"Every career has several milestones, and I have reached my last one," said Steve Lewis, chief credit officer with Farm Credit Services in Jonesboro. "With mixed emotions, I announce my plans to retire June 30 after 36 years with Farm Credit."
With those words, Lewis will embark on a new, exciting chapter in his life.
Raised on a cotton, soybean and wheat farm in the Lost Cane community of Mississippi County, Lewis earned his college degree at Arkansas State University in 1967 and immediately went to work in the industry as a loan officer for Lonoke PCA. After three years, Lewis left for a short stint managing a central Arkansas cattle company. But realizing his heart was in credit, he returned in 1972 becoming the branch manager in Star City for the Pine Bluff PCA.
These early years introduced him to new types of farming and provided him with a solid foundation in agricultural credit that he would use for decades to come.
"It was a little bit of everything back then," he said. "I serviced dairy, cattle, fish and poultry farmers, in addition to the traditional row crop operations.
In 1977 Lewis made the move to Forrest City and the rest is history. He served for several years as an assistant to the Vice President of Credit for the Forrest City PCA, all the while continuing to gain valuable experience especially through the 1980s when credit was tough to administer. In 1986, Farm Credit Services of Eastern Arkansas merged with Farm Credit Services of Northeast Arkansas which brought Lewis to Jonesboro.
"I feel privileged to have served as chief credit officer for the association since April of 1987. It has been my good fortune to work with colleagues whose sole purpose is to serve the farmers of Eastern Arkansas," Lewis said.
"My career has afforded me the opportunity to work with farmers from South Arkansas to Grand Forks, North Dakota, and I can say without reservation that the farmers of Eastern Arkansas are some of the best in the country."
At a recent board of directors meeting Lewis was quizzed about his retirement plans.
"I am going to work for my neighbor," he joked. "He does nothing every day and never starts before 10 a.m.
In reality, Lewis and his wife, Susan, will continue to reside in Jonesboro. Their plans are to travel, fish, play golf and do more work for their church.