Shellie Norris Hines

Shellie Norris Hines

It never occurred to Shellie Hines of Beauclerc that she was forging a path for other women when she graduated from Jones Business College and accepted a job at Florida National Bank in the 1950s. It was a rarity then for women to build an executive trust management career in Jacksonville’s banking and financial industries.

Hines_04“In the early 1950s, when ladies still wore hats and gloves, I went to work in a temporary clerical position in the old Marble Bank Building at Laura and Adams Street. Then Wayne Cahoon, Florida National’s Vice President of the Trust Department hired me as his secretary. I frequently saw Ed Ball, whose office was also there; a whirlwind of activity always surrounded him,” Hines said. “My career advanced and by the early Seventies I was elected Junior Trust Officer. In 2001, when I retired after 48 years, my last position was Vice President and Trust Officer. I was among very few women to be given a title.”

Jacksonville’s top financial institutions were a far cry from Hines’ rural upbringing on a cattle and vegetable farm on U.S. 41 near Stephen Foster State Park, White Springs. One of four daughters born to Forrest and Marie (Box) Norris, their farm was the only one in the area not growing tobacco as the main cash crop.

“My father worked an outside job, at Duval Engineering and Contracting, so we weren’t entirely dependent on farm income,” said Hines, who will turn 81 this September. “Everyone helped with chores…even in the cold months we gathered pecans from our grove. Mother’s friends came over to quilt…my sisters and I played under her quilt frame. We were stair-step children, close in age.”

Hines_06The Hines family valued education and hard work. In 1952 when Hines, 17, graduated Valedictorian of White Springs High School she received a Florida State University scholarship. She declined, instead moving to Jacksonville to work her way through college.

“I knew my parents couldn’t afford any expenses and I didn’t want to live on a farm forever,” she said. “So I rented a room in a private big old home downtown near St. John’s Cathedral from Miss Ellend. I had a nice room upstairs next to hers with a hot plate (no meals provided) and we shared her refrigerator. I attended morning classes, then worked part-time at Duval Jewelry Company, in 5 Points.”

Hines_02Later Hines moved into a three-story girls’ boarding house, The Elizabeth Edgar Hall est. in 1910 at 119 W. Beaver Street near First Baptist Church. Its beautiful grand staircase stood just inside the entrance. Approximately 20 young women from North Florida or South Georgia, including her younger sister Bobbie, boarded there while attending school or working.

“We actually had a house mother and 10 p.m. curfew! We had to call ahead if late or we could be locked out,” she said. “Only breakfast was provided. There was a large comfortable living room and piano. Guests were allowed, but only on the first floor. We walked downtown and felt safe, even at night, or over to the store in the St. Johns Apartments for ice cream and our parents didn’t worry about us. We shared one house phone.”

In 1955, eager for a kitchen and home-cooked meals, the Hines sisters and three girlfriends rented an apartment in a building at Park and Cherry Streets which still stands. Through another student, Shellie met Gerald Hines who drove all five girls to the grocery store, skating or for picnic lunches at the beach.

Hines_01“At that time no one owned a car, everyone rode buses, so Gerald always had a car-full and was happy to take any of us wherever we wanted to go. He was originally from North Carolina and drove a real sporty blue Oldsmobile. Our friendship led to our wedding in 1956 and 41 happy years of marriage until he passed in 1997,” she said.

Hines served four years overseas in the U.S. Air Force as a radio operator and head of communications. After his discharge he worked for the Auchter Company and for Anderson Masonry & Construction until his 1965 retirement. The couple lived on San Marco Boulevard and later bought property on the Northside, where Hines designed and built their second home near the Trout River. The Hines moved to Beauclerc when there were only 12 homes on their street. San Jose Boulevard was a dark two-lane road with pine trees and little else. They had no children, but dearly loved their family and friends’ children.

Hines_07Hines was a member of the National Association of Bank Women, which promoted women in business careers, and a charter member of Uptown Civitan Club. Civitan’s first president, Judge Virginia Beverly, was her dear friend and mentor. Hines is an active member of P.E.O. Jacksonville Chapter (Philanthropic Education Organization for women), and the 21 Club women’s investment group that meets at San Jose Country Club. She’s a choir member and volunteer at Southside Baptist and enjoys gardening.

“We kept the Box Farm that’s been in our family since 1936 when grandfather Box purchased it, where mother always had an open door policy. We have wonderful family holidays together…always a big crowd where all are welcome,” she said. She’s glad to still have two of her original Beauclerc neighbors, Bob and Gail Reese and Claudette Long, living nearby. Hines feels blessed to have all her siblings and their families, including four nephews and five nieces in her life.

By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

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