Helen Seymour has been described as many things: a person of deep faith, resilient, smart, tactful, welcoming, competitive, but in the eyes of Scott, the first word that comes to mind is ‘empathetic’.“Helen gave to others A LOT. And the reason she did so, I think, is because she understood what it was like trying to make it in this world when you come from almost nothing. Her tact and skills made her successful but her empathy is the reason others who came from similar backgrounds also were able to thrive.”
Helen worked hard, not necessarily to make a name for herself, but because she knew no other way. Her approach to navigating her career in the banking industry was rooted in that same drive to work hard and is one of the reasons her bank had one of the lowest default rates on loans in the greater Tennessee area while she was President. This accomplishment could also be attributed to her excellent judge of character. And by this we mean she always gained a deep understanding of the person she was working with, not necessarily the business they were supporting with a loan. Where most banks processed loans based on credit checks and current assets, she knew the success of a person also included factors that were not found on loan applications. For example when Pete Debusk, founder of DeRoyal Industries, came to Helen during the start of his business journey she not only provided him with the loan but also included non-traditional elements, such as payroll, because she believed in him as a person. Pete sought Scott out at Helen’s funeral so he could tell him this story and Pete said, “Without Helen, I couldn't have even made the payroll.”
Outside of business loans, Helen’s empathy extended to situations when most would lose their compassion. During the holidays in 1991 a gentleman attempted to rob her bank. Not only did she volunteer as a captive but as she was held she made it a point to learn about what caused this individual to make the decision to rob a bank. Through conversation she found out the actions this person took were rooted in them not being able to afford a Christmas for their kids. After the robbery the gentleman was arrested and convicted and what did Helen do? She bought presents for the family and a turkey for their Christmas meal. She continued to send them a turkey at Christmas until her death some 25 years later.
Helen also kept a sense of humor even in the most trying of times. During the bank robbery she had an opportunity to escape as the robber was attempting to place her in his car. When asked by reporters why she ran, she said the car was a mess and she wasn’t about to get in.
There are many stories of Helen’s grace and caring spirit as well as her generosity. When she was nearing the end of her life, her rental properties went up for sale. Her daughter, Leigh Ann, asked for the listing price for one of her properties that had a long-term tenant and Helen’s response was “give it to him. He has been paying for it for years.” Her generosity continues to impact others even after her passing. Scott Caldwell, President and CEO, recently learned she had bought and gifted him and his wife, her daughter Robin, a mountain property he had wanted back in the 90’s but could not afford.
In the spirit of mother’s day we would like to end on a story relating to her motherhood. Helen raised five children, four of her own biological children and The Resource Group’s Vice President, National Operations - D. Dewayne Rader.
As stated, it would be nearly impossible to share everything Helen did for her children and her community. There are many more stories we could tell about Helen but hope these few help showcase Helen’s empathetic and caring spirit. She was never wealthy but she was rich in love for people and rich in her strong belief in God. We hope these stories inspire you to reflect on your mothers/mother-figures to not only share their impact but also honor their legacy through living a purposeful life.