She really meant to take some time off.

But Earline Shipley, who turned 90 this week, describes herself as a people person. For her, greeting customers and answering phones at Citizen 1st Bank’s University Drive location just never gets old.

The sentiment appears mutual. About 200 customers and fellow employees gathered Tuesday for her 90th birthday party at the bank, which was decked out in red, her favorite color.

“My desk was covered in flowers and cards,” she said.

Shipley, who joined the staff 20 years ago, plans to keep working “as long as I feel good, as long as they’ll let me.”

Born near Garrison in a small community called Cedar Bluff, Shipley graduated from Garrison High in 1946. She married that fall to Billy Joe Shipley, a bricklayer and car enthusiast who later served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War.

In Nacogdoches, the couple built a home together, the bricks laid by Mr. Shipley himself. He died in 2008, but Earline Shipley continues to live in their home on Mockingbird Lane.

“When we moved over there, the street was not paved,” she said. “There was not very many houses.”

After graduating from business college, Shipley went to work in 1960 at the downtown bank that is now Regions. She’d announced her retirement in 2008, celebrating her last day on the job with fellow employees at the North Street restaurant called La Hacienda.

Her retirement lasted one weekend. Hearing she was available, an acquaintance who worked at Citizens 1st Bank had given her a call.

“She knew me, and they needed some help,” Shipley recalled. “They asked if I would think about coming to help. I retired at the end of the year in December on a Friday. Then I came to work here on Monday.”

She really had meant to retire for a while, she said, “but they needed the help.”

Shipley is a life-long fan of both country western music and travel, annually making a trip to Branson, Missouri, to catch the shows.

“I used to go with my husband every year in his antique GTO,” she said. “We belonged to the car club, so we would go to the convention every year in October. After he passed away, I started going with my sister to see the country western shows. I guess I’ve been to Branson every year for the last 30 years.”

Shipley and her husband had a son, David, who now lives in Waco. Today, her family includes four granddaughters and six great-grandchildren.

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