Daniels retires after 38 years in banking

On Friday, Dee Daniels awoke at 5 a.m..

It wasn’t her usual time – she was anxious, she said.

Understandable – because it would be her final day after nearly 15 years of service at Farmers Savings Bank in Marshalltown.

And it would be a busy one.

She was going to be saying goodbye to co-workers and customers, throughout the day and especially at an open house on her behalf from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

After work, the bank was sponsoring a retirement party for her at a local restaurant.

In total, Daniels had 38 remarkable years in banking, having worked at other financial institutions throughout central Iowa before joining Farmers in 1999.

One was the former Security Bank & Trust (now Great Western Bank) in Marshalltown, where she worked for 19 years.

Daniels, at the ready with a hearty laugh or smile, would be stepping down as Farmers’ customer service supervisor, a position she thoroughly enjoyed for its professional challenges and the opportunity to interact with customers and staff.

Banking was in Daniels’ blood.

Her mother worked at the former Home Federal, (later American Federal) in Des Moines for 30 years.

Daniels started her banking career at that institution, first as a high school student and then periodically in college as a fill-in teller. She worked in banks large and small.

Daniels said she remembered posting accounts by hand at one bank and hand-filling coin wrappers at one institution years ago.

But from tedious coin wrapping she would see the industry advance rapidly with technology.

“Banking via computers from home and cell phone has been good for customer convenience but can also pose security challenges,” she said. “Part of my job, and that of my co-workers, has been to educate customers on the many security and identity theft risks that exist today. For example, look at the level of damage from the Target Stores breech. We emphasize repeatedly to customers to use common sense with electronic banking.”

She joked that at Farmers she was the “odd man out” being a University of Northern Iowa graduate, surrounded by Iowa and Iowa State graduates and fans.

Regardless she proudly wore the school’s purple and gold on “Football Fridays” when the bank let employees wear school colors.

For years banking was a male bastion, and Daniels embraced that challenge over time, advocating “equal pay for equal work.”

“The reasoning given for men being paid more was that they were the breadwinner,” she said. “However, that changed dramatically, when women became breadwinners too. It had became necessary for husband and wife to both work to make ends meet.”

Marki McKibben of Marshalltown worked with Daniels at Security and Farmers.

“Dee was always very conscientious, always customer service oriented,” McKibben said. “She went above and beyond a customer’s expectation. She never gave up on a problem. Customers always came first for Dee.”