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Selma Bartlett Elementary School named for Henderson banker

Selma Bartlett has maintained a lifelong mindset that inspired her to help others.

"If you work with people, they will pay you back," Bartlett said.

Since 1954, she has worked with and helped people in the Henderson community.

Her payback came Feb. 13, 1990, when the Clark County School Board decided to name a new elementary school at 1961 Wigwam Parkway for her.

"I was shocked beyond words," Bartlett said. "I just couldn't believe it."

Bartlett, 84, developed her mantra from living during the Great Depression. She was born in 1927 in Oklahoma and grew up on a farm.

"Farmers don't always make a lot of money," Bartlett said. "During the Dust Bowl, my family couldn't make payments (on the farm)."

Her family often had to plead with banks to be lenient when they were seeking money the family did not have.

"The banks worked with us," Bartlett said.

Fast-forward to 1954. Bartlett's husband, Troy, who died March 27 at 86, was to be stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, causing Bartlett to leave her home and her job as a banker for nine years.

"My boss was very upset I was leaving," Bartlett said.

Bartlett's boss, however, made a few phone calls to make sure Bartlett would have a position at a new bank, Bank of Nevada, in the newly incorporated townsite of Henderson.

"I started Feb. 21, 1954," Bartlett said.

Bartlett worked for the bank until 1995, when it merged with Wells Fargo.

She transferred to Bank of the West until she retired in September 2009.

Bartlett said she was able to serve the community through her 60-plus years working at the bank.

"I love helping people," Bartlett said.

Her most rewarding experiences have been helping doctors get business loans to start private practices.

"A lot of doctors already had $200,000 in medical loans," Bartlett said. "The bank takes that into consideration (when giving out additional loans)."

As a banker, Bartlett served as one of the first female bank officers in Nevada and as vice president of the National Association of Bank Women from 1958 to 1960.

Bartlett also served as an instructor at Clark County Community College from 1979 to 1982 and the American Institute of Banking.

She has served on advisory boards for St. Rose Dominican Hospital, the State of Nevada Economic Development Board and the Henderson Boys & Girls Club.

Her devotion to the community has earned her the National Jewish Humanitarian Award and honors from the Henderson Chamber of Commerce.

Lorna Kesterson, a former mayor of Henderson, contributed to a letter to nominate Bartlett's name for the new school. The letter stated: "S he has given unselfishly of her time over the years to many civic and business organizations in Southern Nevada.

"Selma Bartlett has maintained a position of respect in Henderson and has made no secret of her affection and pride in the progress that Henderson has achieved. A school named in her honor would be a fitting testimonial to her community spirit."

Even though she isn't working at the bank, Bartlett said she hasn't retired.

"I don't think I will ever really retire," Bartlett said. "I still have former customers calling me for advice, and I help them."

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at or 387-5201.