Longest-Tenured Zions Bank Employee Says Goodbye
During her 49-year career, Cheris Losee has interacted with thousands of customers, most of them in Spanish Fork, where she has been a fixture and client favorite from the beginning.
As Utah’s oldest bank, Zions Bank is known for its deep roots and cadre of long-standing, loyal employees. The average tenure among current employees is seven years, and nearly one in five workers has been with the company for more than 15 years.
But no one has had a longer run than Cheris Losee, a personal banker at the Spanish Fork branch who joined Zions Bank on June 1, 1971.
On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, Losee said goodbye to a nearly 49-year career with Zions Bank.
As the company’s longest-tenured employee, she has interacted with thousands of customers over half a century, most of them in Spanish Fork. Besides a five-year period when administrative duties took her to Provo, Losee has been a fixture and client favorite at the Main Street office from the beginning.
“She knows everyone, and it’s not just that she knows their banking needs, she knows them personally,” said Amy Morris, assistant manager of the Spanish Fork branch. “She knows their children, she knows their grandchildren; what they’ve done in their life, what their needs are.”
Losee first dipped her toes in banking in the fall of 1969 when as a high school senior she was part of a group of students selected to work at a local business. She was given part-time work at the Bank of Spanish Fork, typesetting checks and mailing them to clients.
At the time, the Bank of Spanish Fork was in the process of being acquired by Zions First National Bank. Rural banking stalwart Wallace Gardner, president of Bank of Spanish Fork, and Roy Simmons, president and CEO of Zions First National Bank, worked out the arrangements for the deal on a napkin over lunch.
Zions Bank would leave management in local hands as much as possible, giving Spanish Fork local lending authority. The bank was so independent that its letterhead for a long time read: “Bank of Spanish Fork – A Branch of Zions First National Bank.”
Losee left the bank after high school graduation to attend Brigham Young University on a scholarship. She returned to banking a year later and rejoined Zions Bank’s Bank of Spanish Fork branch on June 1, 1971.
By that time, the branch had moved directly across the street to a new building at 190 N. Main Street. With three drive-up teller lanes, the building served a steady stream of Spanish Fork residents, including a woman who regularly rode through on horseback.
Losee first worked in the bookkeeping department, preparing and sending out truckloads of bank statements that arrived from the head office in Salt Lake City. She later became executive assistant to Wallace Gardner, one of her favorite jobs, where she talked almost daily on the phone with bank president and Utah banking pioneer Roy Simmons. Losee took dictation for Gardner, writing shorthand and transcribing notes on her typewriter.
Over the decades, she filled a series of roles that touched almost every area of the branch, including administrative, customer accounts, and commercial, agricultural, mortgage and installment lending. As a lover of horses, cattle, and all things rural, she looks fondly on the years spent in the agricultural department, helping customers she already knew and making many new acquaintances.
Losee spent the last two decades of her career as a personal banker, desk in almost the same spot, helping clients open accounts and take out loans. Beside the personal computer on her desk sat an original 1970s-era typewriter — a reminder that some things never changed, including the motivation behind her work.
“I like it when our customers can leave here feeling valued,” she said. “I really feel good when I help somebody.”
March 18, 2020, Losee’s last day of work, was not only a memorable day in her Zions Bank career, it was a day to remember in Utah history. Shortly after 7 a.m., a magnitude 5.7 earthquake rocked the state, already reeling from a global coronavirus pandemic. Instead of the anticipated retirement party, clients and colleagues individually showed their thanks with flowers and notes.
“We love Cheris here in Spanish Fork,” Morris said. “It will be a learning curve not having her in the branch, not only for us as employees but also for the community.”
Luckily, Losee doesn’t plan to go far. She’ll have more time to watch her granddaughter’s softball games, and to spend with her grandsons and sons, who also live locally.
“The bank has been so good to me, and I’m really proud to have been here for as many years as I have,” Losee said.
Kallee Feuz is a Public Relations officer for Zions Bank.