Renie Strzelecki wanted a job — any job — when she interviewed for her first position at TCU in 1971. She planned to stay for a year then move on to become a nurse. Nearly 50 years later, Renie has retired from a legendary TCU career, taking a wealth of institutional knowledge with her.
A party Monday afternoon celebrated Renie and her decades of service to the credit union and its members.
“Renie’s a light, always shining bright. She unfailingly paid attention to members with empathy, assisting however she could," University Park Service Center Manager Chris Griggs, who supervised Renie in recent years, said. “She’s gone to members’ homes to balance checkbooks, she’s visited members in nursing homes, she’s shoveled members driveways with the help of her husband when snow prevented them from getting out. Renie has a big heart.”
Having a heart full of compassion and a desire to help and inspire others helped grow Renie's career. When she started at the credit union, her first boss, Dick Deranek, assigned her to the backlogged filing room.
“I don’t think they had filed since 1931,” Renie recalled in 2017, when she became the credit union’s longest-serving employee. “I said, ‘I’m going to file and I’m going to be efficient and quick, and if I do a good job, they’ll give me additional responsibility.’”
That’s exactly what happened. Renie’s reliability and increasing experience with different aspects of the credit union’s business made her an asset in innumerable ways.
Renie worked with Derenek on TCU’s first mergers, became supervisor of the clerical pool when the credit union moved to Jefferson Boulevard, then secretary to President and CEO Ben Hawkins. She later worked as a membership officer, opening new accounts, and spent more than 30 years in Human Resources, working at first with Paul Szymanski as a two-person department serving 150 employees. Later Renie served as director of recruiting where she interviewed job candidates and implemented an assessment system designed to hire the right person for the right job.
“Having Renie as a mentor over the years has been critical to many managers’ professional success,” Griggs said. “She has a special ability to lead and motivate colleagues and help others excel in their careers.”
TCU has been such a part of Renie’s life that she even married a fellow employee. They assumed they couldn’t have a relationship while they both worked at the credit union.
“I said to Dale, ‘I started first. You go. I am not leaving,’” Renie said. “However we talked to Mr. Hawkins and he gave his approval to continue our careers.”
After decades at TCU, at age 59, Renie wanted to challenge herself with a new role working at a service center.
“I was a little nervous because I didn’t know the system at all,” Renie says. “You do everything in the branch. I never was a teller. I got myself back there and I learned everything that’s involved — the whole operation.”