A different kind of love story

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By Wendy Hoffman

This is a love story but not just about a couple. Rather, this happily-ever-after tale portrays two people, their family and true love for their hometown.

In Northern New Mexico, the name “Enloe” conjures up one image — Los Alamos National Bank. William (Bill) Enloe, as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since 1994, is synonymous with LANB. He’s known for such nationally distinguishing honors as capturing the Baldrige Award for Quality (presented by the President of the United States, George W. Bush) or for being named as a director of the Federal Reserve Board in Denver.

If those achievements illustrate his stellar climb up the career ladder, they do not tell the story of his real success — joining with the love of his life in reaping the best from their community while in return sowing seeds of its growth.

Bill Enloe came to Los Alamos in 1955 at the age of 6 when his parents, Carl and Lillian, moved him and his three siblings here. He started first grade at what was then Little Forest Elementary, remaining until the end of second grade. Finishing grade school at Aspen, he went on to Pueblo Junior High and Los Alamos High School (LAHS), graduating with the class of 1967. Bill earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Eastern New Mexico University in Portales and is an alumnus of the School of Banking at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Meanwhile, Phil (founder of Los Alamos Technical Associates — LATA) and Beverly Reinig brought their six children to Los Alamos in 1965, registering their eldest daughter, Kathleen (Kathy) as a senior at LAHS where she would graduate in the spring of 1966.  She preceded Bill by a year in entering Eastern, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and Biology.

Dating “off and on” throughout college, they went their separate ways when Kathy received her degree and left for Phoenix to teach physical education. Because, he said, he “really missed her,” Bill traveled to Arizona during spring break 1971 to propose by asking, “Would it help if we went to look for rings?” She said, “Yes, it would,” and they were married June 12, 1971, at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church on Canyon Road. Bill completed his undergraduate work during summer school while Kathy ran the recreation program at Cannon Air Force Base, returning to Los Alamos in August to begin a life-long love affair. Bill was hired by Los Alamos National Bank as a “Management Trainee,” and Kathy became a school secretary at Pueblo.

Three children, Aaron (1975), Colleen (1977), and Tracy (1980) filled the years and firmly anchored Bill and Kathy to the community. Because Bill received chances for many professional opportunities in the banking world, the couple was continuously renewing their commitment to Los Alamos. They were “really tempted” to leave only once when, in the mid-1980s, Bill was offered the presidency of Vail National Bank. “We looked very seriously,” they said. “We like to ski, so Vail was tempting.” But, they said, “We had grown up here. We sat down and talked about our lives, about the kids. We talked about this town and all it has to offer – education, safety, closeness, culture, the mix and variety of people. Vail is very different.” The clincher was the June snow on the ground in Vail at the time of their interview. “It was cold in Los Alamos,” Kathy said, “but it was colder in Vail.”

They agree their decision to stay home was a good one. “This is definitely where we were meant to be,” Bill said. And that’s how Bill and Kathy Enloe came to represent the essence of Los Alamos – growing up here, raising a family and pursuing individual interests - taking advantage of all the town has to offer.

“On the professional side, it’s always been a challenge, always been rewarding. I’ve never hit a wall,” Bill said. “The bank has been good to us. The board has treated me well, and we’ve understood each other’s roles, which is very unique today.”

As for Kathy, she made a “cognitive decision” to be herself and “not live in (Bill’s) shadow all the time.” She also had to re-learn the meaning of sharing. “I’m from a big family, and I thought I knew how to share. Well I didn’t. I learned to share my husband’s knowledge and his energy level as well as his interests.”

And she’s had to share him with the bank, the town, the state and even the national finance community. But she also made personal choices to live her own life as an active working mom. “I’ve enjoyed my jobs,” she said, noting that she started with the schools and then, for 10 years, was employed in the Chamber of Commerce office, because she wanted to understand “the ins and outs” of the local business climate in which Bill was so involved. She concluded her career as a travel agent, which she says “was a fun one. I learned, I really learned – geography!”

Like other Northern New Mexicans, the Enloes pursue leisure interests, too. He spends his free time sailing, reading, fishing and they love to golf together. She likes quilting, bowling, sailing and skiing — but most of all being a grandma. Thanks to daughter Colleen, the family is part of a relatively exclusive group — four-generation Los Alamosans. She married a hometown boy, Roy Van Tiem, and presented her parents with two grandsons, Rhett and William (Will). The Van Tiems live in White Rock. Tracy and her husband, Lance Stallings, (also an LAHS graduate) are in Bozeman, Mont., while Aaron is a businessman in Santa Fe.

What were the most significant events in Los Alamos during their lives here? The Enloes’ answers may be surprising but definitely represent their individual perspectives. No mention of the Cerro Grande Fire or the University of California losing the national laboratory contract; rather, they focus on what has made the community the jewel they believe it is today.

“I was young at the time, but the privatization in ‘63 was a really big deal,” Bill said. “That’s when the town began the era of being a community. People began to think of things outside their jobs at the lab; they were thinking of the future of the town. It was really exciting.”

Rather than a specific happening, Kathy recalls a changing attitude. “It was the way it evolved as a home town,” she said. “It became home. People used to talk about ‘going home’ to wherever they had come from, but that slowly went away, and this became home. It was so nice.”

Reflecting on life during this 60th anniversary year, the Enloes continue to cite Los Alamos’ virtues. “I really like everything here,” Bill said, “but what I like most is that the people are independent; they think for themselves. The town is not dominated by a political machine. Making progress may seem difficult, but when we do make progress, it’s for the right reasons, not because of some influence like money or politics. That’s refreshing and unique in the world. So many community governments are driven by motives that might not be best for the communities. I think that’s why we have a safe, good community. It’s not like this in most places.”

Kathy’s views are more personal. “I think if anyone has the opportunity to move here and raise their family, this community is the crème de la crème.”