Willie McDonald Celebrating 65 Years in Banking
CedarStone Bank executive has been helping Middle Tennessee customers since 1950
Middle Tennessee has experienced incredible economic growth over the past five years. Just imagine how much it’s grown over the past 65 years.
One man – and perhaps only one man -- can tell you. William “Willie” McDonald is celebrating his 65th consecutive year in the Middle Tennessee banking industry, the last 11 of those years as Business Development Officer for CedarStone Bank, the bank founded by his son, Bob.
“It’s an honor to continue to work alongside my father,” Bob McDonald said. “Willie is a banking legend in this state. And the relationships he has cultivated and nurtured over the past 65 years have helped CedarStone grow into a bank that our customers know and trust.”
Pictured Above - Robert L. McDonald, Jr., Willie McDonald and Bob McDonald
Willie McDonald launched his banking career in Nashville in 1950 with Third National Bank, which later became SunTrust. He worked for Third National and SunTrust for 53 years, then had a brief stint at Regions Bank before coming to CedarStone when the bank opened its doors in 2004.
“I watched Third National grow in the 1950s so it’s been exciting with CedarStone to again be part of something at the very start and watch it grow,” McDonald said.
Last year McDonald was selected by the Tennessee Bankers Association for its Leadership in Banking Excellence Award. The award, which recognizes exceptional bankers throughout the state’s history, includes a permanent display in the TBA headquarters building. McDonald has twice been named the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber of Commerce Business Man of the Year and in 2010, he received a proclamation from the Tennessee House of Representatives as the Honorary “Mayor of Donelson.”
The accolades are nice but what keeps McDonald coming back to his office every morning is the opportunity to help people and foster relationships that are long lasting.
“I always open a conversation by asking ‘Who’s your banker?’” McDonald said. “And I would say 80 percent of the people I ask tell me they don’t have a personal contact at their bank.
“So developing relationships is the key. Oftentimes our customers need somebody to listen to them and give counsel or advice. We not only talk about finances but we talk about life. We can be a sounding board that they know and trust.”
McDonald’s grandson, Robert L. McDonald, Jr., serves as CedarStone’s Relationship Manager in its Donelson office, giving the family three generations of Middle Tennessee bankers.
“From my grandfather I learned the value of customer service and building long-lasting relationships,” Robert McDonald said. “It’s an honor to follow in his footsteps -- and my father’s footsteps -- and both of them inspire me to work harder every day.”
Willie McDonald has not only helped hundreds of businesses with their financial needs but also mentored dozens of bankers over the years, including CedarStone Executive Vice President Hank Stuart, whose first job in banking was under McDonald at Third National.
“I am grateful for all that he has taught me,” Stuart said. “He continues to outwork us all and like I have always said, ‘Willie works by walking around.’”
Indeed, customers can still find McDonald walking around, whether it’s in the bank lobby, in customers’ offices or at community gatherings around the area. And McDonald is thrilled to take part in CedarStone’s latest venture, a new, state-of-the-art branch location in Donelson.
“It’s still exciting to watch a new branch open its doors for its customers,” he said. “Banking has changed in a lot of ways in 65 years but, in some ways, it hasn’t. You have to keep up with technology or it’s going to go off and leave you. But that doesn’t mean you lose the personal relationship that so many of your customers are accustomed to.
“I’m proud to be a banker. And I’m proud to call Middle Tennessee my home.”
McDonald, who was born in Monterey, moved to Nashville in 1938. He and his wife, Helen, have been married 62 years and have two sons (Bob and Bill), five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.