O. Rose Theos Celebrates 55 Years at Haverhill Bank

O. Rose Theos has been a constant in downtown Haverhill for the past 55 years.

Much has changed in downtown Haverhill since O. Rose Theos went to work for Haverhill Bank in 1960. Luckily for Haverhill Bank’s customers, one thing that hasn’t changed is the receptionist’s warm welcome, happy smile and helpful guidance.

Last week, Haverhill Bank President and CEO Thomas L. Mortimer interrupted Theos’ routine, called on main office staff to gather around her in the lobby and presented her with flowers and gifts on the occasion of her 55th anniversary with the bank. While accepting graciously, she said she needed to get back to work.

“After all,” she said, “customers come first.”

In 1960, city leaders were debating the future of downtown and giving final approvals to raze buildings throughout the central business district, as urban renewal got under way. Theos reported to President James R. Page at the bank’s rented headquarters on the first floor of the Masonic Temple, 117 Merrimack St., now home to Haverhill Beef. By 1978, at the end of urban renewal, she went to work at the bank’s first owned home at 180 Merrimack St. Haverhill Bank had been designated as developer of the riverfront parcel, the former locations of Handy Dandy and Carroll Perfumers, during the final phases of the Merrimack Street Urban Renewal Project. She introduced customers to the $1 million modern structure and helped them navigate the greatly expanded operation.

There were always new customers for Theos to welcome and befriend. Besides steady customer growth, including the children and grandchildren of existing customers, she welcomed the depositors of Citizens Co-operative Bank in 1963, Whittier Co-operative Bank in 1983, Northeast Community Credit Union in 2008 and Economy Co-Operative Bank in 2011 after each of those respective consolidations.

It has been a period of great growth. When Theos went to work in 1960, the bank held respectable deposits of $10 million. By the year 2000, it was $115 million and, today, $300 million. There was only one bank branch in 1960; today there are eight.

Theos also conducted some hand holding as customers warily learned to use the city’s first automated teller machines (ATMs), courtesy of Haverhill Bank, in 1980. More than two decades later, she helps customers navigate the bank via the World Wide Web and mobile apps.

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