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Hard Work Defines Imperial Beach Resident Pat Hutchins

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Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 12:23 pm

Some people know her as a bank president and later a realtor in Imperial Beach. Patricia Hutchins has been a hard worker her entire life. She grew up on farm in Grandview, Texas with no electricity or running water. Her younger years were busy with farm chores before and after school - milking the cows, feeding chickens and horses. To wash up she had to get water from the well and heat it. It was probably that lifestyle that made her the strong woman and hard worker she has been throughout her life.

As a young girl Hutchins wanted to be an actress and attended Texas Christian University for one year on a full scholarship as drama major. She then switched schools and studied accounting instead.

When she met and married her husband Joe, a Navy UDT man, the young family moved first Ocean Beach and later to Imperial Beach in 1957 where her youngest daughter was born two months later. Her oldest, at the time, was 18 months old.

When her husband was deployed she felt alone. “Like any young Navy wife with babies I wanted my mother and I went home to Texas,” she recalled. Her baby was three months old when she traveled on the train to Texas. It was a difficult trip with little ones and having to sterilize baby bottles, but she made it work.

Hutchins has a real sense of humor and still laughs when she recalls the story of how she had asked her husband in a letter what he thought of her going home. By the time she got the answer she was already in Texas and his answer was that it not a good idea.

When she first met her future husband he was wearing his white Navy uniforms and she was sitting behind him in the church pew. She and a friend stole his white hat and wrote all over it. The next time they saw each other at another church function he told her “As soon as I set eyes on you, I knew it was you who wrote on my hat,” she recalled. When Hutchins got married she was two days shy of 19 years old. The couple was married for 62 years. Her husband passed away four years ago.

In 1959 when her girls were still young Hutchins decided to get a job. She found out that the local bank had openings. She was hired as a secretary on Aug. 11 by Security First Bank in Imperial Beach located in the shopping center at Palm and Ninth. Within the next month she was going to school three nights a week to study banking.

“My first job was to fill ink pens with ink,” she recalled. Hutchins was a quick study and was wiling to work hard and learn everything there was to learn about banking. She became a loan officer at a time when women did not hold those jobs, eventually rising to vice president at Bank of Commerce and Balboa Bank then president at First International Bank. She recalls how banking was done by hand and adding machines. She credits a regional manager Lloyd Johnson, who later became a president of the largest bank in the U.S., for helping her became a loan officer. He told her, “I have never seen anybody so thirsty for knowledge.”

In those days her bank had 28 employees, of those eight were tellers while the rest of them worked in the background, so everything would stay in balance. “All of those jobs are no longer available and if you want to be a loan officer now you have to have a four-year college degree. There are a few places for you to start,” she said.

As a woman working in banking she was often the only female at meetings. “The entire time I was president of the bank I was one of only four in the state,” she said. While Hutchins enjoyed her work in banking she preferred dealing with customers than working with staff. She was always a stickler for rules and caught people coming in late for work. In her work, Hutchins faced some challenges but she was confident. “I never had men say to me you ‘don’t understand’ or bully me. If they were not nice they learned to be nice,” she said.

Often at conferences she was the only woman there out of 600 bank presidents and her husband the only male spouse.

Hutchins has always been straightforward and continues to be that way. “I never put off telling people if they did not qualify [for a loan.] I was honest,” she admits.

Hutchins believes you make your own luck and recalls it was not easy to work all day, have a family with two little girls and go to school three nights a week, but she made it through.

Hutchins is her own woman. “I don’t like to sit, have coffee and listen to somebody else’s problems I like people. I like to work. It’s a strange phenomena. I don’t like TV or movies. I read a lot. My mom once told me, ‘Pat, you’re just as you can be, but you’re not like any other people,’ ” she recalled.

Hutchins was one of eight siblings. She has vivid memories of cutting wood with her brother in the summer and hauling it to the house to stack for the winter. Hard work never fazed her even when it got in the way of doing more fun activities. She recalls one Sunday before going to college she was all dressed up to go to church with a boy. Her dad asked her if she had milked the cows. She answered “No, sir.”

“Do it,” her father told her. So Hutchins had to change, back into her work clothes, milk the cows and change back into her church clothes and then go out.

“That was the work ethic,” she said. “That’s why I’m not a good housewife. I didn’t do that. I worked. I always had a housekeeper. Nobody ever asked me for a recipe in my whole life,” she admits. Hutchins feels lucky she found good caretakers for her daughters when they were growing up.

Hutchins retired from banking after a 35-year career and thought she would stay home. For six months she made scrapbooks for her children and grandchildren then she grew tired of the inactivity. Her husband had become a realtor before his retirement from his 23-year career in the Navy and had bought the realty building on Palm Avenue in 1971 made of redwood, still the current office of Hutchins Braudaway Realty. Up to her retirement Hutchins had only been at her husband’s office a few times over the years. But when she became bored of retirement she decided to start going to the realty office to see what she could do.

She didn’t think she would like the real estate business. “I never liked salesmen I don’t like to sell, I never had an interest… but then I like it,” she recalled.

So Hutchins started her second career working in the realty office first as a secretary. “I’m a scorpio. I’m smart. I came in kissing the ring. I had a desk and stayed in the background,” she said. But because she knew so many people in town, customers started going to her to sell or buy homes.

“I worked for two years before I signed a check. He wanted to be in charge,” she said of her husband who was old fashioned.

Hutchins enjoyed her work in real estate. “I liked working, the people, the product and at the end of the transaction I wanted everybody to be happy - if they are not, I’m not,” she said.

Over the years Hutchins has also been involved in her community. She was president of the Chamber of Commerce for eight years, Business Improvement District chairman for three years, Board of Director of the Salvation Army Advisory board for 32 years and chairman for 10 years. Because she worked at a Chula Vista bank she also was involved in that community as well spending three years at Chula Vista Community Redevelopment Agency.

After 25 in real estate Hutchins is now semi-retired. A few months ago she sold the realty business to her business partner George Braudaway. Hutchins still works as a consultant and gives expert witness testimony in court.

When she and her husband moved to Imperial Beach in 1959, the city was newly formed and the couple got to meet the founding fathers. The city was almost rural with only a few sidewalks and mostly dirt roads. Over the years Hutchins said she has heard it all before. Back when her husband was president of the Imperial Beach Chamber of Commerce in 1976 residents were worried about the city becoming gentrified, there was too much construction, and there was a desire for the city to stay the way it was.

Hutchins has lived in the same house for 48 years. The house was originally located in Imperial Beach until San Diego annexed that part of the city.

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