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Tom Dutton: Putting the finishing touches on a career in banking


When Tom Dutton retired in February, a little bit of Cornelius’ financial history will retire with him. The long-time banker, who will be 73 in June, got into the world of finance large and small back in 1966, when Cornelius was a burg, the lake was new and doctors were few and far between.

Dutton, who helped open the new Bank of the Ozarks office on West Catawba, joined First Union National Bank right out of UNC-Charlotte where he graduated with a degree in business administration. He and future wife Ann had grown up in the Nevin Community on the north side of Charlotte by Hwy. 21. Both he and Ann—they’ve been married 50 years—graduated from North Mecklenburg High School, as did both their children.

His Cornelius connection began with a bank. First Union stationed him in  Gastonia for seven years, then they bought the old Bank of Cornelius/North Mecklenburg Bank, where interestingly enough, Town Commissioner Woody Washam’s mother worked for many years.

Best Advice: “Try to find something where you have a real interest, where you can grow in your occupation and career and where you can be satisfied that it is rewarding to you. Too many poeople work in jobs they hate and don’t feel rewarded.”

— Tom Dutton

He’s seen Cornelius grow, too. He was a member of Cornelius’ medical development committee, a group of citizens who took it on themselves to  recruit doctors to Cornelius—this, during another Hong Kong flu epidemic in 1972. There was even a group that sought to consolidate the three tiny towns of  Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville into one. “We never could put it together,” he said.

The two-time cancer survivor was also president of the Cornelius Lions Club back in the day when service organizations were where men of good will gathered to do good things. Dutton was also on the YMCA board, the board at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church and a leader at Boy Scout Troop 10.

He also worked for Lincoln Bank and Piedmont Bank, retiring once before, from 2007 to 2011, when he started with Bank of the Ozarks. Along the way he became a trusted advisor and banker to literally thousands of people. Small-town banking was really relationship driven, and these relationships can be testy.

The high and mighty have their ways. Best to leave it at that.

“I look at various buildings all around here, and I helped finance them. This was a great place to be a banker because we always had good business going on,” Dutton says.

The life-long businessman plans to keep his hand in finance as a financial advisor and a loan broker who finds the cheapest money and the friendliest terms.

As to new hobbies—there won’t be any. The Duttons are already the grandparents of two, not to mention their warm, special relationship with another young family and their children.

“My first hobby is playing with the grandchildren,” Dutton says. The senior Duttons are well-known for attending church every Sunday with their grandson Tyler, whose parents are daughter Susan and son-in-law Monte. Mark Dutton and wife Heather brought the Duttons another grandchild, Jordan.

Indeed, Tom says he is proudest of his family. “We raised two children, married to people we love, and each has a child. It has just made our life complete.”