CORNELIUS – Kenneth “Buddy” Caldwell, chief lending officer and one of the original employees for Cornelius-based Aquesta Bank, is retiring at the end of April, after 39 years in the banking industry.

“Buddy was an Aquesta Bank employee before there was an Aquesta Bank,” Aquesta President and CEO Jim Engel said in a news release. “After an initial coffee shop meeting, I met with Buddy in the basement of my house to formulate plans for a new Lake Norman community bank. Buddy drove to my house on his Harley wearing black leather chaps.”

Born and raised in Davidson, Caldwell graduated from North Mecklenburg High School, married his childhood friend, Judy, and attended the University of South Carolina on a football-baseball scholarship. He played baseball for the Texas Rangers organization.

As a teen, he got his first job at Hoke Lumber Company in Davidson and, at 23, took his first banking job as a loan officer for Piedmont Bank & Trust in 1972. He has since served in various lending and executive roles at Piedmont, First Union National Bank and, for more than 19 years, First Charter Bank. He then helped to start and lead Aquesta as chief credit officer, commercial lender and executive vice president.

In retirement, Caldwell plans to spend time with his children and grandchildren, ride his Harley and brush up on his golf.