1996 Laureates

Robert S. Lane

Known as "the dean of community banking" among his peers, Bob Lane was one of 11 children born to Samuel Smith And Catherine Snapp Lane of Stanley Valley near Church Hill, Tennessee.

He attended Church Hill High School until the death of his father, when he assumed his father's responsibilities in the operation of the family farm.

Lane joined the U.S. Navy and was assigned to an amphibious landing craft during the Pacific island campaigns of World War II achieving the rank of Machinist 3rd Class.

After a brief employment at Tennessee Eastman, Bob joined Citizens Union Bank in Rogersville, Tennessee, as a teller on May 1, 1947.

Robert Lane and Louise Ellenburg, of Easley, South Carolina, were married in 1948. Mrs. Lane and daughter, Melissa Lane (Mrs. John L.) Campbell, reside in Rogersville.

Robert Lane advanced to positions of increasing responsibility with Citizens Union Bank and became President in 1970 and Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer in 1981. During Bob's 44 years with Citizens Union bank, assets grew to $225 million and the bank was recognized as one of the most profitable in Tennessee.

Lane served the banking industry as a board member of the Tennessee Bankers Association, as a board member of the Independent Bankers Division, as one of the founders of the Chair of Banking at ETSU, and as a member of its advisory board, and as a long-time member of the ETSU Foundation Board of Directors. In 1987, Bankers Monthly recognized Lane as one of the 33 "most effective chief executives running banks in the U.S. today."

From the Hawkins County Industrial Board's inception in 1957, Bob Lane served as a member and as its chair from 1975 to 1991. In the late 1950's and early 1960's, Lane was instrumental in planning Hawkins County locations for AFG, Kingsport Press (Quebecor), and Holliston Mills. He led negotiations in the early 1970's to recruit TRW, Inc. and Dodge Reliance Electric.

Bob Lane devoted significant energies to the development of relationships between Hawkins County and the Greater Tri-Cities area. He spearheaded the effort to create a joint venture between Hawkins Countyand Kingsport to buy and develop TVA's abandoned Phipps Bend Nuclear Plant. The joint venture elected Lane chair and through his leadership 1,170 acres of prime industrial property will be a source of economic strength for the Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia for years to come.

In October 1990, Lane presented Citizens Union Bank's newest office in the unveiling of the restored Clinchfield Railroad Station of Kingsport's Main Street. The 2.5 million project advanced the cause ofKingsport's downtown revitalization.

Committed to community banking, Bob Lane never forgot the friends and neighbors who made his hometown bank successful. His family continues Bob's vision in the founding and operation of Rogersville's First Community Bank.

Recognized for his tremendous life-long accomplishments and service to the community, the Kingsport Times-News described Bob Lane as "a leader and a role model, a gentle man, a wise man – someone who made a large difference. His presence will be missed. But it will not be forgotten". Bob Lane represents "the kind volunteer spirit that made this region great."