At the Heart of Lyle
by Chelsea Cliff
May 17, 2016
Over two decades ago, one of Sterling State Bank’s valued team members began her career in banking. This spring Cheryl Retterath, the Vice President of Sterling State Bank’s Lyle, MN office, celebrates her 25th anniversary. Even more remarkable, her entire banking career has been spent with the same community bank.
Cheryl’s colleague in Lyle, Tara Gemmel also has cause to celebrate, as it is her 14th anniversary. For both Cheryl and Tara, their anniversaries just happened to fall on the very same month. Prior to working in Lyle, both Cheryl and Tara worked at Sterling State Bank’s Austin, MN office.
“I always knew I wanted to work in a bank and I had a social connection that resulted in an interview with Sterling,” said Cheryl. “All these years went by very fast!”
Born and raised in Austin, MN, Cheryl who lives just outside of Lyle, enjoys spending time with her husband of 46 years, Alan, and their extended family. With 2 sons, 10 grandchildren, 1 great-granddaughter, and 1 great-grandson, there’s so much to be thankful for! “I’m so proud of my family,” says Cheryl.
Besides family time, Cheryl also enjoys staying actively involved in the community. Whether it is through her involvement with the Community Education Board, the Mower County Relay for Life or the Zonta Club of Austin, Cheryl never stops working to give back to her community.
“Zonta is an international club that helps women and children globally,” explains Cheryl. “It has been a privilege being part of Zonta for the past 18 years and part of Mower County Relay for Life since 1992 and the committee for over 5 years.”
On her role with the bank Cheryl says, “Everyday you learn something new, it’s a great atmosphere, and I really like working with customers!” Memorable moments in banking for Cheryl included winning a contest to open the most new bank accounts (with her prize she was able to plan a week-long trip to California!), meeting new customers, and all the warm friendships developed through the course of her banking career.
“One time around Easter, I got a phone call from Tara saying our manager had been in the Lyle branch office after hours. We were worried about what was going on!” Cheryl recalls. “Then we found out that he had hid Easter eggs in the office, as part of the Austin branch’s annual scavenger hunt!” Tara laughs at Cheryl’s story from her desk across the room. It’s clear the two enjoy working together, are great friends, and have had many memorable moments with Sterling.
Tara grew up traveling the country with her family while the majority of her relatives continued to reside in Austin, MN. After a job in real estate and at another bank, she made the switch to Sterling State Bank, in 2002.
“I love working here. I’ve learned a lot, met a lot of people and made lasting friendships,” Tara says. “It’s wonderful how easily both customers and co-workers become a part of your daily life!”
Tara also pays tribute to the important mentorship role that Sterling State Bank’s previous Lyle branch manager, Linda Ellis, played in her life. “She [Linda] influenced me the most,” says Tara, reflecting on her early career with Sterling State Bank.
Asked what she enjoys most about working for Sterling State Bank, Tara explains “Sterling is very accommodating to employees lives, they have strong values, are family oriented, and they care.” Tara also reflected on how much banking has changed since she began working in the industry. “Previously we had to send in proofs of checks and now we image the checks ourselves at each branch!” Cheryl also described some of the change that she’s experienced. “Banking has seen tremendous changes in compliance requirements, and at the same time more convenient options for customers like drive-through, online banking, e-statements, and mobile banking.”
When not working at the bank, Tara enjoys spending time with her family. Her daughter and granddaughter live nearby while her son has recently relocated to Denver. Last summer she went to visit him, and enjoyed the opportunity to visit Colorado.
Asked how customers might describe her Cheryl said, “Funny and love to visit but also takes care of the customers needs.” Tara said, “Definitely trustworthy and knowledgeable.”
For both Cheryl and Tara, providing the Bank’s customers with a great banking experience is what community banking is all about.
Q & A – Just for Fun:
Q: What would you do for a career if you weren’t doing this?
Cheryl: Find something that helps people – non-profit or volunteer.
Tara:Stay at home mom – take care of others.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do?
Cheryl: Spending time with my family!
Tara: Re-doing my house, if I could I would repaint it every season.
Q: What’s the best place you’ve traveled to and why?
Cheryl: St. Maarten, as the island is divided into two different cultures so you can experience both in one place. It is also a very relaxing atmosphere!
Tara: Denver, Colorado to see my son.
Q: Who is your role model, and why?
Cheryl: My husband who has stood beside me through thick and thin and believed I could do whatever I set my mind to!
Tara:As far as my career goes, Linda Ellis was a great mentor and had over 30 years of experience in banking.
Q: If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?
Cheryl: A phone for communication, clothes, and food.
Tara: A boat so I could leave. Or my kids and granddaughter.
Q: What are you proudest of?
Cheryl: My family.
Tara: My kids.
Q: What is your spirit animal and superpower?
Cheryl: I think a squirrel, I'm always busy!
Tara: A cat; I’m in tune to people’s feelings and like to know what’s going on, but also enjoy relaxing and doing my own thing.
Other Fun Facts:
Tara: I can tell who a customer is just by the way they walk in the door and up the steps, before I even see them. Each person has a unique entrance!
Cheryl: We had a lot of fun dressing up for Halloween in Austin.
Tara: During a tornado three years ago, across the street, the roof of a building across the street blew off and flattened my and Cheryl’s cars! That was pretty memorable!
Cheryl: We bought a trailer two years ago and go there a lot on weekends, it’s in Waterville on a lake. The kids and grandkids come visit us there.
Cheryl at her desk in Sterling State Bank's Lyle branch.
Tara at her desk in Sterling State Bank's Lyle branch.
The original safe inherited with Sterling State Bank's Lyle branch.
The front door of the branch and view across the street.
A cannonball safe that also came with the original building.