EVART — After more than four decades in the banking industry, Evart resident Deana Lauman has decided it's time to move on from the working world and head into retirement.

"It's going to be very, very hard to leave," Lauman said. "I've gone from one generation to the next. I've helped parents who have children, and now I help their grandchildren.

A native of Flint, she moved with her parents to Evart — her mother's hometown — in 1970 and she graduated from Evart High School. Following graduation she began at what was then First National Bank of Evart, located where the current museum is housed. Although the job was only meant to be for the summer, she was offered a full-time position.

"One year went to the next and the next and now I've been here for 43 years," Lauman added. "I enjoy math, so that helped me enjoy the job."

She began in bookkeeping and since worked in each banking position, staying with the bank when the current building was built in 1973. In 1999, First National Bank of Evart changed to Citizens Bank, and in 2013 Citizens changed to First Merit Bank.

Lauman is the only employee left from the original bank. Now, she serves as First Merit's senior customer champion, often assisting bankers at the teller desk or in her own private office.

"I really enjoy helping the people here," Lauman added. "I still like it, but now I've had some challenges and I think that means it's time to go. It's been a good place to work."

Although she's nervous about all of the upcoming free time, Lauman said she intends to take moments to paint and spend plenty of time with her great-niece. She also plans to volunteer with the senior citizens she currently helps with their banking needs and with the Evart Moose Lodge.

As her professional days come to a close, Lauman reflects on the people she's met throughout her years at the bank.

"We've always had a good crew to work with here," she added. "The customers I work with I'll miss terribly, but the girls I work with I'll miss the most."

Residents who wish to congratulate her can attend an open house which will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, her final day at the bank.

First Merit Bank Branch Manager and Assistant Vice President Molly Cataldo said customers have been loyal to Lauman throughout the years and have been sad to hear of her departure from the bank.

"It's going to be strange not having her here," Cataldo added. "We'll miss her and there certainly will be a large void to fill."