Dennis T. Powell
1997 Honorary Alumni
Dennis Powell, a native of South Carolina, grew up on the family farm near Cowpens. After serving in the United States Navy in 1944 - 45, he returned home to graduate from Gaffney High School and attend Limestone College.
His experience in the automobile industry began in 1949, when he started as a new and used car salesman at a Lincoln Mercury Dealership in Greenville, S.C. It was during this time he met his wife, Mary Rudd, a student at Furman University. They were married in '55 and moved to Spartanburg where he was co-owner of a Lincoln Mercury Dealership. Four years later he became general sales manager of a Ford Dealership in Spartanburg, where he remained until 1969, when he moved to Johnson City to become the General Manager of a Johnson City General Motors Dealership.
In 1976, Powell purchased a Chrysler Plymouth Franchise and opened his own automobile dealership in Johnson City. He was awarded the Dodge Franchise by Chrysler Corporation in 1979. One of the company's ads often said, "You get Dennis Powell in the back seat of every car purchased at Dennis Powell Chrysler Plymouth Dodge," a proud mark of service and support after the sale. This type of service and loyalty to his customers has earned his company Chrysler's most coveted service award for ten years. In 1994, he purchased the Jeep Franchise and opened a second dealership on the Kingsport Highway in Johnson City. Professionally, Powell has served as president of the Tennessee Automobile Dealers Association; member of Chrysler Corporation Dealer Council since 1983; was one of the organizers of the Atlanta Chrysler Plymouth Dealers Advertising Association and has continued to serve on the board since 1978, serving two years as president. Recently, he received the Tennessee Automotive Association's highest award, the Andrew Jackson Award, becoming the 1998 Tennessee nominee for the Time Magazine Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company Quality Dealer of the Year Award. Less than 60 individuals out of the nation's 20,000+ automobile dealers are nominated for consideration.
Powell has also made a trademark of his active service in the region. He has served on numerous boards of directors including the Washington County/Johnson City Industrial Commission, the Johnson City Power Board, the Boy Scouts of America - Sequoyah Council, Volunteer Blind Industries, First Tennessee Bank, Johnson City Medical Center Foundation, Remote Area Medical Foundation, Washington County/Johnson City Vocational Training School and Northeast State Community College. He has been a long time member of the Masonic Order and the Johnson City Lions Club, where he served as a past president, and held the responsibility of supervising over 52 clubs as district governor. He has been honored as the district and state "Lion of the Year." In 1991, he was recognized for his outstanding leadership and unwavering support on community interests when he was awarded the Spirit of Johnson City Award.
Mr. Powell has contributed to the reality of many students attaining a college education by serving as a member of the ETSU Foundation. He has been a member of the Foundation board of directors since 1984. His contributions have earned him recognition as a Distinguished President's Trust member.
Dennis and his wife, Mary, have four children, Dennis, Keith, Candice and Kristi and two grandchildren.