When Eliu Romero returned to Taos from serving in the U.S. Navy and Merchant Marines, he finished law school and prepared to open an office. He sought a $50 loan from a bank to buy office furniture, so the story goes.
He was turned down. And that moment made him determined to open a bank in Taos.
"His dream became reality for our community when Centinel Bank of Taos was opened on March 1, 1969," wrote Maria Meadowcroft in a recent notice of the bank's anniversary celebration.
The bank opened with a mission to serve "all the people, cultures and languages of the Taos County community," according to a history of Centinel Bank of Taos on the institution's website.
Its mantra remains: "Founded here. Focused here."
"Through the years Centinel Bank has evolved into a strong and stable financial institution while remaining focused on its mission. Today Centinel Bank, a local, state and national award-winning bank, remains Taos' only locally owned and operated community bank," Meadowcroft wrote.
"Thank you to our customers, employees, and community for supporting us, said Angel Reyes, president and CEO of Centinel Bank in a statement. "We are honored and privileged to serve you and committed to serving Taos County for many years to come."
The bank's founder started a legacy within his own family. His son Martin and daughter-in-law Cheryl helped guide the bank to new success.
Then in 1999, Romero's granddaughter Rebeca Romero-Rainey, was appointed Centinel Bank's president and CEO. She was the youngest bank president in the United States, and one of only a few Hispanic women in charge of a bank.
In 2016, she was elected chairperson of the Independent Community Bankers of America, a trade organization representing 6,400 community banks. This year she takes over as president and CEO of the organization, based in Washington, D.C.
Now under the direction of Reyes, Centinel Bank continues to pride itself on building strong local relationships.
"At Centinel Bank our employees focus on providing unequaled personal service with every experience. I'd like to thank the many talented employees who work hard each and every day and those who through the years have dedicated time and service to building our strong foundation. It is through the hard work of these employees that Centinel Bank remains a successful, strong and stable community bank," said Reyes.
Centinel Bank serves customers with three locations, electronic banking services and a range of deposit and lending solutions for personal and business needs.
Centinel Bank also provides scholarships, internships and mentoring to local youth.
During the month of March Centinel Bank will display photographs of the bank's history in the main branch lobby. For more information about Centinel Bank visit centinelbank.com.