville office and loan officer. I served in that capacity until February, 2015 and then went to part time. Chad Colwell, who was a loan officer here, became the branch manager of the Smithville Office. I have been loan officer and Vice President in Smithville since that time,” said Barnes.
Born and raised in DeKalb County, Barnes recalled going to school in the Belk community growing up.
“I went to Belk school which was a three room school. We had three teachers for grades 1-8. After that I went to DeKalb County High School and then to MTSU where I earned my BS degree in agriculture before returning to DeKalb County to begin my career,” Barnes continued.
He landed his first job with Production Credit Association in 1975.
“I started in November 1975 with Production Credit Association in Smithville. In 1980 I was transferred to McMinnville. They were in the process of merging Federal Land Bank and Production Credit Association to make what we know as Farm Credit. When they did that, I continued to work in McMinnville until 1988 and then I started as an agent with State Farm Insurance in Smithville. I was a State Farm Agent here from 1988 until 2001 when I joined the bank,” said Barnes.
Although he has enjoyed his long career, Barnes said the time has come to step aside.
“Its been a pleasure. I’ve had three jobs, but this by far is the best one I’ve ever had working with a great group of people, not only as peers here at the bank but with the customers and more importantly with my friends out in the community. Helping so many people has been very gratifying and satisfying to me personally to think that maybe I had a little part in their success. I have been very blessed. I’ve always felt like if I got to the position where I could financially retire and was physically able that I would retire because I always felt like there was somebody younger who needs to move up and have the same opportunity as I did. I am 65 now so I think the practical thing to do is retire and let someone take my place so I can enjoy my family and life more as long as God lets me stay here,” Barnes said.
Gentry and his wife Pat reside in the Belk Community on the same farm where he was raised on and they are the proud parents of two, Amy and Adam and five grandchildren. Pat, who spent 30 years as a classroom teacher at DeKalb Middle School, is also retired.
Amy is an LPN at a nursing home in Woodbury and Adam works as branch manager at Middle Tennessee Natural Gas in White County.