2002 Inductees

Betty DeVinney

Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, she received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1964, and she completed the Executive Development Program at the University of Tennessee in 1993.

From the time of her arrival at Eastman Chemical Company in 1973, DeVinney has steadily acquired additional responsibilities, moving through the sales and treasurer’s divisions and, in 1983, accepting a position with the Human Resources Division in compensation and staffing. From 1989-95, she held the position of employment manager, and she was named Manager of Corporate Relations in 1995.

Three years later she became Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs, and in early 2002, she was named Senior Vice President of Eastman Chemical Company with global responsibility for human resources, communications, organizational effectiveness, and public affairs.

DeVinney serves on numerous boards, including those of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, n·tara, Tennessee State Workforce Development, and the ETSU Foundation. Her many offices include service as president of Kingsport United Way and the Northeast State Technical Community College Foundation. She is a 2002 recipient of the Mountain States Health Alliance Spirit Award.

She has been instrumental in creating the Eastman Chemical Company Distinguished Chair of Business Leadership in the ETSU College of Business.


Michelle Livengood

This Greeneville native graduated cum laude from ETSU in 1984 with a B.B.A. degree. She returned to her alma mater 17 years later to be honored as its Outstanding Alumna.

Her career path between those years has led rapidly upward. After earning her business degree, she joined the audit staff of Price Waterhouse in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. While with the firm, she expanded her areas of expertise, serving in several offices, including special experience as human resource manager for the company.

In 1993, she joined Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. as Director of Human Resources and was then promoted to Vice President of Strategic Planning. Her next promotion, to Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, called upon her experience in business management and her understanding of business people.

Krispy Kreme was poised for an initial public offering in 2000, and Livengood played a major role, planning and communicating across the nation that giant step which raised more than $68 million – the second most successful initial public offering that year. Then came another tremendous achievement, a follow-up offering in 2001 that raised more than $174 million. The corporation, producer of one of America’s best-loved confections, saw system-wide sales grow from $168 million in 1997 to more than $400 million last year.

Livengood is a CPA (inactive), a member of various professional organizations, and serves on the boards of directors of Junior Achievement of Northwest North Carolina and the Northwest North Carolina Second Harvest Food Bank. She also serves on the ETSU National Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Livengood, her husband, Scott, and her daughter reside in Winston-Salem.


Ruth Montgomery

A graduate of Science Hill High School in Johnson City, she received a bachelor’s degree from ETSU in 1949 and went on to earn a master of science degree from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 1952.

Teaching at several schools, including Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport and ETSU, plus many years as a volunteer in church, school, and civic organizations helped prepare her to seek elected office. She entered the political arena, first as a magistrate in Sullivan County Quarterly Court from 1972-78, then as a commissioner with the Sullivan County Board of Commissioners from 1978-80. Ready to move on to the state level, she was sent to the Tennessee House of Representatives by the citizens of District 2 for eight years, and then served as assistant minority leader of the 95 th General Assembly. From 1988-92, she was a state senator.

Deciding it was time to turn her attention from Nashville to her home in Kingsport, Montgomery saw things around her that needed attention. This led to her election in 1995 as the first woman mayor of Kingsport, where her communication skills and practical approach to civic needs served her well.

The 1988 ETSU Outstanding Alumna now has more time to spend with grandchildren and to volunteer her assistance with Leadership Kingsport, United Way, Rotary, the University of Tennessee President’s Trust, the Greater Kingsport Area Republican Women’s Board, and First Broad Street United Methodist Church in Kingsport. She and her husband, dentist Dr. Robert H. Montgomery, are the parents of Rob and Randall and the grandparents of Alex and Andrew.


John Poteat

Born in Bakersville, North Carolina, and reared in Jonesborough, his life has been filled with an entrepreneurial spirit. As a teenager, Poteat began his own milk delivery service rather than sell milk from the family dairy cows. After completing three years of work in just two years at what was then State Teachers College, Johnson City, he left with high hopes and a new microscope for medical school in Memphis. The Great Depression intervened, and when he no longer had money for food, Poteat was forced to leave Memphis to look for employment.

While working for Pet Dairy during the day, he developed his own ice cream business, freezing gallons of his products at night to sell as double-dip cones in Spruce Pine, North Carolina.

