By Payton Moody
OBA Communications Intern
It was a day that meant so much to bankers – a day to honor and celebrate their careers with friends and loved ones.
The Oklahoma Bankers Hall of Fame ceremony is always a special occasion, and this year’s Dec. 2 event was no exception. Four bankers were inducted into the Hall of Fame, making up the third class of inductees.
The 2021 honorees were Bruce Benbrook, Steve Burrage, Carlisle Mabrey III and the late Tracy Kelly.
Benbrook, the current chairman of the board of Stock Exchange Bank in Woodward, felt honored and humbled by his induction.
“It is a great privilege to be in my position and I am honored to have worked with such an outstanding group of bankers,” Benbrook said. “Banking is about more than just loans and money, it’s about community betterment.”
Joy Kelly, the chief operating officer at Spirit Bank in Bristow who accepted the award on behalf of her father, became emotional as she recalled some of the words by which her father lived.
“He believed in the ‘ministry of banking’ and he actively lived it,” Kelly said. “My dad always said to ‘treat every customer like they’re a guest in your home’ and to ‘leave the woodpile higher than you found it,’ and I truly believe these words of wisdom served him well throughout his life.”
Burrage, the chairman of FirstBank in Antlers, spoke on how his banking career shaped his life and impacted him in ways he never imagined.
“I wouldn’t even be up here if it wasn’t for my tremendous customers and my family,” Burrage said. “I just hope all the bankers in this room enjoy their banking careers as much as I have mine.”
Mabrey, the executive chairman of Mabrey Bank, touched on the idea bankers do more than just approve loans and count money.
“It is a privilege to be inducted next to such amazing guys,” Mabrey said. “We are up here because we all understand that our jobs are more than just banking; we’re able to help and touch communities and the people in them.”
Each banker reiterated the importance of community involvement and education.
“Education has always been a big priority of mine,” Benbrook said. “It’s the foundation, the first step in community betterment.”
Mabrey shared Benbrook’s sentiment.
“We as bankers all strive for the same things: growth and community advancement,” Mabrey said. “We owe it to the communities that keep us afloat.”
The ceremony took place at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City. Bankers from across the state filled the room to honor the group of bankers. Each inductee gave a brief speech to thank their families, hometown banks and friends for their continued support. Slide shows were also played to pay tribute to each of the inductees.