Chick Moyer: The Early Years

Chick Moyer was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania to Oney Beatrice Varner and Charles Carpenter Moyer October 25, 1925 and was the only child to this marriage. They lived in a modest but attractive new home in the blue-collar suburb of Roxbury at Johnstown, Pa. His father worked for the railroad division of Bethlehem Steel Company, first as a fireman and eventually working his way up to engineer. This was hard, dirty work, as the engines were fired by coal, hand shoveled from the coal tender car into the firebox. His mother worked as a manager of the china department of the Penn Traffic Department Store. When the Depression hit in 1929, the banks in Johnstown closed and work on the railroad was sporadic, but they survived on small unemployment checks and his mother’s continuing modest income. The Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), a government agency in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration, provided relief for homeowners with real estate debt by declaring a moratorium on foreclosures. This allowed the Moyer family to stay in their home. As work on the railroad became available, Chick’s mother was able to repay the back real estate taxes and eventually the mortgage on the house. He recalls “Mother was an excellent manager of money, and I certainly attribute my financial discipline to my mother’s training during my early years. We operated as a family out of several ‘cookie jars’ and when one was empty, we did without. There was always a nickel for Sunday School.”

Chick recalls that his father worked very hard and provided for his family the best he could when work was available between layoffs and strikes. Like many other railroaders, he played the “numbers game,” which cost about 50 cents a week. He always hoped to hit the “big pot,” which naturally never occurred. This displeased Oney and was a source of irritation. Chick learned from his mother to work hard, save a bit each month, and then be satisfied with what you accumulate from your own efforts. “Only fools seek enrichment from gambling,” a lesson Chick has passed onto his children and grandchildren in his autobiography.

All who are acquainted with Chick today know that he’s an avid golfer. How did that happen with such humble beginnings? It’s a great story so we’re including that here as well. In 1937, at age 12, Chick was old enough to caddy; so their neighbor, Vince Kinney, the greens keeper at Berkley Hills Municipal Golf Course, got him a job as a caddy. The nine-hole course was a mile-and-a-half walk from the family home through the woods above Luna Park. For three years Chick caddied and shagged balls for the course professional, Bert Battell, when he gave lessons off the No.1 tee and between the No. 2 fairway. Bert taught Chick how to run a caddy program and golf shop. His duties consisted of cleaning clubs, sweeping floors and selling merchandise.

Bert Battell was Chick’s first employer and first teacher of golf and business principles. He instilled in him the importance of discipline, punctuality, personal appearance, and the critical principle of how to serve the public. In the spring of 1942, North Fork’s pro entered the service, so Bert arranged for Chick to get the job of running the pro shop for two summers. Duties included cleaning clubs, shining shoes, refinishing woods and selling used balls, as there were no new balls and equipment available during the war years. He lived at the club with several other staff members. The membership was Johnstown professional and business people. The club was 16 miles from town. Due to gas rationing, members came out on a bus during the day and returned in the evenings. Chick met all buses with a club station wagon and provided transportation to the clubhouse – about 1 mile. He recalls “Getting the guys back to the last bus to town at 11 p.m. was a real test after a day of their golf, drinking, card playing and food! While at North Fork, Chick had plenty of time to practice the golf shots Bert had taught him at Berkley. Chick placed third in the citywide caddy tournament, which was won by Frank Kiraly of Sunnehanna Golf Club, who later turned pro. Other memories at Berkley Hills included his hole in one on No 5, and walking up No. 9 fairway on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, when another caddy came running toward Bert to say the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.

From age 12, Chick hunted golf balls in the woods of holes 4, 5 and 8 usually finding enough balls to make several dollars a day. He could get 25 cents for a Titleist in good condition, but the balls cut quite easily in those years. Today, more than 60 years later, Chick still looks for golf balls at Desert Forest each winter, where balls hit into the desert are seldom retrieved by members. He typically takes several hundred relatively new balls home each April for the Wood River High School golf teams.

Chick was able to forego his senior year of high school in 1943 by entering college at Indiana State Teachers College under an accelerated program offered due to World War II. One of his mother’s goals in life was to see her only child have a college education and not have to work in the steel mills. With his savings from caddying and summer work they scraped together enough money for tuition, books and room and board for the semester. The second semester at ISTC offered tuition help through ASTP, the Army Specialized Training Program designed to keep men in four years of college and then to OCS (Officer Candidate School). Due to the intensity of the war with Germany and the heavy casualties resulting in the need for immediate infantry replacements, the ASTP was abandoned. Chick, along with the other male students, volunteered for the Army at the end of the semester.

The Heritage Story
Then and Now
Chick Moyer: The Early Years
Chick’s War Years
Chick Moyer: College & First Career
Wood River: The Value of Friendship
From Steel Country to Corn Country
Building the Team in Wood River
The Stromsburg Opportunity
Opportunity in Aurora
Heading North to Neligh
Growing into Grand Island
Three Became One
City National Bank in Hastings
Kearney Completes Tri-City Operations
Acquisition of Sherman County and Howard County Bank
Heading Northwest into the Sandhills
Peoples-Webster County Bank Acquisition
Leading the Company Forward
$100 Million Reasons to Invest with Heritage Bank
Technology’s Influence on the Industry
More Than Just a Bank
“The Best is Yet to Come”