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Las Cruces, NM 88001-3001
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Justin W. Harper

1946 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
Justin W. Harper Obituary

Las Cruces has lost a respected civic leader and trusted member of the banking industry. Justin W. Harper, president and chief executive officer of Citizens Bank of Las Cruces, died Monday, Oct. 13, 2014, of natural causes at his home at the age of 68.

Justin was born on July 13, 1946 in Jetson, Kent., to Jim and Gladys Harper. He was raised in Abilene, Texas. He proudly served in the Air Force in his 20s, and later began his career in the financial industry. Justin graduated in 1972 from Abilene Christian University with a bachelor of science in business administration and, in 1983, from the New Mexico School of Banking at the University of New Mexico. He was also a 1996 graduate of the graduate school of Community Bank Management at the University of Texas-Austin.

Justin started his career in the financial industry working with Household Finance, Security Bank and Trust, Moncor and United New Mexico Bank prior to joining Citizens Bank of Las Cruces. He started with Citizens Bank as a senior vice president in 1988. In 1993, he was appointed Executive Vice President of the bank and joined its board of directors. His tenure as president and CEO began in 1996. Under his leadership, the bank enjoyed major growth and success.
Justin continued the bank's commitment to remaining a true hometown bank. The bank proudly continues to use a motto of his own creation on its billboards: "We have roots, not just branches." He was committed to local lending, to growing Las Cruces, and to helping the community through both giving and civic leadership.
Justin greatly influenced the local and regional economy in many ways. He served as a board member for the BorderPlex International Economic Development Alliance and the Western States Director Education Foundation. He was also a member of the Investment Advisory Committee for Doña Ana County, the New Mexico Amigos and the Las Cruces Forum.
Previously, he served as president, legislative committee chair and board member of the Independent Community Bankers of America - New Mexico (ICBA/NM). Justin also served on the advisory council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Texas, and as chairman of Robert Morris Associates of Las Cruces and El Paso.
Over the years, he had served on the boards of many organizations, including Memorial Medical Center, the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce, the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority, the NMSU President's Associates, the Boys and Girls Club of Las Cruces, the MMC Foundation and Accion New Mexico.

His parents, Jim and Gladys Harper, predeceased him.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Bea Harper of Las Cruces, and four children: Justin Jr. of Austin, Texas, Keri Ann (Brian) Hulsey of Dallas, Texas, Keith (Naomi) Taylor of Phoenix and Larry (Ashlee) Taylor. He was a loving grandfather to Harper Mackenzie Hulsey, Eric Keith (Laura) Taylor, Kaylee Bea Taylor, and Trinity Taylor. Surviving siblings are Trish Harper (Tom) Ford, Larry (Dottie) Harper, Ginnie (Jim) Frederick, Jim (Judy) Galyan, Connie (Lloyd) English, and Roger (Cathy) Story. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

Bank employees will miss his daily presence. He was committed to making Citizens Bank a wonderful place to work. He believed in supporting employees and making them feel appreciated. In 2014, the Employee Relations Committee was honored to have him as a member and enjoyed his input and wry sense of humor. Justin always made it a point to greet everyone he saw at the bank with a smile. He took great pleasure in handing out anniversary awards at the annual holiday party, and in sincerely thanking those employees publicly for their service and their loyalty to the bank.

Although Justin took great pride in all of his business and civic duties, nothing brought him greater joy than spending time with his family, his children and grandchildren. He was often seen sharing pictures of his youngest granddaughter, Harper Mackenzie. He loved the modern technology perks of seeing her on his mobile phone via webcam, watching her play or sleep…this always made him smile. He always took time to answer a call from his children, as they were the most important people in his life. His family will greatly miss him.

A viewing and memorial service was held on Saturday, October 18th, at the NM Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The family requests that donations be made in Justin's memory to the Boys and Girls Club of Las Cruces.
Arrangements are in the care of Getz Funeral Home.
Published in Alamogordo Daily News from Oct. 19 to Nov. 18, 2014
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