2007 Inductees

M. Steven DeCarlo

M. Steven DeCarlo is chief executive officer of AmWINS Group, Inc., as a wholesale distributor of specialty insurance products dedicated to serving retail agents across the United States through property and casualty, group life and health, and program administration services.

DeCarlo joined AmWINS in 2001, leading the business through the merger of several leading specialty wholesalers. According to Business Insurance magazine, the Charlotte, N.C. company handles premium placements in excess of $2.8 billion annually, ranking as the country’s largest wholesale insurance broker. The company operates 35 offices nationwide to serve over 5,000 retail insurance agencies.

A 1980 East Tennessee State University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, DeCarlo followed a family tradition – his father, the late Michael DeCarlo, was a member of the ETSU Class of 1953.

DeCarlo began his career with Crum & Forster, a major property and casualty insurance group, before joining The London Agency as its chief financial officer.

In 1988, DeCarlo was a founding partner of Royal Specialty Underwriting (RSUI), serving the company as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Ten years later, he became senior vice president of what was then the RSUI parent company, Royal & SunAlliance USA.

A member of the ETSU Foundation, DeCarlo is also affiliated with the Distinguished President’s Trust.

Among his many community activities, DeCarlo is past chairman of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Georgia, an inductee into the Multiple Sclerosis Hall of Fame, and past vice chairman of the PGA of America Tournament.

He and his wife, Lee Ann, reside in Charlotte, N.C., and are the parents of three children, Jenna, Steven (Nick), and Michael (Reid).


Arby Edwards

Arby Edwards, a Johnson City native, joined the military at 17 and spent three years with Army Intelligence in the Far East during and after the Korean War.

Returning home, he entered East Tennessee State University and earned a bachelor of science degree in accounting in 1962. He later earned a master’s degree in foreign relations from Sophia University in Tokyo, and, in 2001, he graduated with an associate degree in computer technology from Rhodes College in Portland, Oregon.

His business background helped Edwards claim a position with U.S. Customs (now Homeland Security). He was the youngest customs attaché ever appointed.

Edwards was often stationed in Japan, but he was also based in Seol, Hong Kong, Rome, and Paris, His duties included searching out fraud in companies exporting products to the United States and investigation accusations of foreign firms slashing prices on exports to undercut U.S. firms. In 1972, Edwards was a passenger on a flight that was hijacked to Cuba, where he was removed from the plane and interrogated before being released with a souvenir cigar, presented to him by Fidel Castro.

When Edwards retired after many years in Japan, he accepted a position with Timeline Trading, Inc., a Japanese corporation. He has since been made president-for-life. The company buys and sells airplanes and aircraft parts. When a client places an order for a plane, the staff searches in America for aircraft matching the description. Edwards goes to that location and takes a test flight. If it passes muster, Edwards flies the plane to Oakland, California, where it is disassembled and shipped to Japan.

A very popular speaker among students in the College of Business and Technology during the annual Alumni Return to the Classroom program, Edwards is considered an ambassador for ETSU around the nation and the world.

While Edwards was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, he met his wife, Yuko, who is a flight attendant for Delta. They live in Fayetteville, Georgia, with their two children, Jennifer Momoko and Anthony Kento.


Allen Harris, Jr.

The late Allen Harris, Jr. graduated from Johnson City’s Science Hill High School in 1923 and then earned a bachelor’s degree at Washington and Lee University in 1927. He went on to earn an MBA at the prestigious Harvard Business School two years later.

In 1929, he joined his family-owned enterprise, Harris Manufacturing Company, beginning with sales responsibilities in New York and serving in many capacities. Harris succeeded his father as president of the company in 1968. Under his guidance, the enterprise became one of the leading hardwood flooring corporations in the world. In 1983, the business merged with a Swedish flooring company to form Harris-Tarkett, Inc. Harris remained as vice-chairman until his death.

During World War II, he served with the United States Navy on destroyers in the Atlantic and Pacific, attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander and receiving the Legion of Merit and Commendation medals.

Harris served as a director of Hamilton Bank, president of the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association, president of the National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association, and president of the Johnson City-Jonesborough-Washington County Chamber of Commerce. He helped guide the Johnson City Medical Center Hospital for 27 years and served as director of the board for several professional organizations.

Harris left a legacy of service and philanthropy. His invaluable support helped create the James H. Quillen College of Medicine. As generous advocates for what was then the ETSU College of Business, he and Mrs. Harris established the Allen and Ruth Harris Chair of Excellence in Business in 1988, only the third such Chair at the university at that time. Harris was also the first president of the ETSU Foundation, setting it firmly in place for those who followed him.

In 1979, the ETSU Alumni Association named Harris an Honorary Alumnus. A member of the East Tennessee State University College of Business Board of Advisors, Harris served as its chair from 1982 until his death 10 years later. In 1989, he was named the first recipient of the George L. Carter Award, bestowed only occasionally, when a unique individual has “made this university a more dynamic and viable force in the world of higher education.”

Harris and his wife, the late Philia Ruth Roberts Harris, had two children, the late Allen Harris III and Eva Stanley Harris.


Cheryl Lang

Cheryl Lang, a 1986 graduate of East Tennessee State University, earned an MBA from Clemson University in 2003. She is now vice president and chief financial officer of Tindall Corporation, a Spartanburg, South Carolina-based company that designs, manufactures, and erects pre-cast concrete systems for construction projects.

