Elizabeth “Joann” Ayerza has handled the banking needs of customers as well as their children and grandchildren in her more than 50 years at the Bank of America branch in Kerman. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz
Written by Donald A. Promintz
A Kerman bank teller is showing no signs of slowing down, even after more than 50 years behind the booth.
Originally from the Stanislaus County town of Newman, Elizabeth “Joann” Ayerza came to Kerman when she was a year old. In 1962, she began working at Bank of America. Back then, her job was working the NCR Post Tronic, a machine the size of a car’s dashboard that was used to ensure accurate recordings of customer transactions.
The next year, however, she temporarily left the bank when she married her husband, Tony Ayerza, and had two children. But in 1969, she came back as a teller, following a brief stint at the Wells Fargo branch in San Joaquin.
During Ayerza’s time behind the booth, she’s seen many changes in the Kerman community, watching it grow from a population of 2,000 to about 15,000 today. That time’s also seen a dramatic change in the technology used by banks. It’s a change Ayerza welcomes.
“When I first started, when you cashed a check with a customer at another branch, you didn’t know the funds were there — you had to call the branches,” she said. “You didn’t do it on your computer. And once that went to that advantage, everything was so much better.”
Most notably, she’s seen longtime customers start their own families, and now their children and grandchildren are doing their banking with her as well. This includes her own daughter-in-law, who used to come in with her father.
Her work and her place in the community haven’t gone unnoticed by her customers, either. Jorge Garcia is one of these customers. A Fresno resident who works in Kerman, he said Ayerza has greeted him at the counter for five decades.
“She’s a wonderful person,” Garcia said. “Really, really a wonderful person.”
For recently arrived Manager Courtney Salinas, it’s also been extremely helpful in getting her acclimated to the community in Kerman.
“She’s liked by all clients, all associates. She knows everyone in town, so it’s nice when a client comes in, she was great about, ‘this is my new manager,’ ‘this is so-and-so,’” Salinas said. “So that was a great welcoming.”
Today, Ayerza is 78. And while her husband has retired from his electrician’s job to farm, and while her children are in their 50s with young ones of their own, she still loves her extended family at the bank.
“I love the customers. I like my job. I enjoy going to work,” Ayerza said. “If you have a hard time getting up and thinking you have to go to work, then it’s not a good job.”