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As I prepare to retire as Brattleboro Savings & Loan’s CEO, my mind drifts back to when I, along with my wife, Edie, a recovering banker herself, first arrived in Brattleboro and what brought us here. Living in southwestern Connecticut, we made the decision to find a better quality of life; we didn’t need two-hour commutes (and that was only 17 miles), nor did we want to spend our lives in an area where it seemed that what was most important to people was getting a fancier car or a bigger house, or belonging to an exclusive club. Blech. I got a call one day from a headhunter, asking if I knew anyone who might be interested in a job as a commercial lender in Brattleboro. Having been to Brattleboro almost every weekend over the course of several years when I was a teenager, it took me about three seconds to say, “Of course I do: me!”

I started here with Merchants Bank (remember them?) on May 1, 1990, and stayed until the fall of 1993 when, kicking and screaming, the bank transferred me to Bradford to run three failed banks that it had acquired that summer. We loved Brattleboro, so at first, I said I would not accept the “promotion,” but two months later, I was asked again and was persuaded to make the move. After two years in Bradford, I went to turn around a bank in Lyndonville, and then spent the better part of a decade in Hanover with a community bank there. But Brattleboro stayed in our minds and hearts until a spring day in 2005, when the opportunity to return and to work at BS&L was presented to me. It took almost no time for us to say, “Yes, we get to go home!”

After 12 years, things were certainly different in Brattleboro. Some of the larger employers were gone, including Vermont National and First Vermont Bank (I remember them, too, and the seeming hundreds they employed), statewide banks that had been headquartered downtown. With them, those many employees that helped support downtown businesses were also largely gone. I joined BS&L at a time of real transition, not only with the changing downtown climate but followed soon after the financial crisis of 2007. These challenges clarified the direction I could see for our bank: We would support and grow the prosperity of our community. We’ve supported what makes this community uncommon and wonderful. Consider the Museum and Art Center, the Latchis, NEYT and NECCA. Consider some of our other prized assets, such as the Harris Hill Ski Jump, Naulakha and Holy Carlos! What about the Retreat Farm?

As I look back, what I really want to say is what an amazing community this is. We’re not without our challenges, but, my goodness, we have something special here that is, and should be, envied by many. And to that point, how filled with gratitude am I to have had the opportunity to live and work here, not once but twice? How blessed am I to have developed so many relationships with people here over the years? How fortunate am I to have been given a chance to make a difference with the help of so many wonderful people that I get to work with every day? The years have flown, and while I won’t be far away, I will close my thank you by quoting A.A. Milne when he wrote, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Dan Yates is president and CEO of Brattleboro Savings and Loan.