After graduation from ETSU, Lang became a staff accountant with Coopers & Lyband in Knoxville, leaving after two years to join Price Waterhouse (now Pricewaterhouse Coopers) as a staff member and later as a senior accountant in the Greenville, South Carolina office. She also worked briefly for Reeves Brothers in Spartanburg as a corporate accountant.

In 1990, Lang joined Tindall Corporation as its controller. She achieved her present position in 2006 at Tindall, a corporation with annual revenues in excess of $250 million and one of the five largest pre-stressed concrete manufacturers in the United States.

Lang serves as secretary of the Foothills Chapter of the South Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants and holds membership in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Tennessee Society of Certified Public Accountants, and the Piedmont Economics Group.

Among her civic responsibilities, Lang is the former finance chair and a board member of the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium Board of Commissioners and a volunteer with the Wofford College Terrier Club.

Lang’s husband, A. Wade Lang, is a graduate of Wofford College, where he is now employed. He earned a master’s degree at ETSU in 1985.


Ron Ramsey

The Honorable Ron Ramsey, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Tennessee, graduated from Sullivan Central High School in 1973, and he earned a bachelor of science degree in industrial technology at East Tennessee State University in 1978.

Ramsey obtained his surveyor’s license in 1981 and started a surveying company that same year. He established a real estate and auction company in 1986 and, four years later, merged the two to create his business-Ron Ramsey and Associates.

Ramsey was elected by the First District of Sullivan County to serve two terms in the Tennessee House of Representatives, and, in 1996, he won election to the State Senate, representing Tennessee Senate District 2, which encompasses Johnson and Sullivan counties.

In January 207, Ramsey was elected Speaker of the Senate and Lieutenant Governor. He is the first GOP Senate Speaker in Tennessee in 140 years and the first from Sullivan County in over 100 years.

Prior to his election, he served as Majority Leader and Caucus Chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus and is also a former Chairman of the Senate Environment Committee.

Active in his profession and community, Ramsey served as president of the Bristol Association of Realtors and as president of the Blountville Business Association. He was a member of the first “40 Under Forty” class recognized by The Business Journal of Tri-Cities Tennessee/Virginia, and he is active in several local chambers of commerce.

The Lt. Governor is a member of the Blountville Ruritan and the Indian Springs Optimist Club, a past member of the Farm Credit Advisory Board, and a member of Elizabeth Chapel United Methodist Church where he serves as a Sunday School teacher.

Ramsey resides in Blountville with his wife, Sindy, who is also an ETSU graduate. They have three daughters. Tiffany and Sheena are graduates of the ETSU College of Business and Technology, and Madison is nearing graduation as current student within the College.


Thomas Weems

Architect Thomas Weems earned a bachelor’s degree in construction technology at ETSU in 1981, when he was named the Technology Department Student of the Year. Continuing at ETSU, he received a master of arts degree in technology in 1984, before beginning work in the College of Architecture at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

After working for 16 years with area architects Beeson, Lusk & Street, Weems launched his Johnson City firm, Thomas Weems Architect, in 1996. The firm designs medical, commercial, educational, religious, and residential structures.

He is a member of the ETSU Foundation and the Committee of 1000, and, for the generous support he and his wife have shown the Foundation, Weems is a member of the Distinguished President’s Trust.

Weems is involved in numerous civic affairs. He sat on the board of Hands On! Museum and was a member of the Johnson City Jaycees, which named him 1988 Jaycee of the Year. He is active with the Johnson City-Jonesborough-Washington County Chamber of Commerce and participated in that group’s Leadership 2015 program. In addition, Johnson City Parks and Recreation presented him with the 1995 Volunteer Award.

The General Shale Brick Design Competition winner in 1996, Weems was named the Associated General Contractors Architect of the Year for projects created in 2001 and 2005.

Weems is married to Elizabeth, also an ETSU graduate, and they have two sons, Thomas and Andrew.


Robert Lynn White

Robert Lynn White, chief public relations officer of the Johnson City Power Board, earned a bachelor’s degree in operations management at East Tennessee State University in 1996, followed by an MBA from Milligan College.

A 23-year veteran with the Johnson City Power Board, White began as a meter reader and assistant stock keeper and progressed through positions as supervisor and manager to attain his current title.

In 1989, White co-founded Brotherly Love Ministries, a contemporary gospel music ministry based in Johnson City. Brotherly Love has performed at numerous concerts and workshops, in addition to producing four recordings: Power in the Music (1990), Not Just Another Face in the Crowd (1992), You Ought to Know (1996), and Brotherly Love Live: Everything’s Going to Be Alright (2002).

Appointed by Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen in 2005 to serve on the state’s Commission on National and Community Service, White was recently named by the Governor to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the coordinating body for 51 public colleges, universities, community colleges, and technology centers.

White sits on the boards of directors for the ETSU Foundation, the Economic Development Board, the Johnson City Development Authority, and Boys and Girls Club of Johnson City/Washington County. He currently serves as chair of the Johnson City Regional Planning Commission, and he is active in many aspects in his church, including service as deacon, youth director, and assistant treasurer.

White is married to the former Karen Cunningham, who earned a master of arts in teaching degree at ETSU in 1992. The couple has a son, Joel.