Mae Beth Palone, who led the IBAT Leadership Division for the Independent Bankers Association of Texas for many years, passed away on June 25 from injuries sustained in a car accident.
Palone was born in Klamath Falls, Oregon, but thought of herself as a proud Texan. After moving to Sweetwater, Texas, and attending Baylor University in Waco for two years, she found the “allure of the University of Texas at Austin too much to pass up,” according to her obituary. While attending the University of Texas, she set a pattern for the rest of her life as one of the greatest fans of Longhorn football. “She was not a fair-weather fan,” the obituary notes. “As a longtime season ticket holder, she celebrated the wins and commiserated with the losses, but always looked forward to the next season.”
After graduating from the University of Texas with a degree in journalism—and a Texas Exes lifetime membership—Palone found a new home at the Texas House of Representatives, working with State Representatives Elmer Martin, Walter Grubbs, Jimmy Mankins and Foster Whaley. She culminated her career at the Texas House as chief of staff to Robert Earley.
With her knowledge of the Texas Legislature, Palone started a new career with the Independent Bankers Association of Texas in 1994, serving as government relations officer. At IBAT, she continued her relationships with many of her legislative friends and found another family among the IBAT staff and community bankers across Texas.
Palone was promoted to vice president at IBAT in 2000 and in 2004, she took the reins of the IBAT Leadership Division. Established in 1985, the IBAT Leadership Division is comprised of banking professionals who have dedicated themselves to the preservation and growth of independent community banking and have their sights set on expanding their leadership roles in the financial services industry. During her tenure, she also implemented a regional governance structure and mentored future leaders of the Texas banking industry.
“Mae Beth was never more proud than when playing mother hen to the men and women who led the IBAT Leadership Division,” says Christopher Williston, IBAT CEO. “Under her leadership, the division grew to almost 600 members and raised countless PAC dollars to support community banking in Texas. Mae Beth was feisty and funny, a gifted writer and a friend of par excellence. We are grateful for her gifts and her life. We will miss our dear friend.”
“I had the privilege and pleasure of working closely with Mae Beth for more than 20 years,” says Steve Scurlock, IBAT director of government relations. “I showed up at IBAT a few months after she arrived and, after apparently passing muster, we enjoyed a close and outstanding working relationship and a true friendship that I valued highly. She was clearly a ‘one of a kind’ individual with a strong work ethic, snarky sense of humor and terrific knowledge of and connections within the Texas Capitol. She was perhaps the most organized person I’ve ever known and had very strong opinions on virtually everything. Mae Beth was a joy to be with and I am grateful that my wife Becky and I were able to spend some quality time together several weeks before her accident. I am honored—and blessed—to be counted amongst her many friends.”
“I started working at IBAT more than 24 years ago, and Mae Beth was the first to reach out and invite me to a group lunch to welcome me,” says Darlene Revers, IBAT member engagement manager and a woman Palone called her “bestie” at the association. “We were pretty much as thick as thieves after that! She was my absolute best friend, sister and confidant. She was Lucy to my Ethel and oh how we laughed and amused those around us. She was always there for me and helped me so much over the years, most recently this March when Mom was dying. She came to the hospital every day to sit with me and Mom. She helped me grieve for Mom’s loss as she knew that deep pain herself. I am devastated. I saw Mae Beth the day before and she died and she looked wonderful. I am in shock, yet I still thank God every day for her presence in my life. Hook ’em Horns, Mae Beth!”
Palone retired from IBAT in 2017. During the 85th Texas Legislative session that year, Texas State Representative Tracy King introduced a resolution before the Texas House of Representatives honoring Palone for her life’s work. In retirement, Palone enjoyed time with family and friends, travel, reading, Hallmark movies, her “fur babies” (Bailey and Pepper) and, of course, U.T. football. Her life was complete when she became the adored “Nana” to her granddaughter Lorelei.