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WASHINGTON – Defense Credit Union Council’s Stacey Carter thinks her retirement has come a few years later than she planned, but for those in the credit union movement-particularly defense credit unions-who have become accustomed to hearing the familiar voice on the phone or talking with the DCUC’s director of administration face-to-face, Carter’s retirement at the end of the year is coming way too soon. “I’m ready to retire,” says Carter. “I’m tired. After 65 years, I’m entitled to be tired.” Her official last day with DCUC is December. 31. Carter admits that she always thought she’d retire in her early 60′s “as soon as I was eligible to, but it’s hard to let go of Arty,” she says, referring to DCUC President/CEO Roland “Arty” Arteaga who Carter has worked with since he assumed the position in March 2000. Carter’s 15-year history with DCUC not only pre-dates Arteaga but goes back to some other well-known leaders of the DCUC such as Vic Toulme who hired Carter in 1988 – he died shortly afterwards from cancer-, Jim Rowe, who succeeded Toulme, and Dave Lundahl, who preceded Arteaga. “I’ve been blessed with so many wonderful people in my life. I’ve had fabulous friends who were always there for me whenever I ran in to a hardplace,” Carter recalls. She’s certainly had her share of hardplaces during her working career. Ironically, her career which has covered multiple states, is ending in the same locale – Washington, D.C. – that it started in. The Chillicothe, Ohio-native came to Washington, D.C. shortly after she graduated from Ohio University to work at the Department of Justice for a special agent of the FBI. The federal law enforcement agency had been on the college’s campus recruiting, and Carter who graduated during a recession and had images of Grapes of Wrath and unemployment lines on her mind, jumped at the job opportunity to work as the agent’s legal secretary. That was in January 1961. “I was scared to death. At the time, women were pushed to either be teachers, nurses, or secretaries,” says Carter. “I knew I didn’t have it in me to be a nurse, and my mother was a teacher and I didn’t want to do that. So that left being a secretary.” Times were certainly different then. Carter, for examples, recalls that women weren’t allowed to be special agents then, and women weren’t allowed to smoke at their desks although men smoked in their offices. About two years later, Carter met a man she describes as being “one of the loves of my life,” and relocated with him to California. Unfortunately, the man was tragically killed in an accident shortly after the two moved to the West Coast, and Carter, hundreds of miles away from home but with legal secretarial skills in hand, found employment as a legal assistant for the hot shot, Beverly Hills law firm Adams Duque & Hazeltine (two months after Carter began working at the law firm, the company hired another attorney named Richard Nixon.) She also had the opportunity to rub shoulders while she worked there and was on a first name basis with celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop, Dean Marin, and Elvis Presley since one of the clients of an attorney at the law firm was the William Morris talent agency. Carter wound up spending 10 years in California, but in 1970 she returned to Washington, D.C. and went back to the Department of Justice for awhile, working in the then-newly created Office of Special Investigation that was investigating Nazi war criminals. Although the cause was a good one, Carter says she quickly realized “I’m not cut out to be a civil servant. My high ideals and the actual work that was done were two different things. They were just setting things up and I was disappointed.” She took a job as a legal assistant at another law firm, then realized “I had my fill of working with law firms.” So Carter tried something completely new – she started her own permanent/ temporary employment agency called S. Frances Carter Inc. She also invested in a friend’s new restaurant in Washington, D.C. The restaurant venture went bankrupt, and Carter not only found her savings totally depleted, but she also had to face the Internal Revenue Service. “I have a tough survivor instinct. You just have to keep on truckin,” she quips. In the mid-1980s, she had the opportunity to work with CUNA Mutual Group SVP of Corporate & Legislative Affairs Larry Blanchard who at the time owned Reports Inc., a publisher of financial newsletters. Blanchard eventually sold Reports and began working at CUNA where he met then-DCUC President/CEO Toulme who wound up hiring Carter as his secretary. She’s been with the DCUC ever since. As she starts to wrap things up at DCUC, Carter reflected on the three years she’s worked with Arteaga. “I’ve learned so much from him. He always goes for the right solution for everybody. Even if he has an enemy, he’ll look for the right solution to help that person. He’s open to new ideas and encourages you to use your imagination and express your ideas,” she says of the DCUC president/CEO. As eager as Carter is to start her retirement, she says she doesn’t want to get “comfortable doing nothing” and has a list of things she wants to get involved in such as water color painting and volunteer work at her church. But first, she admits, “I’m going to sit back and soak my dogs.” Carter said DCUC is in the process of searching for her replacement, and she said they are looking internally and externally. -

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