Wayland B. Lennon

No discussion of Fairmont's financial institutions is comprehensive without mentioning Wayland B. Lennon of Waccamaw Bank and Trust Company. Mr. Lennon was named the Cashier and officer in charge when the bank opened in Fairmont on January 2, 1934. For the next twenty-five years he operated the bank as Cashier, then as Vice President. He was the face of the Waccamaw Bank in Fairmont and was primarily responsible for its success in town.

Wayland Lennon was born in Lennon's Crossroads, Columbus County, North Carolina on March 14, 1903 to Prichard Lennon and Vera Elkins Lennon. He grew up in Chadbourn, NC and attended the University of North Carolina, graduating in 1927 with a degree in Banking. He worked for another bank prior to joining Waccamaw Bank in 1930 as Cashier in the Chadbourn office.

When the bank's petition with the NC Banking Commission was approved in December, 1933, Lennon was named Cashier and officer in charge of the new Fairmont operation. Having been without a local bank since the closure of the First National Bank of Fairmont in the spring of 1933, Fairmont townspeople and merchants welcomed its arrival.

For the next 25 years Lennon would build the Fairmont branch into one of the strongest in the Waccamaw Bank system. He was from the beginning active in community affairs, having been named secretary-treasurer of the Fairmont Marketing Company, a farmer-business cooperative set up to market different farm products grown in the area. Their first foray was into soybeans, which proved so successful that they tried other farm products as well.

Lennon joined the five year-old Fairmont chapter of the Rotary Club and was quite active. During World War II he was highly involved with the various money-raising operations promoted during that time. He was chairman of several War Bond Drives for the Fairmont area and under his leadership always exceeded Fairmont's allocated quota, many times leading Robeson County in percentage of quota sold. He did the same with the various Red Cross fundraisers and USO drives during the same time period.

After the war ended, he was actively involved in trying to secure industrial development for the area. He was a member of the Fairmont Development Corporation and the Fairmont Investment Corporation and helped secure the "Pajama Plant" location here in the mid-1950s.

Lennon married Leona Lewis of Tabor City February 13, 1932. In 1934 daughter Knight was born and in 1940 son Wayland Jr. (Butch) was born. They built a home on Church Street in the early 1940s and Butch continues to live there.

In the 1930s and 1940s Wayland Lennon would have been described as a debonair bon vivant. He was a sharp dresser, enjoyed good food and drink and was the life of every party he attended. In the 1950s he was so well thought of by the stockholders of Waccamaw Bank and Trust Co. that he was offered the presidency of the company. He turned them down, telling them that he and his family were "at home" in Fairmont and wished to continue living here.

Lennon died of a myocardial infarction on March 21, 1959 at the age of 56.


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