October 9, 2014 at 9:59 PM CDT - Updated July 10 at 5:21 AM
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX)
Another year means another celebration. Thursday was a historic day for Hancock Bank as it celebrated its 115th birthday.
"I'm 93-years-old, and I was at the last one in Bay St. Louis, the 100th, and I just made up my mind if I was going to be at many more, I better come to this one," Joyce Castor said.
Castor is the granddaughter of one of the enterprising individuals who joined together to open the first Hancock Bank on Oct. 9, 1899. She says it means a lot to her to be a part of this special celebration.
"It's just part of me, you know. When I think of Bay St. Louis, Hancock Bank comes out," Castor said.
It all started with a vision. In 1899, 19 South Mississippians took $10,000 and invested it into a bank whose core values were to help local people succeed. Over a century later, the bank and the community are celebrating that continued relationship.
"The theme really is all about the community. You know, the bank and the community growing up together from 1899 forward," the bank's CEO and Chief Operating Officer, John Hairston, said.
Dozens of people gathered at Lighthouse Park to remember the challenges the bank has been through over the years. One of the biggest was Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.
"So much of the banking business transacted through computers and through networks. All of that was gone. So, we had to go back to 1899, and it was about people, trusting people," Hairston said
Employees say that relationship allowed the bank to bounce back after Hurricane Katrina. The trust that his company will continue to succeed is what has kept Brent Fairley as an employee for more than 20 years. He says it means a lot to him to be a part of this company milestone.
"This is a celebration of the bank, but it's really more than that. It's a celebration of the Coast, because they are one in the same, the bank and the Coast, and we look forward to many more years together," said Fairley.
The big celebration honored people and traditions that often set the Coast apart. One of those honorees was United Way, who received a check for $90,000, which they will use to disperse back into the community.