A local banker was applauded and celebrated for decades of service in Kilgore at a special reception Thursday evening.

Kenneth Plunk, executive vice president and chief lending officer of Citizens Bank, began his retirement at the end of August. Thursday’s event looked back at his years in banking. Plunk has been in banking for 45 years and started at Citizens Bank in July 1990.

The bank’s president and CEO, Sammy York, told the large group of friends, family and co-workers about his experiences working with Plunk over the years.

“I’ve been here 17 years and we’ve shared lots of good times together,” he said. “We had some issues, not with with each other but in this business, we worked through together. Ken has been a good friend and has always had my back. I know Ken is ready to take that next step. He has been here for 31 years. I can’t think of anybody that loves this bank, loves the staff, loves the community, as much as him. You talk about community banking, that’s the picture of it right there. We’re going to miss you, buddy.”

After a round of applause, Plunk expressed his thanks and gratitude to his wife, his family and his co-workers and shared his thoughts on retirement after so many years spent working.

“When you make up your mind that you’re going to do this and it gets closer and closer, you’re thinking ‘What am I going to do?’ When you’ve worked every day since you’re 16 years old, you don’t know what else to do. The trouble with retirement is you never get a day off,” he said with a laugh.

“I appreciate the board of directors here, the staff, the people I’ve worked with, they’re the greatest team in the world. I hope that I gave it as good as I got. That’s all you hope for.”

Those gathered laughed an applauded as Plunk offered thanks for the support of family and co-workers and shared a joke: “Old bankers don’t die, they just lose interest.”

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