By: Charlie Kerwin
Senior Vice President, Information Security Officer
Mary Wenger is retiring with some typical retirement plans. Traveling with her husband. Repurposing and refinishing antiques. Spending time with her grandchildren. But Mary’s story is absolutely her own unique story.
In May 1977, Mary moved to Springfield with her husband Ron’s job transfer. She needed a job.
“The first week of June, I started walking into businesses downtown to apply. I remember walking into the lobby of the previous Illinois National Bank building at the corner of 5th and Washington and thinking this is a beautiful place to work. I applied for any job that was available. Later that afternoon, I received a call from INB and was offered a teller position. I started training on June 7, 1977 and was assigned to the commercial window in the downtown drive-up. From 1977 until 1981, I was a teller, vault teller and teller supervisor, before moving to Data Processing in 1981.” Mary then held the titles of documentation specialist, implementation coordinator and business analyst.
Mary left the original Illinois National Bank in 1997. From 1997 to 1998 she worked for the Illinois State Comptroller, joining JP Morgan Chase 1998. In 2007, Chase gave her a severance package. “I told an employee I had previously worked with at the original INB that I would be looking for a job. Within a few days I received a phone call and was asked to come for an interview,” Mary says. “I got a second opportunity to work with old friends and coworkers . . . It was like coming home.”
While Mary considered a career in social work when she was young, she says she found banking and stayed because the work was challenging. “There was always something new to learn,” she says after 40 years in the business. She looks on the days when she completed projects and/or converted from one computer application to another as especially fulfilling days. Specifically, she notes the WIC contracts, ACH implementations, and remittance projects as giving her a sense of accomplishment.
And through them all, Mary says she has fond memories. “I have known some of the staff for 40-plus years and they are my ‘work family.’ We have shared unlimited fun and a few heartaches over the years.”
What Her Co-Workers Have to Say
“Mary and I met while I was working in the Imaging Department when she came to INB. Soon thereafter, I transferred to the Credit Card Department where our adventures with the IDES pre-paid cards and other card programs began. IDES (Illinois Department of Employment Security) consumed our lives! With the state’s mandate to have pre-paid cards or direct deposit, the program blew up quickly. We dealt with all aspects of the process including funding, maintenance and return of cards, all types of disputes, close to 150 calls a day from claimants throughout the state, and the cash advances at the branches. (Retail felt it just as much as we did!) We worked rigorously to improve and automate the process. Over the years, Mary has been a supervisor, a mentor, a friend and become like a second mom to me. We will NEVER forget the IDES program or all the cleanup for several years after to finally be done with the program completely. After our transition to IT, we picked up the ‘Mama Bear’ and ‘Baby Bear’ nick names by the guys. We’re kind of feisty like that, but we got stuff done! Although our positions have changed over the years, our friendship remained. We still speak frequently and meet for lunch on occasion. I hope for many more of those in the future! I wish Mary a happy retirement with lots of travel and time with her kids and grandkids!”
VP, Deposit Compliance, Corporate Trainer
“It’s been my pleasure to work with Mary Wenger for NUMEROUS years at a couple of different banks, but our time together with INB has been memorable! I first worked with Mary on compliance requirements for the IDES card program. I really appreciate her tenacity and dedication to the compliance process in this area. It’s impressive to have a department manager embrace and enforce the compliance process and then kick it up a notch! Mary was a force to be reckoned with when it came to card fraud, and I’m sure she saved the bank tens of thousands of dollars due to her ability to smell bullsh*t without stepping in it. As she transitioned into IT after the card program ended, I still had the opportunity to work with her on ACH and DLP projects, and she approached these new duties with the same enthusiasm. I really appreciate her honesty, integrity, and ability to ‘tell it like it is.’ Mary – I will really miss you and wish you the very best. I hope to see you during our monthly luncheons when this pandemic crap is over!”
VP, Director of Human Resources
“While I don’t have the history that some INB employees have with Mary, I had the privilege of getting to know her since she has been at the new INB. She is a pleasure to work with – gets business done and then time to chat! I have enjoyed talking about our kids and grandkids and even her future plans in retirement. I wish her the best, and she will be missed.”
Deposit Operations Officer
“I started working with Mary in 2007 in our Card Services Department. Mary was so awesome to work with and is so knowledgeable. I learned so much from Mary, and I’m grateful I was able to work with her. Mary did such fabulous job of keeping our IDES card program organized with the rest of the Card Services staff. Even after we dissolved our department, if I had a project question and needed some guidance, Mary was always there to help and make processes so much easier. I will miss Mary tremendously!”
Vice President, Business Solutions
Mary and I have an interesting history in that we’ve always worked together. We were together at the old INB. Then we worked together at Chase. Then when I came back to the new INB, she was here! And it’s been a great working relationship! She’s been my go-to person on the operations side of the business. If you asked her a question, you knew she’d have the right answer. If you had a project and gave it to her, she was a bulldog. It got done! She held people accountable. She was passionate! Everyone needs a Mary in their corner. I will miss her a lot!
Vice President, Business Solutions
I can tell you that I really enjoyed working with Mary. If she was part of project, you knew the project was going to be done right, well documented, and on time.
She used her history with the bank when she worked on product conversions/implementations. She would dig in to insure a proper conversion – making sure any department that may be affected was properly notified and involved.
She has always been a “go to” person for me – she will be missed!