PNC Bank recognized long-time area resident Bill O'Neal for 45 years of service to the company at a luncheon on June 17.

    Years ago, when William “Bill” D. O’Neal walked into the Middletown High School guidance counselor’s office, the counselor gave him a tip for a job. He took the tip and years later on June 17, 2008, his co-workers held a luncheon and awarded him for 45 years of service at PNC Bank.
    “PNC is fortunate to count Bill as a valued employee these many years, and we’re proud to honor him for this major career milestone,” stated PNC President Connie Bond Stuart in a press release.
    O’Neal is a long-time resident of the Middletown-Odessa-Townsend area. He was born in Wilmington in 1945 and moved with his family to Townsend in 1950. He attended Townsend School (now Townsend Elementary School) until finishing there and moving on to MHS. During his adolescent years, he worked in grocery stores.
    “I’ve worked ever since I was 12-years-old,” O’Neal said.
    Around his graduation in 1963, his guidance counselor asked him and another student if they were interested in working at Odessa Bank, then located on Odessa’s Main Street.
    “Someone had come to the guidance counselor and asked if any students wanted to go into the banking business,” O’Neal said.
    Both he and the other student accepted and began careers in the banking industry. O’Neal started at Odessa Bank as a bookkeeper. The position was eliminated after nine months, but O’Neal then became a teller, and later a teller supervisor. In 1973, he became the branch manager of the Odessa Bank for two years, but he was soon called upon for an entirely new job: opening a whole new bank in Middletown on Main Street.
    “We kept the Odessa branch open, but we felt we needed to open a Middletown branch,” O’Neal said.
    O’Neal said he remembers getting the word out about the new bank, now knwon as the PNC?Bank on Del. 299, by canvassing the town. He and others would knock on doors and tell them about the new bank.
    He managed the Middletown location for 27 years. In 2001, he took on another job change when he became a business banker. He became vice president of the business banking unit in 2006.
    O’Neal said in all his years in the banking business, only a few major  things have changed. The Odessa branch closed and became part of the Historic Houses of Odessa, and another PNC Bank opened in Dove Run Center when PNC bought Mercantile Bank. Other than that, the biggest thing to change about the day-to-day business is technology.
    “I never thought I’d learn how to do computer work, but that’s all I’ve used in 15 years,” O’Neal said.
    He also said the banking business in general has become more competitive.
    “There are as many banks as there are pizza shops,” he said.
    The customer base has changed a bit, too. He said before those who banked at the branch were all community members.
    “Now we have people who are traveling, commuting,” he said.
    O’Neal lives in Drawyer’s Creek with his wife. He has a son, a daughter, a son-in-law and a grandson.
    When he’s not working at his job, he’s doing work for the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce, the Middletown-Odessa Rotary Club, Associated Community Talents, Inc., and the M.O.T. Big Ball Marathon. He has held leadership positions in most of these groups and is president of the board of directors at the M.O.T. Jean Birch Senior Center.
    He said working for all these groups can give him busy weeks, but he feels it’s worth it.
    “The community has done me well by letting me be a part of it and sell PNC’s products and services,” O’Neal said, “and I try to give back in the same way.”
    O’Neal may get a bit of a break, however.
    “Unless they make me a deal I can’t refuse I’m going to retire in January 2009,” he said.
    O’Neal said he plans to golf, travel and spend time with his grandson upon retirement.