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13 December 2006

Music and MBA from JSU:
Major Determinants in Life of Local Banker

Reprinted here in its entirety.

If Margaret Harrington Roberts ever gets tired of the banking business, she can always go back to her second love — piano.

Growing up in Omaha, Neb., Margaret had two older sisters who took piano lessons. When Margaret mentioned to her mother that she wanted to play the piano, her mother didn’t take her too seriously because her older sisters had lost interest in their lessons.

However, her mother agreed to the lessons and was soon surprised —and happy — to see how earnest Margaret was about the piano.

Margaret remained serious about the piano and enrolled at the University of Nebraska in Omaha where she studied piano. It was there that Margaret met, fell in love with and married another musician, Jim Roberts. Jim, a native of Massachusetts, was stationed in Omaha with the Air Force and played trombone in the Strategic Air Command Band.

A few years later Margaret earned a master’s in piano at the University of Iowa.

She and Jim moved to Jacksonville in 1974 when Jim accepted a job with the Music Department at Jacksonville State University.

For the first few years they lived here, Margaret had a piano studio in her home.

“I hadn’t really intended to have a piano studio, but at that time there weren’t many teaching opportunities on the college level in terms of teaching piano,” said Margaret.

When their daughter, Meghan, who now teaches third grade in Villa Rica, Ga., enrolled in kindergarten Margaret started on a path to another career. She enrolled at JSU and eventually earned a master’s in business administration.

“That’s what got me into banking,” she said. “It was a smart move. I think we all get to the point where we stop and say what would I have done if I hadn’t done this.”

Margaret has spent the past 18 years in banking. She started her career with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as a bank examiner and then worked with SouthTrust for 17 years. In March she was named Anniston Market Bank President for Wachovia. In this position, she is responsible for retail and wholesale banking for Wachovia in Calhoun County.

“I think the merger of SouthTrust and Wachovia was a very good merger,” said Margaret. “I do a lot of business development for the bank and I’m out of my office as much as I am in it. I’ve always taken whatever job I have done seriously, so I guess I am my own stress maker.”

Margaret and Jim have been married 35 years. They are members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Anniston.

Margaret is on the boards of the Anniston Museum of Natural History League, United Way of East Alabama, and the YMCA. Next year she will be chairperson of the Strong Kids Campaign for the YMCA and on the Chamber of Commerce Board. She is also a member of the Anniston Morning Rotary Club and Women’s Executive Network.

She enjoys reading books by Southern writers.

“I started a book club seven years ago,” said Margaret. “We gather monthly and read all kinds of books. There are 10 of us in the group. The neat thing is there are women from Jacksonville, Anniston, Oxford and Pell City. We’re a very diverse group which makes it fun.”

She said whenever possible, she tries to squeeze in some exercise.

Margaret said that back home in Omaha making Christmas cookies together was an important part of her family life.

“That was always a fun time of the year at our home,” she said. “My mother was a very good cook. She wasn’t a gourmet cook, just a very good cook. I think you learn by seeing and being a part of that.”

Margaret said that although she, her three sisters and their brother are spread out all over the country, they manage to stay in touch often.

“I had a really happy childhood,” she said. “My mother and father were very much oriented toward family, so we did a lot of family things together. One of my favorite was making popcorn on Friday nights. We also played a lot of games together.”

Her father worked for the Union Pacific Railroad and, as their children got older, her mother went back to teaching.

“We all had chores,” said Margaret. “And my mother, being the teacher, had charts of what we were supposed to do. My younger sister and I were supposed to at least get dinner started and set the table.”

Margaret said her favorite thing is baking and Christmas is her favorite time of the year for that. She also likes to make Scrambled Egg Casserole on Christmas morning. Tomorrow Salad, she said, makes a pretty holiday dish.

6 eggs
½ lb. bacon, fried crisp and drained
6 slices of bread (remove crust, cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
½ t. salt
½ t. pepper
½ t. dry mustard
½ t. paprika
1 T. bacon drippings
2 cups milk
Butter 9x13 pan. Spread bread and crumbled bacon in pan. Beat eggs, milk and seasonings together and pour over bread and bacon. Refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

2 eggs beaten
Add ¼ cup sugar and ¼ cup vinegar to beaten eggs
Cook mixture over low heat until thick and add 2 T. butter.
2 c. miniature marshmallows
2 c. fruit cocktail (drain very well)
2 c. sliced pineapple (drain very well)
1 cup Cool Whip
After dressing has cooled pour over salad ingredients with 1 cup Cool Whip. Mix and chill overnight.

1 c. sugar
1 c. powdered sugar
1 c. margarine
1 c. shortening
Mix the above ingredients and then add:
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Stir in:
4 c. flour with 1 t. cream of tartar, 1 tsp soda and ½ tsp salt.
These can be rolled into small balls and flatten with a fork that has been dipped in sugar. Or they can be made into cut-out cookies, but chill the dough first (overnight is best). Roll out a small portion at a time, use Christmas cookie cutters and keep the rest of the dough cold. (It’s much easier to work with if the dough is kept chilled.) The cut-out cookies can be frosted or sprinkled with colored sugars. Bake about 10 minutes.

Melt in top of a double boiler:
48 caramels
7 ½ T. evaporated milk
Mix together:
1 c. flour
1 c. oatmeal (regular, not instant)
¾ c. brown sugar
½ t. soda
¼ t. salt
¾ c. margarine
Mix margarine into this mixture like piecrust. Press half of mixture into 8”x 11” pan.
Sprinkle 1 c. of chocolate chips and 1 c. chopped nuts over first layer
Pour caramel mixture over all and top with remaining oatmeal mixture. Bake at 350 for 15-30, minutes depending on oven. Let cool and cut into squares.

1 c. margarine, melted
6 c. powdered sugar
2 c. peanut butter
Combine and roll into small balls (do not chill)
Dip in:
12 oz chocolate chips, melted with
1/3 paraffin wax bar
Place on waxed paper to let cool and then refrigerate.

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