2002 Laureates

Kent Bewley

"If it is to be, it is up to me" is a personal philosophy that guides Kent Bewley's many achievements. Greeneville native Kent Bewley strongly believes that good employees and diversification have always been the key strengths for Bewley Properties, Inc., the business he founded 25 years ago.

Bewley is currently president of Bewley Properties, Morristown Chevrolet-Buick-Oldsmobile, Inc., president of Bristol Auto Auction, Inc., and a partner in Mountain Mazda Mitsubishi, Inc., and Lawson Chevrolet-Oldsmobile-Mazda, Inc. His other automobile ventures include Bewley Motor Company founded by his father in 1937. Additionally, he is involved in real estate development and property management, as well as contract and commercial warehousing.

Kent's parents, the late Roswell and Eugenia Bewley, were superb role models as entrepreneurs and community citizens. Bewley has built upon the base created by his father and expanded it into its current four-county operation.

"I grew up in the car business," Bewley said. "My Dad had me washing cars and sweeping floors at age 8."

Bewley recalls his father as a stickler for quality, no matter how menial the task.

"The worst job I ever had was for my dad," he said. "He raised sod for golf course greens on a farm, and I had to pick weeds on the entire two acres of it- on my hands and knees. Just when you finally finished the job, it was time to start the whole process all over again!"

Despite his early and abiding interest in the automobile business, Bewley considers his expansion into warehousing and property management to be his primary occupation at Bewley Properties.

"I started the commercial and contract warehouse business for our company, and that's really been our mainstay for the last 10 years," he said.

Bewley and his wife, Bettye Anne, own 20 warehouses totaling more than two million square feet of space.

A Greeneville High School graduate, Bewley participated in football and track, and attended Wake Forest University on a track scholarship. He graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1966 with a B.S. degree in Business Administration.

Bewley entered the United States Army upon graduation from UT, and spent 10 years in the Army Reserve retiring as a captain in 1976.

"I learned so much as a project officer in Company C 844th Engineering Battalion," says Bewley. "It offered me hands on contracting and engineering experience that I use everyday in projects like the GreenevilleHigh School and Crescent School renovations."

Kent and the former Bettye Anne Bullard have been married for nearly 30 years, and have one daughter, Kandice, a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. The Bewley family enjoys time spent with family and friends, and pursuing their love of all UT sporting events and NASCAR racing at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kent's community and civic involvements are as diverse as his business interests. He is a former chairman of Junior Achievement of Greenville/Greene County, and a JA classroom volunteer at Greeneville andGreene County High Schools.

"I think Junior Achievement is a great program, and is a message that needs to be taken to all children," said Bewley. "I believe our youth are the future, and if they're not prepared, it's our fault."

Additionally, Bewley is a member of the East Tennessee State University Foundation, Industrial Bond Board, Greene County Foundation, Takoma Hospital Foundation, Andrew Johnson Bank Board of Directors, and the Sequoyah Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He is a former member of the Tusculum College Board of Trustees, and past president of Link Hills Country Club. He is currently the chairman of the board for Holston Methodist Home for Children.

"Holston Home is very important to me, and I truly enjoy being chairman because I can see how much good it does for the children," he said.

The Bewley family's generosity built the Bewley Center on the Holston Home Campus. Bewley has received numerous awards for his volunteer efforts for Holston Home including the Mountain Empire Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals' "Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser".

Kent and Bettye Anne were recognized by the Tennessee Historical Commission with a Certificate of Merit for their restoration of Greeneville's historic Crescent School. The Bewley's rescued the long closed landmark and renovated it as an office building.

"My community is very important to me," said Bewley. "I'm proud to live here - Greeneville is a great place to live and work. I want to give back. I think it's important for anyone, and I've really been blessed with a wonderful life."