ADAMS -- If not for a chance meeting at a gas station, the banker who became known as "Joe T" might have never existed.
After graduating from college in 1972, Joseph F. Truskowski Jr. spent three months working as a credit analyst for a bank in Pittsfield and didn't like it. Stopping for gas one day in Adams on the way to work, he met a representative of Adams Cooperative Bank.
"How'd you like to come and work for us?" is how Truskowski remembers the conversation.
"I said I'll give it a try," Truskowski said, "and 40 years later, I'm still there."
Now, that long career has come to an end.
Truskowski, 62, will officially retire as the president of the Adams Community Bank at the end of December. Except for his three-month stint in Pittsfield, Truskowski's entire 40-year career was spent with the same financial institution. The former Adams Cooperative Bank merged with the South Adams Savings Bank in February to form the Adams Community Bank.
Truskowski became president of the Adams Cooperative Bank in 1989, then spent the last 10 months in the same capacity for the newly merged institution. The new bank's current CEO, Charles P. O'Brien, will also assume Truskowski's duties as president. O'Brien had served as president and CEO of South Adams Savings Bank before the merger.
"This had already been in the works for a couple of years," O'Brien said. "At both banks, I was president and CEO and so was Joe. What we agreed to do in the initial phase was that I would be CEO and he would be president. On his retirement, I would take both back. It was a long-term plan in the sense of the merger. Now that's he's officially retiring, I'm getting both."
Truskowski, who turned 62 in July, said that he and his wife, the former Marilyn Collins of North Adams, had both decided to retire this year when they reached that age. Truskowski marked his 40th anniversary with the bank in September.
"I made the decision basically two years ago," Truskowski said. "I planned it long before the merger discussions started.
"I could have retired earlier," he continued. "It wasn't a goal to merge before I retired. It just happened that way."
A 1968 graduate of the former Adams High School, Truskowski joined the Adams Cooperative bank as a loan officer in September 1972, then was promoted to assistant treasurer and manager of the bank's North Adams branch two years later.
When he went to North Adams, the bank's president at the time, Richard Wagenknecht, began referring to Truskowski as "Joe T" in marketing materials so he would become better known to the public.
"And it stuck," Truskowski said.
That name is still relevant today. In honor of Truskowski, Adams Community Bank will be holding a "Farewell Joe T Day" on Wednesday, Dec. 19, for customers and staff at the Park Street branch in Adams.
In the 1980s, Truskowski began serving on a variety of nonprofit organizations and financial service industry boards. He is currently a corporator of both the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Foundation and Northern Berkshire Health Systems and he's a trustee of the North Adams Public Library.
"I'm going to take some time and make decisions about exactly what I'm going to be doing," Truskowski said, referring to his future plans. "I do enjoy kayaking in this area, and I will continue to be involved with certain organizations."
"I certainly wish Joe well," O'Brien said. "I would say he's going to be missed by customers and staff alike."