2002 Laureates

Dan Mahoney

Johnson City native Dan Mahoney didn't start out in life with a vision to one-day head up the region's largest outdoor sporting goods store, nor did he ever see himself becoming a politician. His interests in high school and college centered on ROTC and the military, and he planned on pursuing a quiet, ordered life as an engineer. Things didn't quite turn out that way!

As owner of Mahoney's and Mahoney's Outfitter's in Johnson City, and with years of service in local politics and on various non-profit boards, Mahoney has spent his entire adult life serving the needs of others.

Mahoney is a former Johnson City mayor, and 12-year city commissioner. He served on the Johnson City Board of Education for six years, and is a former chairman. He is also a former chairman and board member of the Johnson City Planning Board, the Johnson City/Washington County Economic Board, and First United Methodist Church Board. He is a former vice chairman and board member of the JCMC Hospital, as well as a former member of the Johnson City Convention and Visitors Board and the Johnson City Heart Association Board.

He is currently chairman of the Tri-Cities Regional Airport Commission, vice chairman of the Foreign Trade Zone board, and serves on the boards of the Dawn of Hope, the Salvation Army, the #1 Committee, the ETSU National Alumni Association, and SunTrust Bank. He also serves on the board of directors for the Sequoyah Council of the Boy Scouts of America; the ETSU Foundation; the Mountain State Hospital Foundation; the Tennessee Resource, Conservation and Development Council; and Nation's Best Sports.

The Mahoney businesses began in 1960 when Mahoney's parents, the late Harold and Irene Mahoney, opened Mahoney's Discount Supply. At first operating primarily in army surplus and discount commodities, the store was incorporated in 1971 under the Mahoney's Sportsman's Paradise name. Today, Mahoney's operates in two locations and employs 33 people.

The original store, Mahoney's, carries a wide array of hunting equipment and maintains a full fly-fishing department, as well as a ladies' casual wear department, managed by Mahoney's wife, Katie. The firearms department, managed by son Sean, is also located there.

Mahoney's Outfitter's is a full-range outdoor specialty store, catering to hiking, paddling, climbing, skiing and backpacking enthusiasts. This store was opened in 1993.

Mahoney graduated from ETSU in 1965 with a B.S. degree in Business Administration. He then spent two years in active duty in the United States Army, one year of which was spent in Thailand. He served six years in the Army Reserve, retiring as captain.

Mahoney said that his overseas military experience remains the single most influential time in his life, and shaped his views on giving back to community, steering him into public service.

"Any kind of decision that's been made on a local, state, or national level, I've got a perspective on it, because I understand what it takes to get where they're going with that issue. I think if more people had that understanding, things would be better. And who is better equipped for it than the business community? If everybody did a little bit, just think of what this world could do. You can make a difference," said Mahoney.

Others have noticed that attitude over the years. Susan Reid, executive director of the First Tennessee Development District, commented, "Dan Mahoney is so very effective as a leader due to his ability to inspire others and to motivate them to do their very best. Because of his leadership and vision for this region, we are recognized and often referenced by the National Civic League and others as a model for other regions to follow."

Mahoney said that making sure all sides understood the complete picture, and striving to do what was right for the community, are the accomplishments of which he is most proud.

"You don't get things done positively unless both sides come to an agreement," he said. "You may make a decision that's unpopular, but people will always recognize it if they feel like you did it for their good. You're going to be able to sleep at night and make that decision, knowing that what you did was for the best, and it will always come back positive."

Dan met his wife, the former Katie Webb, while they were students at ETSU. Mahoney enjoys time spent with Katie, Sean and daughter-in-law, Amy, as well as hunting, fishing, skiing, scuba diving and hiking.