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Retirement

Time for a reset. Yellowstone National Park, 2009.

Today my father, Robert (“Bob”) Skurka, finishes a 44-year thru-hike of the banking services industry. Like most long walks through the wilderness, his career gave him purpose and identity, and included both peaks and valleys. I’m unconvinced that he’ll take to a conventional retirement — to an even greater degree than his successor, he quickly gets restless — but I’m hoping that a few weeks or months at home will help inspire his next act.

By the mid-1980’s — when my earliest memories begin — my father was settled at Durfee-Attleboro Bank in Fall River, Mass., as a commercial loan officer. It would prove to be the position that he was best at, that he enjoyed the most, and that he would finish his career with in 2018 at Bristol County Savings Bank in Taunton.

Essentially, my father worked with established local companies that needed extra capital, like to fund inventory, purchase new machinery, or construct a new office building. Making loans that only occasionally crept into 7-figures was not as sexy as investment banking, private equity, or venture capital, but everyday he helped small business owners fulfill their goals, feed their families, and create jobs. My dad took his work seriously, often to the detriment of his personal well-being; and, based on his narrow extracurricular interests, it seemed to intellectually satisfy him.

During the consolidation of the banking industry in the 1990’s and early-2000’s, he had the experience of being both the acquirer and the acquiree. Durfee-Attleboro became South Shore Bank, where he was a Senior Vice President until BankBoston took over in 1994 and consolidated the corporate hierarchy.

Trying times followed. The family finances got tight, especially when his unemployment surpassed his severance. I trace my own frugality to this period, specifically when my mother — while driving the streets of Seekonk in our royal blue Caravan — disclosed the situation and asked me to be more conscious of my needs and wants.

But even tougher to manage during this time was my dad’s loss of self-worth. Dad always saw himself as as provider for my mother, sisters, and me — and he no longer was. Dad is also a doer, and without a project to focus his energy he will drive everyone around him nuts.

My second day in Colorado after a father-son road trip from North Carolina to Boulder. Rocky Mountain National Park, May 2003.

But it can’t always get worse. And his next employer, FirstFed of Swansea, Mass., would change his fortunes. He oversaw the Business Banking division as a Vice President, and financially benefited when the bank went public in 2001 and was purchased by Webster Bank in 2003. He is loyal to a fault and hung on with Webster longer than he should have, but finally jumped to Bristol County nine years ago.

This proudly local and old-fashioned institution became the perfect exit, by governing my dad’s hard-working instincts. He couldn’t access his email from outside the office. He had to leave promptly at 5pm, when his Pawtucket branch closed. Management tasked him with informally training younger loan officers. And the bank paid for golfing tournaments so that he could golf with clients during the summer. Each fall when my dad would complain about needing to work five days per week again, I knew that his time was near.

What’s next for Bob? I don’t know, and neither does he. For now, I wish him the best, and a huge congratulations for everything he has done. I’m sure there’s another walk in him still.

Love you, Dad.

20 Responses to Retirement

  1. Russell J April 6, 2018 at 11:51 am #

    What a nice tribute. Well done by both you and your dad.

  2. Randy April 6, 2018 at 1:24 pm #

    This is wonderful. All the best to you both.

  3. Hunter Hall April 6, 2018 at 2:45 pm #

    Awww man. That’s a nice tribute. 🙂

    My dads retiring in Jan after 45 years in insurance. Unfayhomable.

    Cheers to the fathers!

  4. Rob M April 6, 2018 at 5:23 pm #

    Good for your dad! Best wishes to him. I lived in East Taunton from 1995-2001 then down the street in Berkley where my ex and I had house built until 2007. I banked at Bristol County savings the entire time I lived in Mass. Now I’m back in Littleton, Co where I was born and raised. Small world.

  5. Judy Garber April 6, 2018 at 5:27 pm #

    What a lovely tribute to your dad. Thank you for sharing

  6. Mary St Amand April 6, 2018 at 8:14 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Andy. All of us who know and love your Dad are so proud of his dedication to his career. He has helped so many people get a good start, including giving me great advice as I started my veterinary practice. Alan and I have had the privilege of meeting many of his customers at bank events at PBruins hockey games and Pawsox games. Every one of them considered him a friend, as well as their advocate. Knowing Bob, he will find a way to continue to help people with the knowledge and experience he has acquired on his journey. I hope his retirement is a great new chapter!

  7. Kris April 7, 2018 at 5:45 am #

    That was a kind, insightful,respectful and honest tribute. Thanx for showing the way.

  8. Julia Simpson April 7, 2018 at 8:43 am #

    Wonderful tribute to your dad and a life of providing for others. Great to see you writing, Andy. Your last Mj showed up on my page out of the blue!

  9. Ben April 7, 2018 at 3:20 pm #

    Really beautiful.

  10. Steve Sims April 7, 2018 at 7:54 pm #

    Well done to both you and your dad. I suspect he will find another cause and reason to believe.

  11. Alan April 7, 2018 at 8:30 pm #

    Nicely written!

  12. Mark Turner April 8, 2018 at 6:31 pm #

    Fantastic tribute, my best wishes for you both.

  13. Dave R. April 8, 2018 at 11:35 pm #

    Love how you teased “Retirement” in the title and we all sweated bullets thinking that YOU were hanging up your UL trail runners. Great post and congrats to your dad. Sounds like he and mother taught you a lot.

    • Andrew Skurka April 9, 2018 at 8:47 am #

      Wondered if anyone would have that reaction. I think I still a few decades in me though, at least on the hiking front.

  14. Joe April 9, 2018 at 1:00 pm #

    Very cool. Best to your Pop.

    I wasn’t nearly as defined by my work as he apparently was, and retirement has been a pure joy to me.

    Long runs. Backpacking. Playing my flute. Drinking beer.

    I hope he finds a satisfying retirement as well.

    Speaking of your writing, you are very good at that kind of work, Andrew.

    I hope you find a good reason to write another book someday.

    Carry on!

  15. JoeMc April 9, 2018 at 9:59 pm #

    Happy for you guys. It’s always so good to hear about people that do the ‘right thing’ and end up with a good result, even more so when it’s a lifelong story like this.

  16. Sam Dunn April 12, 2018 at 8:44 pm #

    Andrew, you were blessed with a great Dad…And Bob, with a great son! The best is yet to come…

  17. Doug K April 13, 2018 at 1:45 pm #

    thank you, that is beautiful.
    Bravo ! to your dad, for making it all the way to retirement.

    si monumentum requiris, circumspice
    is the epitaph of Sir Christopher Wren – if you seek for his monument, look around you. It always seems to me appropriate for the men like your father, who did the right thing and helped the people and community around them all their lives. Though happily your Dad is still building..

  18. Dave Eitemiller April 14, 2018 at 3:00 pm #

    You writing this says a lot about who you are. Well done!

  19. PackmanPete April 15, 2018 at 1:43 pm #

    Good post. Tell your dad, “welcome to the club”. It’s good to have short and long term goals in retirement or laziness can creep in. It’s good to have mentors also, from Warren Buffett to Billy Goat.

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