Self-Help Shares

“Love and Work." Thoughts from a Centenarian Member of Seaway Bank

By staff
  | Apr 29, 2021

Mr. Lee Curry

Mr. Lee Curry during a recent visit to Seaway in Chicago. In October, he will be 102 years old.

When you meet Mr. Lee Curry, it makes you realize it’s not only how long you live—it’s how well you live. Mr. Curry, who is just a few months shy of 102 years old, has lived long. As a veteran, husband, father and superb gardener, he has also lived well. We are honored that he is a long-time member of Seaway, a division of Self-Help Federal Credit Union.

How long has Mr. Curry been with Seaway? He doesn’t know exactly, but he said that for many years he didn’t have anywhere “to put my little bit of change.” He says he has been with Seaway as long as he has been banked.

Mr. Curry was born in 1919 and raised in Georgia by parents who worked as sharecroppers. He served in the Army during World War II, first in Liberia and then in Naples. After returning to the South and experiencing racist treatment from a bus driver, he and his wife, Margaret, decided to move to the Chicago area. There Mr. Curry found employment with the post office. He and Margaret raised two daughters and sent them to college. In their spare time, they also raised many plants and flowers.

Lee Curry served in the Army during WWII

Mr. Curry as a soldier in World War II.

Lee Curry and family

This picture of Mr. Curry, his wife Margaret, their two daughters and grandson was taken at Seaway. For many years Seaway had a tradition of hosting a professional photographer at the bank who offered members the opportunity to get family portraits.

The Currys’ gardening skills are well known in the Chatham community where they live. April Snow, who has been with Seaway since 1997 and now serves as Seaway’s Area Manager, remembers years of serving the Currys at her teller window. “Mrs. Curry used to give me tips on growing flowers,” April said. “After all, she had the best flowers and grass in Chatham.”

Lee Curry's house and garden

Another view of Mr. Curry's garden

The two pictures above were taken by Mr. Curry in 2019. Working alongside neighbors, he continues to enjoy gardening.

Mr. Curry says he has fond memories of his many visits to Seaway. “The people who ran Seaway were always nice, he said. “They treat me like I’m a millionaire. They always took care of me like I was putting in a million dollars.” 

He recalls a time in recent years when his wife was scammed by someone who convinced her to write a check for $800. Seaway was able to get the money back for them. He knows and trusts the people there at a bank that is only around the corner from his home.

Mrs. Curry passed away a couple of years ago, but she remains very much in Mr. Curry’s heart, as do his parents. He says he thinks of them every day and vividly remembers the time when he was a small child and his father tried to tell him about the “birds and bees.” When he was confused, his mother sat him down, asked him to look her straight in the eye, and she said, “The first natural law is love. The second natural law is work. These are the keys.”

Mr. Curry has made love and work the cornerstones of his life.

When asked about the secrets to his longevity, Mr. Curry has several responses. Even now, he is active. “I get up and walk in the morning,” he said. “Not as fast as I used to, but I walk every day. And I do my little stretching I learned in the Army.” He eats a vegetarian diet. He visits with his neighbors, and they help each other out.

“My secret is love and work,” he said. “I stay busy and I don’t worry about nothing.”

Mr. Curry, we love you, and we will work hard to keep earning your trust and loyalty.

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