A picture on Harriet Woelk’s teller window station at Emprise Bank in Hillsboro, taken when she started work there as a bookkeeper 40 years ago, shows her looking very much the same as she does now, with glasses, a short blond haircut, and a warm, friendly smile.
That warm smile, combined with a professional attitude and extensive knowledge has made Woelk a favorite among fellow employees and customers at the Hillsboro business that honored her years of service with a reception Friday.
“Not too many people can say they’ve stayed at the same place for 40 years,” former co-worker Bob Watson said.
Fellow employee Amanda Castro said she was also glad to have Woelk as a mentor and trainer at Emprise Bank.
“She’s very nice, very easy to work with, definitely my go-to person when I have questions,” said Castro.
Castro began working at Emprise six months ago as a personal banker.
“I trained in Wichita, but if I have questions in-branch she is someone I know I can go too,” she said. “She is my back-up for sure.”
Though her looks and dedication to service have not changed much in the past 40 years, some things about Woelk’s work in personal finance and customer service have changed.
“Probably the hardest thing about my job has been staying on top of the continual technology changes,” Woelk said.
“When I first started working here, we kept all our tickets on a spindle. Then at the end of the day we added up the ins and the outs.”
Woelk grew up north of Lehigh, and after graduating from Hillsboro High School, attended Brown Mackie College in Salina.
“I always liked business classes in high school,” she said. “So it was pretty easy for me to decide what I wanted to do next. Back then business included typing and shorthand, it didn’t involve computers at all.”
Just out of business school, Woelk worked briefly as a bookkeeper for an insurance company in McPherson, but when an opening in Hillsboro became available, she applied for the opportunity because she wanted to be closer to home.
She got the job as a bookkeeper at Emprise Bank in Hillsboro in 1972 and has worked there ever since, expanding her knowledge to positions in personal finance and teller work.
“I really enjoy meeting customers, interacting with customers, and getting to know people,” she said. “I also like that every day is different.”
Woelk said learning computer skills became part of her job in the early 1990s.
“We started with one main computer that everyone shared in the back here,” she said. “Now we all have our own systems at each station. We’ve come a long way from teller machines and spindle ticket holders.”
Woelk said that though she has put in 40 years at Emprise, she was in no hurry to retire or pursue anything else in life just yet.
“I just plan on continuing on as is,” she said. “I enjoy my work with the cash drawer, filling out money orders, working with debit cards, or just figuring out how to help meet a variety of customer needs.”