Chachati takes a break to smell the roses

Debi Chachati (left) stands with Tammy Dale (right) at the Capital One Bank Donaldsonville Branch during her final days of work.

Debi Chachati enjoys taking time to smell the roses in life, but for the past 34 years she has only been able to get a quick sniff of the sweetness because of her career in banking. Now she’ll be able to stop, take a sniff and repeat if she chooses as she has officially retired as the assistant manager at the Capital One Bank in Donaldsonville.

“I just enjoy life and I’ll have more time to enjoy more of it,” Chachati said.

Chachati started working in banking in 1979 at a bank known then as State Bank and Trust. The bank changed its name to Hibernia in 1995 and that’s when she moved closer to Donaldsonville. After another name change in 2005, Chachati retires as the assistant manager at Capital One Bank, Donaldsonville Branch.

“The legacy that I would like to leave here is that I have helped people and been kind to them and maybe even made their lives a little better,” Chachati said, “That’s what I strived for.”

Chachati, who’s been living in Donaldsonville for 39 years, said she feels like she is homegrown here. She is married to Richard and has one daughter, Dawn, who is married to Larry Dunn, and two grandchildren Carson (13) and William (12).

With a small home family, Chachati branched out to inspire lives in the community where she said she feels respected. Throughout the 34 years of professionalism, she also was a community activist.

In 1998 she was given the Woman of the Year award for the Donaldsonville Chapter of Business and Professional Women’s Organization. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Council on Aging in Donaldsonville and on the Board of Directors for the Donaldsonville AARC.

Of her 34 years in banking, 25 of them were served in a management position and Chachati said she is ever grateful for the opportunities she’s been afforded.

“I’ve enjoyed meeting and networking people,” Chachati said. “I’ve learned a lot through the years and I’ve never stopped learning because of the changes in the banking industry.”

However Chachati did not experience the banking changes alone. She spent her entire career working with the same person - Tammy Dale, who serves as the Capital One Donaldsonville Branch Manager. Dale attests that the company mergers weren’t always easy, but she and Chachati remained side by side.

Chachati was offered an opportunity to serve as manager at a branch in Baton Rouge, but she politely declined for the lesser role in Donaldsonville.

“It was the best decision I made in my life, to stay in Donaldsonville,” Chachati said.

Dale said even though she’s the manager, Chachati has taught her so much and that she looks up to her. She said Chachati’s compassion and “vibrant personality” has inspired her over the years.

“I’ve never met a person so kind, positive and happy,” Dale said about Chachati. “I’ve watched how she treats her customers and I’ve just admired her. I’ve so truly admired her and how she’s handled herself.”

Chachati admits that it won’t be easy parting from what she and Dale describe as a relationship better than marriage. The two acknowledged in their years working together there was never any bad blood brood between them. The hardest part of retiring for Chachati is missing the interaction of her customers.

“I will greatly miss my co-workers and my customers,” Chachati said. “I’ve been waiting on generations of families here and I love that. I have seen their children and in some cases their grandchildren.”

“Developing relationships not only at a bank level, but you get to know these people personally and when you go somewhere you see the people and they make you feel respected,” Chachati said.

She said she’ll miss the hi’s and bye’s and being able to sit and talk to people about their lives. She said having them trust her enough to open up has been the biggest thing to her.

“To be able to say I have gained trust from most all my customers,” Chachati said.

Dale describes Chachati as more than a “hi and bye” banker, she said Chachati has been a great confidant and encourager. She said Chachati’s service to the customers has been “exceptional.”

“She has been an important contributor to the success and growth of Capital One’s Donaldsonville Branch,” Dale said.

Now that she is retired, Chachati said she’ll be able to step back and smell the roses.

She said she is going to continue to be involved with the community, but also be able to spend more time with my family.

“I have an elderly father and I want to spend more time with him. I want to taxi my grandchildren. Maybe learn how to cook,” Chachati said.

She said she will probably be back in the bank and come about once a week, maybe more than that, she said.

“I’ll definitely stay in touch with my coworkers and keep close connects.”

Chachati added, “I hope I’ve made somebody’s day a little brighter and hopefully changed some of their lives.”