Saidak, Derek

Derek Saidak Named New Bank President for Anderson County 

Tennessee Higdon descendant does good!

I have for the past several years done business with many local banks in Tennessee, and as a builder have had occasions to take out loans and to refinance properties. Let us say that I have had dealings with many different bankers over the years. In the course of all this I met a young man named Derek Saidak. He started work at SunTrust Bank eleven years ago and did home inspections on properties under construction that the bank had loaned money on. I remember Derek showing up for the first time on my job site in his suit and tie and crisp white shirt. His shoes were so clean you could see your reflection in them. I remember this because it was such a dreary day; it had, in fact, been raining all week. I was wearing my worst outfit because I knew that I would have to throw it away at the end of the day. I had mud all over me. Derek walked right up to me and held out his hand without a care to how bad I looked. I took his hand and shook it getting mud on his hand and the sleeve of his nice shirt. That first meeting told me a lot about him. I knew he would go far at whatever he did, because anyone willing to get their hands and clothing dirty just to meet their customers tells you volumes about them.

It was a couple of years later that I found out that we were related when I attended an alumni reception in Oak Ridge for Pat Summit (You may know her as the Lady Vols head basketball coach at the University of Tennessee.) During that reception a lady, who had noticed Higdon on my name tag, introduced herself as Leona Saidak, and during the conversation she said that her maiden name was Higdon. She turned out to be Derek’s mother! Until that time I did not know that Derek had any connection to the Higdon family.

I was very pleased but not surprised when in early April 2004 Derek was named President of SunTrust Banks of Anderson County. Derek is a graduate of Auburn University where he earned both a bachelor of science degree in finance and a master’s degree in business administration. He has also been very involved in his community including: the Loudon County Committee of 100 members, Lenoir City Civitan Club, Treasurer for Aid and Distressed Families of Anderson County, Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Anderson County, Oak Ridge Breakfast Rotary Club, and 1995 Leadership Oak Ridge. Currently Derek is involved with the Great Smoky Mountains Council (Boy Scouts of America). We all wish Derek well in his new job, and if any of you Higdons out there need a good honest banker, then Derek’s just the guy for you.

Below is some information on Derek’s Higdon side of the family. Some of you may know his line and want to get in touch with that branch. Just let me know and I will put you in touch with Derek or his granddad Leon.

Derek is married to Leslie Rueter. His father is Lance Saidak. Derek's mother is Leona Higdon Saidak. Leona is the first of six children of Leon Higdon. Her brothers and sisters are: Dean Higdon, Larry, David, Hilda Higdon Butler and Mark.

Derek's maternal Grandfather is James Leon Higdon born 5/21/ 1922; he currently resides in Florida and has a summer home in Tennessee. Leon's wife is Martha Holt Higdon. Leon is the first of three children (Leon, James Paul Higdon 2nd, Aline Higdon McAllen) born to James Paul Higdon 1st and wife Maud Clark Higdon. Leon is the grandson of Oscar and Martha Miller Higdon who had nine children: Earl, Paul, Roy, Lester, Burley, Verna H. Hixon, Russell, Edith and Alma. Most live in South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Leon recalls that four Higdon brothers came into the area around northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama during the Oglethorpe Grant period. He remembers meeting his granddad's great uncle when he was a child, around 1927 (he’s not sure about the date) at Sand Mountain, Alabama. The man was very old and blind; Leon does not remember this Higdon’s first name.

Leon attended Berry Schools near Rome, Georgia, where he met and is still friends with my Uncle Bruce Parrish, my mother’s brother (Nettie Ray Parrish Higdon) and said that my dad (Leonard Higdon, born 1910) taught there and was the football coach. What a small world this is!

This biographical sketch was sent to us by Charles P. Higdon.

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