Served the banking industry for 50 years
By Mark H. Stowers, The Bolivar Bullet
Growing up on a small farm with a few cattle, Jerry Bullock’s turn row in life took a different twist. The Sunflower County farm boy “came to town” so to speak and made a life as a banker. This past December, he celebrated his 50 year commitment to the industry and retired as president of BankPlus.
“This past year they’ve let me trend down and I got to see what it feels like to retire,” said Bullock. “I’ve been working on more business relationships and wind down out of banking.”
He couldn’t specifically recall his first loan but has made so many more over the past five decades that he gets stopped on the street quite often and thanked.
“I started making loans in 1974 at that branch Cleveland State has on Bishop Road,” he said. “There’s been so many since that time. I wish I knew just how many loans I did make. I’ve been fortunate. It’s been a good run for me and I’ve really enjoyed what I did. I’m an outside person and I wondered sometime why I picked that profession, but I did enjoy interacting with people and getting to know their families. It was a rewarding experience.”
He travelled to Oxford to Ole Miss. His family sold the small farm he grew up on and they moved to Cleveland. Bullock got his degree and came “home” to Cleveland in 1972. His banking career began at Cleveland State Bank where his mother worked. His career there spanned from 1972 to 1999. He then moved to M&F (now Renasant) for three years and then took a job at State Bank and Trust where he’s been for the past 20 years. His retirement became official on December 31 of 2021.
“I got into banking because my mother worked for years for the Vice President of Cleveland State Bank, Jimmy Pearson. I watched him waiting on people and how much satisfaction he got out of making loans to people. It appealed to me. You can’t always do what your customers want but that’s your goal – to be able to help them and give them what they need whether it’s a loan or other banking advice,” Bullock said. “I always enjoyed the lending part. I loved farm loans, real estate, commercial real estate and that part of the business.”
Bullock appreciated his customers and co-workers at each stop and came to work to help people in all walks of life.
“You come to have a lot of friends and I’ve been fortunate to have lifetime friends because of this profession,” he said.
The Ole Miss Rebel and his wife will stay in Cleveland, but will spend more time in Lafayette County to support his Rebels. He’s looking to take in more basketball, baseball and football games and he’d like to travel.
“It’s going to be a transition for me. I’m used to going to work every day. I love to hunt and still do a good bit of that. We do plan on doing more travelling and make a couple of different trips each year. We love to trout fish. My wife, Kay, loves to fish so I know we’ll do more of that than we have been.”
Not sure where retired bankers seem to congregate, Bullock might wander into one of the local retired farmer hangouts and see if he can get a “part-time” job to help keep him occupied.
“I’ve told ’em, I may see if you need someone to drive a tractor,” he said laughing. “I’d have to relearn how to do that. It’s been a long time.”