Subsequent employment at Peters Oil gave him experience in sales and promotion at area gas stations. Poteat put that knowledge to work, obtaining a Pure Oil franchise in Kingsport and operating such a successful station that the company used it as a model and flew him to company headquarters to learn his techniques.

Poteat’s next enterprise began in 1974, as the result of a conversation with W.B. Greene, Sr. The men raised $200,000 to start the Bank of Tennessee. By the end of the year 2000, the bank had $383 million in assets.

As he approaches his 90 th birthday at the end of this year, Poteat still keeps a watchful eye on the bank, as well as on the construction of residential subdivisions being developed on his properties.

Poteat is a fervent advocate for ETSU. He supports the ETSU Foundation, giving at the Gold Society Level, and is a member of the ETSU Legacy Circle. He has created the Poteat Endowment for creation of the ETSU Chair of Banking.

He is married to Ruth Whitlock Poteat. They are the parents of Betty Olds, grandparents of John Olds and Linda Burrell, and great-grandparents of Brandon and Maranda Olds.


James Powell

After a childhood spent on a 110-acre farm in rural Cub Creek, Tennessee, he won a Sears & Roebuck scholarship, allowing him to become the first member of his family to attend college. At the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, he met Sandra Pless and they were married after his sophomore year.

Powell joined a family member in the steel business, and in 1969 he began his own company with three employees and a 30-ton crane. That company grew and diversified many times over the years. Today, the diverse Powell interests include crane divisions, a steel erection sector, coal processing, an industrial division, and Decanter Machine operations, with offices across the Volunteer State, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

A member of the Tennessee Business Roundtable, he has held many positions, both regional and at the state level, with the Tennessee Associated General Contractors, among his many professional and civic interests.

Determined to assist others, just as he was aided by Sears & Roebuck, Powell devotes a great deal of attention to education. An avid supporter of ETSU and a member of the Distinguished President’s Trust, Powell is past president of the ETSU Foundation and currently serves on its board of directors, was named Honorary Alumnus in 1979, and received the George L. Carter Award in 1997. He is also a member of the ETSU College of Business Board of Advisors. Even the new Charles C. Sherrod Library owes much of its beauty to Powell Construction.

The Powells have endowed over $1.5 million to ETSU in music, athletic, business, and technology scholarships, and hundreds of students at several universities have enjoyed higher education opportunities thanks to the Powell family’s scholarships.

The Powells have three sons, James, Jr., Michael, and Jeffrey.


James Reel

This 2002 Outstanding Alumnus found unusual after-school employment while he was a student (Class of 1957) at ETSU. He not only worked as a projectionist at WJHL-TV11, but also played a cowboy/puppeteer named “Dallas” on a children’s program. In 1976 he built upon his educational credentials, this time earning a legal degree from the Woodrow Wilson College of Law.

In 1980, he founded his first business, Insurance Publishing and Computers, Inc., in Norcross, Georgia. Foreseeing the impact of computers, Reel designed software for insurance representatives to use in the field, allowing portable technology capable of handling needs analysis and interest-sensitive product illustration programs in English, French, and Spanish. Before selling the company in 1983, Reel saw his product used throughout North and South America in over 70,000 computers, earning him the title “Father of the Hand-Held Computer.”

As his next enterprise, Reel became co-founder of International Computer Marketing Corporation in 1985. In the first year, he and one co-worker produced about $100,000 in revenues. The company now has a staff of 90 and over $150 million in revenues, installing more than 33,000 computer packages in teleco service vehicles last year. In 1991, his ICM Corp. was ranked the 32 nd fastest growing company in the nation, and by the year 2000 had risen to eighth.

In addition to many professional and civic activities, Reel is a past president and board member of ETSU’s National Alumni Association, co-founder of ETSU’s “Committee of 1000” million-dollar scholarship endowment, and a member of the ETSU Foundation as well as the Distinguished President’s Trust Silver Society. His abiding interest in students led him to participate on the ETSU College of Business Board of Advisors, to visit the campus and lecture to current students, and to help select students for ETSU’s elite Roan Scholars Leadership Program.

He and his wife, Anne, a 1966 ETSU graduate, have established a Roan Scholars Leadership Scholarship in memory of his father, W.E. Reel. Recognizing that excellent ETSU faculty are absolutely essential to the educational experiences of our students, they have established the James and Anne Reel College of Business Faculty Fellowship to assist a prominent member of the faculty in his or her research and service to the region, especially as this work affects farmers who are transitioning to the newer economy.

