Decker to end career with Great Plains after 27-year run

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN LAURA CAMPBELL
On July 29, Kathy Decker will sign off on 27 years of lending members a helping hand at Great Plains Federal Credit Union in Hillsboro.

Decker’s decision to retire from her position as branch manager stems from a desire to invest more time in some other important people in her life-her family.

“I just want to spend more time with my family,” she said. “Life can be pretty short, and I just decided there were some things I wanted to do while I still can.

“I feel very comfortable with the choice I’ve made,” she added.

While she plans to keep her home address in Hillsboro and maintain her farm property outside of town, Decker said her immediate plans will likely include traveling to see relatives, especially her five children and their families-including a new grandchild in North Carolina.

“And I have brothers and sisters from the East to the West Coast,” she said. “We’ll just see where it takes me.”

Decker came to the credit union in 1978 after 15 years of daycare work and several more in the Tabor College registrar’s office, she said.

Since then, she has been involved in nearly every aspect of the company’s services, coming into her current roles as branch manager and loan officer in 1989.

“I’ve done everything from the teller line to the bookkeeping to the loans department,” she said.

While Decker has enjoyed her managerial position, bookkeeping has remained her passion ever since she took some accounting classes while working at Tabor.

“I really enjoyed that,” she said. “That was my first love.”

Decker has also enjoyed stepping away from her desk in recent years to continue working the teller line, she said.

“That’s a good way to know who your members are and to learn new names,” she said. “You don’t always see them in this office.

“I really enjoy being out there.”

While Decker will miss the daily interaction with coworkers and members, she said she’s not going far.

“I’ve learned to know a lot of people,” she said. “And since I’m staying around, it’s not like I won’t ever see any of them.”

Decker also plans to keep her other commitments in town, such as playing organ at Hillsboro United Methodist Church, she said.

“There’s not a lot of other things that will change,” she said. “I will just enjoy doing them and have more time to do them.”

Decker will be leaving a field of work that has become much more fast-paced and focused on lending since she entered it, she said.

“It’s changed a lot over the years,” she said. “Everything’s so computerized anymore.

“Everything is instantaneous,” she added.

That lack of delayed gratification is also reflected in the changed financial habits of the credit union’s members, she said.

“You don’t see near the savings that we saw back when I first started working,” she said. “People were much more savings-conscious than they probably are now.”

For that reason, Decker said she has worked within her position to help members handle their money better.

“I feel we do have obligations to help people learn to take care of their finances,” she said. “That was something I always strived to do.

“I would hope that, along the way, I helped people,” she added. “I hope I’ve left my mark on the place.”

Sometimes giving members a helping hand means offering a one-time shot to start over, she said.

“I know that there have been people we’ve given second chances to that it’s worked out very well,” she said. “And those are the kinds of things that always made me feel good about the job that I had.”

Decker’s work philosophy is simple, she said.

“I always feel that if you’re honest and straightforward, that in the long run it will pay off,” she said.

This kind of work ethic, coupled with a flexible attitude, has carried Decker through years of change, she said.

“Things are always changing, and that’s the way this job goes,” she said. “About the time you think that some of this is just getting old, something would change and you’d have a whole new set of challenges.

“And I always liked that.”

Now the same winds of change are leading Decker away from a job and a company she has grown to love.

“When you put 27 years in something, there’s a certain ownership you feel in it,” she said. “It’s kind of hard when you think about it that way.

“I know there will be mornings when I get up and I’ll miss being able to come to work, I’m sure,” she added. “Hopefully, there won’t be too many.”

Elizabeth Wine of the McPherson office will take Decker’s place as branch manager in Hillsboro, Decker said.

“It’ll be a good thing for her and everyone else in here,” Decker said.

“Someday I may decide it’s time to go back to work again,” she added. “But for now, I’m just looking forward to doing some things that I haven’t had a chance to do for a long time.”

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