Somerville preparing to retire from  Security State Bank

Linda Somerville is already gathering and packing boxes and teaching her replacement, Lauren Team, as she prepares to retire from her 37 years in banking, and start a new chapter on her small family farm in Harper.

Linda Somerville, vice-president of marketing over the 16 branches of Security State Bank and Trust, says she gave her bosses a year's notice when she decided to retire. Now she's grooming her replacement, Lauren Team, to take over December 31.

Somerville says her position has many jobs. One of them is to respond to donation requests each branch receive from their communities.

She says, "We try to keep each branch as local as possible, responding to needs where they are. For instance, the annual golf tournament is local to Kerrville and Fredericksburg, so we coordinate between those branches. The Junior Livestock Show has a wider impact, and for more than 30 years we've coordinated the support among five branches; Fredericksburg, Kerrville, Ingram, Harper and Comfort. And some campaigns involve all our 16 branches."

She also coordinates advertising campaigns, she says. That includes designing the advertisements, and placing them. "Locally we advertise in newspapers, like the Community Journal; in Kerr County People magazine; in the real estate magazines; on radio, and online. On radio, we'll often sponsor something, like our support of football game broadcasts, or partner with local charities."

Somerville says other parts of her job include overseeing the training department, and being on the executive leadership team. "We'll be in a meeting, and someone will come up with a new service we can provide. I'll step in and say, 'I need to know about that, so I can tell all our customers about it'."

She says all of that comes from her three-person department. She oversees a graphic designer, and currently is preparing Team to step up. She says even though her Security State position is at corporate level, the bank lets her office close to where she lives. "I've been here in Kerrville, but when Lauren takes over she'll work from Fort Worth. Before that happens, though, I'll make sure she knows the folks here in the Hill Country."

Somerville says she was born in Falfurrias, the youngest of four sisters. The family moved to Kerrville when she was 13, so she was the only one who attended Peterson Junior High and Tivy High School.

"My father, Fred Walters, was working for an oil company," she says. "It was bought out, and the new owners fired all the foremen. Dad said he didn't want to work for anyone else again, so he and my mom, Beulah, left us with grandparents and hit the road. We didn't know what was going on. They almost bought a store in New Braunfels, but finally ended up in Kerrville. They opened Walters' Grocery, where Back 40 is now, and ran it for many years. I learned the business right along with Dad."

She says when she got to her junior year at Tivy she took Distributive Education, working for Handy Andy. She continued there after she graduated, in 1974, until the store went bankrupt. Food City took over, and she worked for them until 1984.

"I decided I wanted something more professional," she says. "A position where I didn't wear a uniform, and do whatever needed doing. I saw an ad for a job at Ingram State Bank, and put in an application. Bill Cowden was the president, and a graduate of Texas A&M. My ex-husband went to A&M, and banked at Ingram State, so Bill called me in and hired me."

She says she worked as a teller for three months, then was promoted to opening new accounts and managing the safe deposit boxes. In 1985 she became the executive secretary to the president. "I had to learn about contracts and real estate. I've been fortunate to work for and with people who were willing to give me a chance. Bill sent me across the street to Don Oehler, who sat me in his law library and taught me the legal skills."

Somerville says Ingram State got caught in the bank crash of 1990. "The bank was closed on Sept. 19, and it caused a lot of trauma. It was the only bank in Ingram. But the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation came through, and not one person lost any money. I actually worked for the FDIC for 10 days, balancing the books, then all the customers lined up to get their checks. The community really stepped up to support us, providing hot dogs, drinks, and other necessities for those waiting. I learned a whole lot in those 10 days."

She says Security State Bank bought Ingram's loan portfolio, so a lot of ISB's customers followed their loans and deposited their checks at Security State. When her job at FDIC ended Bill Cowden called the Security State Bank's president, who happened to be his brother, Mark Cowden, and told him he needed to hire Somerville. She started as a teller again, serving a lot of her old customers.

As Security State expanded, she says she became the operations officer in 1992. "That was a position where I oversaw most of the bank's functions, including hiring, and unfortunately, firing. In 2001 I was promoted to vice-president, as administrative officer in Kerrville. I became the business development officer, starting my marketing career, in 2005. Then I spent two years as a loan officer. That wasn't as much fun, since I like to say 'Yes,' and often had to say, 'No.' But I never ask anyone to do anything I'm not willing to do myself. In 2012 I was promoted to corporate, and became the marketing director."

Somerville says in addition to her work at the bank she completed Leadership Kerr County in 1999, and served on their steering committee. She has held several roles in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, Executive Women's Club, Kerr County United Way, Hill Country College Fund, Mardi Gras on Main, the Stars and Stripes Gala Salute to Hill Country Military, and Our Lady of the Hills Regional High School Capital Campaign. She has been active in the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce, and among other things participated in their building project. "I actually got my name on the dedication plaque," she says. "I didn't anticipate that."

But now Somerville says she's ready to embark on the next chapter of her life. "We bought 11 acres near Harper. My son, Ben Somerville, built me a home, and is building one for he and his wife, Kellyn, and my two grandsons, Braden Mosty and Avery Somerville. We have a joint garden, some goats, and baby pigs. So we'll have a family farm, and I'll do some bookkeeping for WFM Enterprises, Ben's HVAC business. I also want to travel. There are a lot of national parks I haven't seen."

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