In January 1939 Ashe Building and Loan Association received its charter and set up shop in the Parker Tie building in downtown West Jefferson. The shareholders met and elected ten directors, including Glenn B. Graybeal who also acted as Secretary-Treasurer and managed the day-to-day affairs of the building and loan. Twelve years later the Association expanded beyond its initial scope of lending and became Ashe Savings and Loan Association.
The year 1964 brought two major changes to the Association. Following Graybeal’s death in July, the directors turned to Ashe County native William O. “Bill” Ashley, Jr. and he accepted the role of managing officer and later director. That same year, Ashe Savings and Loan moved to 205 South Jefferson Avenue, which continues to serve as a branch office today.
In 1982 a federal charter was obtained and the company became Ashe Federal Savings and Loan and would later change its name again to Ashe Federal Bank. Ashley retired in 1994 after 30 years of service and was replaced by James A. Todd as President and CEO. That same year Ashe Federal opened a second branch in Jefferson.
The years following Ashley’s retirement saw rapid growth and expansion as Ashe Federal became AF Bank and opened five additional branch locations in Ashe, Watauga, and Alleghany Counties. A mutual holding company, AsheCo, MHC, was established in 1996. A mid-tier holding company, AF Bankshares, Inc. was created in 1998 and in 2002 the company’s shareholders voted to change its name to AF Financial Group.
Realizing that its customers’ financial needs include more than banking, the company expanded once again to offer insurance and investment services. Insurance services are offered through six locations in Ashe, Alleghany, Watauga, Surry, Wilkes, and Caldwell Counties. Investment services are provided through office locations in West Jefferson and Boone and by appointment in other AF locations.
James Todd left in 2004 and was replaced by Robert E. "Bob" Washburn, the company's current President and CEO. In September 2009, the company changed its name from AF to LifeStore.
Many things have changed since 1939, but one thing about LifeStore has remained the same – taking care of its customers with the friendly hometown service they deserve.