The Reels have a daughter, Susanne. They enjoy homes in Atlanta and Jonesborough as well as a farm in Virginia.


Philip Scharfstein

This Johnson City entrepreneur earned a business degree at ETSU, graduating magna cum laude in 1989. While a student at the university, he met his wife, Rena, in Professor George Myers’ real estate law class.

During his college days, Scharfstein gained practical experience while he worked as night manager at his family’s business, One-Stop Wines and Liquors. He can still be found at One-Stop, but has also developed two Wash Depot car washes and a self-storage facility. In addition, he is involved with other family enterprises, including commercial and industrial real estate, retail centers, and a hotel.

Scharfstein’s other interests range from the great outdoors, especially as a fly-fisherman, to activities at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church in Johnson City.

He and his wife are members of the ETSU Distinguished President’s Trust and active supporters of the ETSU College of Business Annual Fund “Drive for Pride.” Scharfstein is an advocate for the university, supporting the ETSU Foundation and sharing his business acumen with students.

The Scharfsteins are the parents of Lauren, 7, and Philip, 4.


Kenneth (Kent) Vaught

While an ETSU student working his way toward a 1987 B.B.A. degree in finance, he played on the varsity golf team and served as the student representative on the Tennessee Board of Regents, the university’s governing body.

Starting as a management trainee with Hamilton Bank in Johnson City, Vaught gained experience in the commercial banking arena at First Tennessee Bank. In 1988, he joined Greene County Bancshares, becoming Chief Executive Officer of American Fidelity Bank, a Greene County Bank office with headquarters in Alcoa, Tennessee.

Recently, Vaught was named President and Chief Operating Officer of both Greene County Bancshares, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Greene County Bank. He is responsible for all banking operations as well as the bank’s mortgage division and Fairway Title Company. The largest community bank in East Tennessee, Greene County Bancshares has total assets of $843 million and employs 377 individuals.

His many professional and community commitments include the Blount County Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Blount County, and the Maryville Rotary Club.

Vaught and his wife, Lysia, live in Maryville with daughters, Taylore and Torie, and son Tyler.


Stuart E. Wood, Jr.

After graduating from Bristol’s Tennessee High School in 1956, he briefly attended Virginia Tech, but soon returned home to complete his education at ETSU. His schedule in those days was built around delivering the Bristol newspaper early in the morning, driving to Johnson City to attend classes, and working on the production line at Kern’s Bakery back in Bristol during the evenings, with naps in the car to help him survive his routine.

With his ETSU business degree in hand, he served a stint in the U.S. Army, then returned to the Tri-Cities to employment at General Electric Capital Corporation, handling special financing as a credit manager for the region.

As his next step, Wood joined the Anheuser-Busch bakery products division selling to commercial concerns such as his old employer Kern’s Bakery. Ready to step out on his own, Wood began Bonanza Mobile Homes.

In 1971, he sold his business and purchased Holston Distributing in Johnson City, which had been his family’s enterprise since 1934. In his first year with the business, Wood saw three routes handle 285,000 cases of beverages. Now Holston Distributing sells over 2 million cases through 20 routes from a 110,000 square-foot-facility on 15 acres. In addition, he created Warehouse Central and Truck Central to provide a key storage and delivery system for business.

Wood’s other interests include Woodridge Construction Co., Hunterwood Subdivision development, and Bowman Wood Development LLC in Bristol.

A civic leader, Wood has held numerous positions in organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Board, and the Johnson City Regional Planning Commission. He has served as a board member for such institutions as the Wellmont Healthcare Foundation, Sullins Academy, and the Sequoyah Council of the Boy Scouts.

The 1998 Outstanding Alumnus was the first ETSU graduate to serve as president of the ETSU Foundation, and was also selected president of the Pirate Club. He is a member of the Platinum Society for his lifetime giving to the ETSU Foundation. One of the first members of the ETSU College of Business Board of Advisors, he is a strong supporter of ETSU students, creating a scholarship fund for the university’s business students and establishing Holston Distributing as a key partner in the promotion of ETSU athletics.

Wood is the father of Frank Wood, who serves Holston Distributing as vice president, and daughter Meredith, a professional entertainer in Atlanta.