When pigs fly, or once did, at First Financial Bank

Published 6:33 pm Saturday, January 19, 2019

By Bobby Tingle


Go to the entrance of Shangri La on West Park Street in Orange, and then head east.  As you near the intersection at 16th street you will note a new structure.

It is no secret, if you frequent the area of 16th and Park, First Financial Bank will be moving soon.

Though their home will be new, their presence in Orange is not.  Their history in the community runs deep.

First Financial Bank President and CEO of the Southeast Texas Region Stephen Lee convened a group of local historians recently to discuss plans for a ‘historical museum’ of sorts at their new location.

“Grandaddy did not talk much about the bank, he was too busy with Piggly Wiggly.  But he mentioned Ruby often,” said Tommy Gunn.

Local attorney Tommy Gunn was among those present.  Gunn was referring to Ruby Wimberley, former president, who has a long history with the bank.

Wimberley was also present.  She recalled the early days when the bank was the only place in Orange and Jefferson County offering home mortgages.

She also recalled making a trip to Washington DC to testify before Congress during the perilous days when savings and loan institutions were failing.  First Financial Bank was Orange Savings Bank in those days and proved to be one of a few to survive the S&L crisis of the 1980s and 1990s.

“Most people I talked to were a bit iffy on the idea.  But even today people send me pictures of flying pigs,” said Lee.

Lee was referring to the flying pig, which adorned marketing materials for Orange Savings Bank a few years back.  It was the brainchild of Lee and is a part of their history living on today.

Lee plans to adorn the new building with historical artifacts from their rich history.

The committee is hard at work pulling it all together.

Watch for the grand opening.  I suspect they will extend you an invitation to come by to take a stroll down memory lane.

Bobby Tingle is the publisher of The Orange Leader.  You can reach him at bobby.tingle@orangeleader.com.