Except it wasn’t. The bank office was closing for good later that day. Customers were closing their accounts. And, with the closing, 28 years that financial institutions had been doing business in the building at the southwest corner of a major downtown intersection were ending, at least for now.
Closing day was especially significant — indeed, somber — for one bank employee. Noemia Oliveira had worked in banking operations in the building for all 28 years, along with three earlier years nearby for a total of 31 years.
Those first three years were with Tracy Savings and Loan Association, when it was first opened for business in 1983 in a trailer parked nearby in a lot on East 10th Street. One of three original tellers, she moved with the local savings and loan to the old PG&E office at 1014 Central Ave. a year later. In 1985, she went with it across Central Avenue to the remodeled, circa-1938 former Turner Hardware building on the corner.
What later became Tracy Federal Bank was sold to Community Banks of Colorado in the mid-1990s, and Noemia continued with that group, winding up her 31 years of local banking as manager of the Colorado bank’s four offices in California.
As Noemia chatted with Gene Birk, the founding president of Tracy Savings and Loan Association, and me Tuesday morning in the Community Banks of Colorado downtown office lobby, Nanette Martin walked into the bank and went to a teller window.
“Excuse me,” Noemia told us, “I’ve got to help Nanette.”
Martin, co-owner of Martin Farms, has been a banking customer at Tracy Savings and Loan and successor financial organizations since Day 1.
“My dad, Armando Baldocchi, was on the original board of directors of Tracy Savings and Loan Association when it was organized in 1981 and started in business in 1983,” she said. “He was really proud of being a part of establishing Tracy Savings, and all in our family knew that.”
Martin was at the bank Tuesday to begin closing accounts stretching back 31 years. Noemia was there to help her through the account-closing hoops.
Birk pointed to Noemia waiting on Nanette.
“Being involved for 31 years really has given Noemia insight who the longtime customers have been,” Birk said. “With all the management changes they have had over the years, she has been so important to providing continuity, especially for the longtime customers.”
Birk recalled that Noemia was hired as a receptionist and became a teller when Tracy Savings was opened in January 1983. A year later, Birk vacated his position as president and CEO of Tracy Savings, but he continued on the board of directors as representative of the association’s advisory board — and has retained close ties with Noemia to this day.
And during those three decades, both Gene and Noemia have worked together on the annual Brighter Christmas fundraising campaign.
Noemia continued with Tracy Savings through a series of management changes and when it was converted to Tracy Federal Bank in 1990. Five years later, it was sold to Community Banks of Colorado and its name changed to Community Banks of Tracy, then Community Banks of Northern California. A second Tracy office was opened in a new two-story headquarters building off Grant Line Road.
In 2010, the four offices in California were folded into the Community Banks of Colorado parent organization. In October 2011, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. closed Community Banks of Colorado and arranged for it to be purchased by Bank Midwest, National Association, a bank holding company in Kansas City, Mo., that specializes in acquiring troubled financial institutions.
Bank Midwest announced in September that it was closing its four Community Banks of Colorado offices in California — two in Tracy and one each in Lathrop and Rocklin — to concentrate on its core areas of business in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado. The closing
date for the California offices was set at Dec. 31.
Noemia, who for 20 years was accounting manager for the Colorado-based bank’s operations in California, became manager of all four branches last summer.
“It hasn’t been business as usual in the last few months,” she said. “Customers have started closing accounts, and we started getting ready to close down operations.”
Looking around the lobby of the downtown office, she said, “Yes, when I think about it, this is a sad day. My whole career has been pretty much at this place. I feel very fortunate that I have been here locally all these years, when I’ve built wonderful relationships with both co-workers and clients.”
Not all customers had closed their accounts by the Tuesday closing deadline, and they can keep their accounts with Community Banks of Colorado open indefinitely and make contact online or with phone calls, she said.
Noemia and her husband, Joe, and three children live in Tracy, and she plans to continue to work in the financial field, hopefully in Tracy.
“I suppose I’ll have to start looking for a new job soon,” she said. “It will be a new adventure for me.”
Anyone thinking of hiring her should know full well that Noemia Oliveira isn’t the kind of employee who flits from one job to another.
• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.