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SAN ANTONIO – Spending you entire career with a single industry, much less a single employer, may have become increasingly rare as time has gone by, but one credit union executive who is retiring this year thinks more people should give it a try. In October of 1953, Frances Guerra’s guidance counselor at her high school recommended she apply to help out at the offices of the Government Employee’s Credit Union, a small organization with offices in downtown San Antonio that might need some help around the office. Guerra applied and was accepted and began working at the credit union’s offices every workday afternoon and on Saturdays. Counting herself, Guerra said, the credit union had four employees. Now, 50 years later the credit union, which has grown into the more than $1.5 billion San Antonio Federal Credit Union, is throwing Frances a party to celebrate her time with the institution and to honor her half century of service. “Francis Guerra has worked for the credit union for 50 years. Even though she has been here that long, she still was eager to learn new things,” said Charles Smith, First Vice President for Lending at SAFCU. “About two years ago, we needed a new loan officer in our Real Estate Department. We approached Frances and asked if she would be willing to take on this new role. She jumped at the chance to learn something new and help members with mortgage loans to achieve the `American Dream’ of home ownership. It just goes to prove, you are never too old to learn something new.” Guerra said that most of the workers at credit unions today likely could not imagine what the industry was like when she started. “We didn’t have any real automation and everything had to be done manually,” she said. “We didn’t have computers, of course. We had adding machines and that was all. When we calculated dividends for members accounts, for example, we had to do each of those by hand and make the entries by hand.” Guerra said her career at the credit union took her to the teller line after helping out at the office, and then some time in employee relations and then to lending, where she has been ever since. “I think one of the things I most enjoyed was interviewing members to find out how the credit union could help them,” she said. In the beginning the credit union’s field of membership were the employees of the Kelly Field Air Force Base nearby, an area which is still there and where the credit union still has a branch even though it was decommissioned as an Air Force base two years ago, Guerra said. Looking back on her years at the credit union, Guerra said that the real story of the credit union could not be told in one year or one event, but across the institution’s whole history of helping more area residents to succeed financially. Guerra said that on the whole the credit union was often blessed with strong leadership that helped it make each of its goals. In all those years, Guerra said she never seriously considered leaving the credit union, even though she would sometimes look at job listings just to see what was out there. As she looks forward to retirement, Guerra said that she plans to spend more time with her grandchildren, as well as in traveling with her husband, whom she met at the credit union and who retired in 1996. Learning to dance is one thing that is definitely on the agenda for both she and her husband, Guerra said. “We both like to dance a lot, but we are not very good at it. Now we are going to learn how.” [email protected]

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