When Dawn Buckallew was offered a job at the Bank of Grain Valley in 1980, gas was 63 cents a gallon, you could go see a movie for $3 and the price of a postage stamp was 22 cents.
“Now you’re making me feel old,” quipped Buckallew, who spent the past 39 years at the Bank of Grain Valley’s location on Main Street in downtown Grain Valley. “Accepting this job was a life-changing experience.”
“Let’s see, I started in June of 1980 and was a bookkeeper and assistant cashier,” said Buckallew, who retired last week as vice president of the bank.
“I did pretty much everything you can do at a bank, and loved every position I held. I’ve been here more than half my life, and it has always been my second home.”
“A lot has changed over the past 39 years, but our dedication to our customers and our love of Grain Valley has always been the most important thing we can offer.”
She has been at the bank longer than Chairman of the Board Allen Lefko, who arrived on the scene in 1986.
“What can I say about Dawn?” he asked, grinning. “How much time do you have? To say we’re going to miss here would be the understatement of the year.”
“She has been an important part of our family for nearly 40 years, and she has been a loyal and hard-working employee who has meant so much to our bank and the community of Grain Valley.”
Her role at the Bank of Grain Valley was not her first role in the banking community as she worked at Grandview Bank in 1978 and University Bank in 1979.
“Lawrence Cannon, who worked at University Bank, was also on the board of directors of the Bank of Grain Valley, and he suggested I take a job opening at the Bank of Grain Valley,” Buckallew said.
“So I looked it into and it looked like a great fit – it was a great bank and much closer for me to drive, so I applied, and I got it.”
That move changed her life and her future home.
Buckallew has been a treasurer for the Grain Valley Assistance Council for 16 years, a treasurer for the Chamber of Commerce for 15 years, and a co-chair, along with Lefko, of the Grain Valley Senior Luncheon for 10 years. She has volunteered for the city’s Halloween Hayride, Chili Supper and Auction, fireworks tent and business expo.
She was named a Pillar of the Community and Outstanding Civic Leader in 2005.
“It’s just not going to be the same without Dawn here,” said assistant vice president Linda Allen, who has known Buckallew for 35 years. “She has meant so much to the bank, to our customers and our community and she is a great person and friend.”
Off-hours, Buckallew and her husband, Randy, performed in the Fire Prairie Creek Band, which headlined Grain Valley Fair Days in 1983 and 1988 and shared the stage with such notables as Keith Whitley (at Santa-Cali-Gon Days in Independence), T. Graham Brown and Rodney Crowell.
“That was a lot of fun,” Buckallew said. “We played here in Grain Valley and at a lot of local fairs and festivals.”
While she will still look in on the bank occasionally, she said she is looking forward to retirement alongside her husband, who also recently retired.
“I’m looking forward to retirement, especially since Randy just retired, too,” Buckallew said. “But when I look back at the past 39 years I was so lucky to work with great people, to learn from the best in Mr. Lefko and to be a part of a great community.”