2003 Laureates

William B. Greene, Jr.

At age 24, Bill Greene became the youngest bank president and CEO in the United States. While at flight school in Texas on what has been described as a "fateful" day in 1964, Greene became the primary stockholder and president of Carter County Bank. Five years later, Greene formed the first state-wide banking organization in Tennessee history, the United Tennessee Bancshares Corporation, which initially included Carter County Bank in Elizabethton and First People's Bank in Johnson City. Several years later, Nashville City Bank in Nashville and National Bank of Commerce in Memphis were brought into this organization. Greene also co-founded Paragon Bank in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1999.

As a former director of Northwestern Financial Corporation, Greene was a part of the first major banking merger in the U.S. with First Union Corporation, now Wachovia Bank, which has grown to become the country's fourth largest bank. Greene co-founded Bank of Tennessee and is currently the chairman of Bank of Tennessee and BancTenn Corporation, along with Carter County Bank and Carter County BanCorp in Elizabethton.

Though Greene is a second-generation banker, banking is by no means his only life's passion. An A.P. all-state athlete at Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport, Greene played baseball, basketball, and golf. He received a dual scholarship in basketball and golf to Wake Forest University, earning varsity letters in both sports for three years in the late ‘50s.

"Athletics have been an extremely important part of my life, " Greene said. "One of the things I've learned from athletics is don't ever give up. Figure out where the goal line is and stay focused on it. If you get knocked down, get up, dust yourself off, and run toward the goal line again. If you feel like what you're doing is worthy of your energy, efforts, and mind, don't give up."

Greene remains an avid golfer today with numerous amateur titles, and has served as chairman of the Tennessee Golf Foundation and president of the Tennessee Golf Association. As a player, he has representedTennessee five times on the Mid-South Cup Team, and has been a member of the Tennessee Amateur Cup seven times. Greene won the Tennessee State Senior Four Ball in 1998, and has had four top ten finishes in the Tennessee State Amateur Championship.

In June 2002, Greene received one of the highest honors given to a former collegiate player, the Rolex Achievement Award from the College Golf Foundation and Rolex Watch U.S.A., presented to recognize excellence in the recipient's chosen career as well as his contributions to society.

With aviation being another one of his passions, Greene is a licensed airline transport pilot with type ratings in seven different jet airplanes and over 12,000 hours. He founded the Elizabethton Municipal Airport and has been its chairman for the past 38 years. He was also chairman of the Tennessee Bureau of Aeronautics for twelve years.

Born to the late William B. Greene, Sr. and Irene Edwards Greene in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and raised in Kingsport, Greene graduated from Wake Forest University in 1959 with a Bachelor of Science degree in history and philosophy. He completed post-graduate work at Wake Forest, Northwestern University, and YPO's Harvard Graduate School of Business, and graduated from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University. He also served in the U.S. Army as an Infantry Officer and retired with the rank of Captain.

Service to community and state have been significant factors in Greene's life. He served as president of the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce four times, and as director of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center under two governors.

In 1998, Greene was honored by being selected president of the World President's Organization, which is composed of over 4,000 CEOs of the world's largest organizations. He has also served on the local hospital board, and was chairman of the Carter County Industrial Commission from 1970 to 1980. Greene also is a member of two public companies, the JDN Company, which is on the New York Stock Exchange, and the Lone Star Corporation, which is traded publicly over NASDAQ.

Greene is the chairman and founder of the William B. Greene Foundation, which financially supports numerous organizations devoted to improving the quality of life in the world. He also supports the Elizabethton Boys and Girls Club, the Boy Scouts of America, and has been chairman of the United Way of Carter County five times. His recent donation of $5 million to Wake Forest University resulted in the naming of the psychology and foreign language building in his honor. He also helped create East Tennessee State University's (ETSU) Chair of Banking, and has served on the College of Business Board of Advisors since its inception in the early ‘80s.

Greene is chairman of the Wake Forest University Board of Trustees, having served since 1989. He has chaired Wake Forest's Investments Policy Committee overseeing the university's $1 billion endowment for the last ten years, and is currently co-chairing the university's $600 million capital campaign. In 1990, he received the Wake Forest Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest award the university can present to an alumnus.

Presently, Greene serves on the Board of Trustees at Milligan College, and is co-chairman of the President's Executive Council there. Greene was recently awarded an Honorary Doctor of Economics by Milligan.

Greene's support of ETSU's Buccaneer golf program includes the Bank of Tennessee-The Ridges Intercollegiate Invitational golf tournament each fall, which has become one of the three premier collegiate golf tournaments in the country. His support for ETSU golf has been recognized by the creation of the William B. Greene, Jr. Men's Golf Award for the team's most valuable player. The Warren-Greene Golf Practice Facility is his latest contribution to ETSU's golf program. He recently raised over $1 million to make this Tom Fazio facility one of the premier collegiate practice facilities in America. Greene was presented with an Honorary Alumni Ward from ETSU in 1989.

As chairman of the Tennessee Golf Foundation, Greene has lent his support to the First Tee Project and the Vinny Links for Kids, country music star Vince Gill's pro-celebrity golf event which has raised more than $2.5 million for junior golf in Tennessee.

Greene said that despite having accomplished many things he has wanted to accomplish, he still sets his sights high for the future. "My goals are to take advantage of targets of opportunity for expansion in our banking franchise, be in the top 25 percentile of our peer group in return on equity and return on assets, and run the highest quality banks by regulatory measuring sticks in America. You just don't settle for anything less.

"I'm a great believer in if you love who you work with and where you work, you never go to work," he added. "I've never been to work a day in my life!"

Greene is the parent of one daughter, Rebecca Greene. His sister is Valerie Ketron of Kingsport.