Louise Hinton, a force at the credit union and in life


(Submitted photo)

Published: Monday, November 19, 2012 at 5:04 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, November 19, 2012 at 5:04 p.m.

Friends, family and archival newspaper clippings paint Louise Hinton as a pioneer for women in the world of business.

Hinton worked at the former Campus Federal Credit Union for 35 years, eventually serving as the CEO. She died on Nov. 6 after having major surgery. She was 87.

Originally from Connecticut, she moved to Gainesville in 1953 with her husband, Charles Hinton, who attended graduate school and later worked as a soil scientist at the University of Florida.

Friends and family remember Hinton as a generous woman who was passionate about the credit union. She promoted the business and served its members with great enthusiasm, former board member of the credit union Winton “Skip” Williams recalled.

“Louise saw it as friends helping other friends,” Williams said. “It was the mutual part of the credit union that appealed to her.”

Hinton started out as an accountant at the credit union. She was self-taught, daughter Sally Hinton Post said, with no formal training in the field.

Straight out of high school, she traveled to New York for nurse cadet training at Mt. Sinai and Columbia Presbyterian hospitals. There she met Charles Hinton, who was in the merchant marines.

Once at the credit union, she rose up the ranks, ultimately becoming the CEO.

Post said her mother taught her early how to save money. She opened her first account at the credit union at age 5 with $3 that she had saved in pennies.

Son Charles “Chic” Hinton Jr. said many people in the Gainesville community were affected by his mother’s welcoming presence at the credit union.

“Back in those days everybody knew the Louise Hinton name, because the credit union was small and the university was small,” he said.

At his former job managing the IFAS extension bookstore at the University of Florida, he was bombarded with stories about his mother. “‘Are you kin to Louise Hinton? Oh, I know Louise Hinton. She got me my first loan at the credit union,’” he recalled in a typical conversation.

Post remembered her mother telling stories about how the business world was dominated by men at that time. Post said her mother traveled to Australia for a conference and came back reporting that the women attending the conference received neckties as gifts from the hosts.

“She didn’t gripe. She had a way of knowing when to speak and when not to,” Post said, calling her mother an “eternal optimist.”

Post said Hinton personally hired many women at the credit union.

“When we were growing up, it was mostly women that worked for my mother,” Post said. “She saw the potential in people. She was never just going to have people be an hour clerk. She furthered their careers.”

Hinton would have a hot meal on the table every night, even when she was working full time, son Chic Hinton remembered.

Friend Bev Browning said, “She was a superwoman. She was ‘the everything’ before we figured out we could really do that.”

She was skilled at quilting, sewing and knitting and as she got older she began to hold knitting circles to teach others her craft.

In their early years in Gainesville, the Hinton family of six lived in a two-bedroom home. The two sons had a room of their own while Hinton and her husband shared a room with their two daughters.

Hinton taught her children to be frugal, Chic Hinton remembered.

“I was in the ninth grade before we got a television set, so we went to the drive-ins a lot and we didn’t have a lot of money, so we never went to the concession stand because it was so expensive. So before we’d go, we’d pop a big bag of popcorn, you know, and we had to take our own drinks there,” he recalled.

In 1984, Hinton was diagnosed with cancer and underwent radiation treatment. She emerged from the treatment successfully and continued to work.

When Hinton retired in 1990, she continued to engage with the community. She worked as a Pink Lady with Shands at the University of Florida and logged more than 20 hours weekly at the hospital’s gift shop.

“She left the credit union one day and went to Shands and Pink Ladies pretty much the next day,” Chic Hinton said.

Charles Hinton died 12 years ago, but Louise Hinton continued to live alone and be fiercely independent. She moved into an assisted living center about a year ago and even there she thrived, becoming active in many programs, her family said.

When she went into surgery in early November, she was in good spirits, her family remembered.

“I fed her a milkshake. I held it for her and she drank it. She was fine when we left her. We got a picture of her in the emergency room; she was smiling and happy,” her son said.

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