Fort Smith High School
Gary Hutson

After high school graduation in 1958, I was hired as bookkeeper at Pearson's Food Store where I financed two years at Ft. Smith Junior College.

Thanks to the Ft. Smith business community who supported students who desired an education.

In August of 1960 I drove to Fayetteville and registered as a junior, being very naive about the cost of University life, even in those good old days. Through the grace of a much higher power, I received a BSBA in 1963 and carried home a few graduate hours as well. After graduation I immediately migrated to Little Rock to look for employment. College majors were accounting, marketing and secondary education. Quickly determining $220 a month, as a schoolteacher, was not just reward for seventeen years of education; I accepted a position with the financial services unit of Winrock Enterprises for $275 a month.

Rewards at Winrock were gratifying. I was the young lieutenant chosen to take IBM training to place my employer in the computer age. Within one year we had placed our accounts receivable ledger on "the computer", complete with punch cards and bounds of print out reports. Soon the general ledger was aboard. I was impressed and felt bold about the future of automation in the area of accounting. I chose not to continue my apprenticeship to pursue CPA certification, wanting to continue in the financial services arena.

In early 1966 Winrock found benefit to sell their financial services unit to the Dallas subsidiary of a traded financial organization with headquarters in Chicago by the name of Walter E. Heller Company. Winrock sold the assets of the unit and me, so I moved to Texas. In 1967 I married the secretary to the president of the company, but resigned shortly thereafter because married couples could not both be employed by the organization and, my new wife was the most financially rewarded. I immediately joined a small financial services company across Main Street in Dallas by the name of Lane Wood and Company where I held the position of Vice President and manager of one of the departments.

During that time, banks were interested in expanding their services via the acquisition of small promising companies, so we at Lane Wood were acquired by First National Bank of Dallas, which later formed the largest bank holding company in Texas known as Interfirst Bank of Texas, which is now part of Bank of America.

I enjoyed thirteen years with First National/Interfirst where I served as a senior vice president, divisional manager, and was later appointed executive vice president of a companion company formed to acquire small lenders in the western sectors of the U.S. Accepting a new challenge, I rejoined my friends at Heller Dallas in 1981 with the charge of revamping and repositioning the company in the Texas and South West market place. At this point I had recently divorced my wife of twelve years, so I focused on rearing my three children and my career for the next thirteen years.

Three years after I rejoined the Heller firm, Fuji Bank of Tokyo found Heller to be a promising business so they acquired both their domestic and international operations. I found myself an executive officer of a subsidiary of the then second largest banking organization in the world. These were exciting and rewarding times as they permitted extensive travel and development of relationships, which would provide long term rewards.

In my position as executive officer of the southwest and southeast sectors of the country, for their financial services division, I was permitted participation in a troika which would overlook design and development of a dynamic information management system, with the trade mark "Orion", which would be state of the art and permit significant cost savings and impressive business growth while also yielding management tools to track control of the largest financial services business of its kind in the U.S.

It was time for a new challenge. In 1993, not choosing to relocate out of Dallas, I accepted early retirement. A few months later I began my own consulting firm where I enjoyed the opportunity to work both domestically and internationally while still being home based in Dallas to support the care of my mother who was in a term care facility suffering from the dreaded disease of Alzheimer's. My oldest son had completed school, the military and was now married. My daughter had graduated from Baylor and was occupied in her career as a graphic designer. Son number two was finishing up his studies in law at Texas Tech. Objectives complete; it was time to again be a married man.

LaVerne VanSavage and I married in 1994. She had relocated to Dallas as an executive with the J.C. Penney Company when they moved the headquarters to Dallas. LaVerne discovered she had breast cancer in 1997. In order to spend more time together and support her cure, I dissolved my consulting firm and again retired in 1999. LaVerne is now a 5+ year survivor of cancer and last April she completed the "Avon Sixty Mile" with 2,500 other supporters in our area, raising 2.5 million dollars for research for "the cure". Together we counsel both men and women who suffer from cancer, offering emotional a spiritual support. Our cancer friends are far away as Pennsylvania and Vermont.

We enjoy traveling anywhere and everywhere, always stopping along the way to antique and search for collectibles. One semester a school term I teach a senior course of transitional mathematics to college bound students at a magnet school in Dallas. These are bright students and the experience is rewarding. We continue to support our church activities and a couple of favorite charities. We are hoping LaVerne can begin restoring a historical home in St. Sterling, Ky. this summer where we will be spending part of our time with grandchildren there and close around.

Together we have five children and ten grandchildren, hoping for an even dozen. Our dream is for a healthy family and an opportunity to tour with them in the Holy Land when world events permit. Life Is Great and God Is Good.

Gary R. Hutson

Class of 1958

24 February 2003