Banking on retirement

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Longtime Farmers worker calling it a career

By Gene Sears

If you are one of the 1,200 or so families served by Farmers Insurance in Fort Lupton, you likely know Shirley Banker, who has been behind the desk for some 27 years. A veteran of the business, Banker plans to retire this month, stepping down to spend quality time with family and enjoy some time off.

    Agency owner Paul Fazzini “inherited” Banker from the previous owner and hasn’t regretted a minute of keeping her on the staff.
    “Originally, Helen Zadel owned this business, as a Farmers agent,” Fazzini said. “She retired in 2000. Shirley worked for her 15 years. Then I came in 2001, and she has been with me for 12 years, but in the agency, and Fort Lupton, close to 30.
     “There are quite a few clients that say if it wasn’t for Shirley, they would leave, she has done so well,” Fazzini added. “Her background in the insurance industry is quite extensive. We call her the ‘in-house underwriter,’ because she really understands the insurance side of the business.”
    Banker is headed back to Wooster, Ohio, to care for her elderly mother, 97 years old and still feisty.
    “Hopefully I’ll have a few good years with her yet. She is still living on her own, and was driving up until six months ago,” Banker said.
    Now is the time for some well-deserved retirement and days with her mother as a live-in roommate, something she looks forward to along with some relaxation.
    But no sleeping in, retirement or not.
    “Oh no, my mother is an early bird, so that just doesn’t happen,” Banker laughed.
    The opportunity affords her another benefit, getting back in the area with her relatives.
    “Back with the rest of the family, I have two sisters and a brother, and their families are all back there,” Banker said.
    Banker has two daughters, Debbie Hoffman and Jody Kreamer, having lost son Joe Banker several years ago. She also has five grandchildren, all of who get to come visit her in Ohio now.
    “They’ll get to see the rest of the family, too,” Banker said.
    For now, the plan at the agency is to remain status quo, at least until the first of the year when Fazzini may hire someone in reception and payments. Both Maxine Brooks and Griselda Benitez are licensed and experienced agents capable of providing full support to the agency’s customers.
    “At least for the time being, until we get a feel for where we are at,” Fazzini said. “Because of her (Banker’s) experience and knowledge, you can’t go out and hire someone to do what she does, absolutely not. Especially if you bring someone in the same industry, different company, that doesn’t work well.”
    Banker, who says she will miss Fort Lupton, says it’s the people that she miss the most, and that she is grateful for all the friends she has here.
    “The people are interesting and so is the job,” Banker said. “It’s the sort of job that is always changing, it never gets mundane. It’s something different every day, and wonderful people to work with.”
    “I’d just like to thank everyone in the community for all the years of friendship and support,” Banker added. “I’ve enjoyed the community, and I’m leaving you in good hands.”
    An open house celebrating Shirley Banker’s retirement is scheduled for 2 to 6 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Farmers agency, 415 Denver Ave. Stop by and wish her well, and if you can’t make it, give her a call and offer well wishes at 303-857-6863.

Contact Staff Writer Gene Sears at gsears@metrowestnewspapers.com.