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December 24, 2012

Entrepreneur Roy Shaw remembered as leader with extraordinary vision, business ability

Roy Shaw, a visionary entrepreneur  and founder of Peoples Bank, passed away Friday at the age of 81.

Known widely to the public as the owner of Shaw’s Seafood Restaurant in Holly Pond, his  business ventures extended well past  his popular restaurant, which opened in 1976.

After Roy and his wife, Laudine, were the victims of a home robbery in 1976 after taking their restaurant receipts home at night, the idea to open a bank in 1977 in Holly Pond came to his mind. The Peoples Bank of Holly Pond was chartered in 1977.

Shaw turned to his longtime friend Cee Buck Walker, whose initial investment helped capitalize the new bank. Tom Drake, at that time Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, was responsible for the  charter process.  The bank’s founders and original board of directors were Roy Shaw, Dwight Scott, the town’s mayor, Dane Estes, Tom Drake, and representing Mr. Walker, his son, Alan Walker.

“With Holly Pond having a population of 473 at the time, the idea seemed ludicrous to anyone but Roy,” said Robin Cummings, chief executive officer at Peoples. “Roy had a great vision and  knew how to manage money and people. He could see things that others couldn’t.”

Cummings was hired 30 years ago at Peoples and the bank now has some 25 branches in Cullman County and the surrounding area.

Before opening local businesses, Shaw and his brother-in-law, Buddy Whatley, operated a truck stop in Birmingham. After selling the truck stop, Shaw opened a catfish farm in Cullman County and grew the business into a processing and wholesale operation for catfish and seafood. He then opened the restaurant and later founded Oak Trace Lodge, a drug rehabilitation center.

Holly Pond Mayor Herman Nail said Shaw was a tremendous influence in the town because of his willingness to listen to others’ ideas and support new developments.

“He did a lot of good things for our community behind the scenes, because he didn’t want a lot of publicity. He was open to talking and listening to other people, which is always important in leadership,” Nail said. “When he and the other men started Peoples Bank, that was a huge moment for Holly Pond and this entire area of the county. There wasn’t another bank outside of Cullman, so it meant a lot for the residents and doing business in this area.”

Nail said Shaw’s Seafood Restaurant was one of the region’s most popular dining establishments in the region.

“In the first location, people would line up out the door on Saturday nights. There was always a crowd. Minnie Pearl even stopped in one night  for supper, which was quite a moment,” Nail said.

Shaw passed away Friday, Dec. 21.

David Palmer may be contacted at dpalmer@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 213.

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