Jim Haslam, a champion of Knoxville and UT, shares fascinating story of his life


Jim Haslam’s new autobiography, “Co-Piloting: Luck, Leadership and Learning that it’s all about Others,” is a fascinating book by Knoxville’s best known businessman and philanthropist.

Available at Pilot stations here in Knoxville and on amazon.com, it is well worth purchasing. Proceeds from the book, $27, will go to local nonprofits that encourage young people to get in business. 

Haslam’s book includes stories many do not know about Haslam and his arrival at the University of Tennessee as a football player in the 1950s. Haslam, who turns 90 in December, is as active as ever and up to date on current events and politics.

Haslam truly believes in Knoxville and Knox County. During my 16 years as mayor, I found he was a ready and willing resource to advocate and assist in any city project that he felt moved Knoxville forward. He would do this for any mayor, whether he had supported their election or not. He is that kind of person.

He puts the community first, and this approach has been passed on to his children, Jimmy, Ann and Bill.

Many of his contributions are known and applauded, while others remain out of sight but still pivotal and appreciated by those who know about it.

He helped create and then lead the Public Building Authority, which brought the governments of Knoxville and Knox County into the same building. While the ultimate hope was it would lead to unified government (it did not), it did bring the governments closer together. Haslam chaired it for many years.

His son Bill, the former governor, is writing a book on politics and faith, which will be coming out next year. It, too, should generate real interest.

The effort to deny Eddie Mannis the Republican nomination for state representative in District 18, which he won squarely and fairly, has ended. The GOP state executive committee voted 43-18 to uphold his victory.

The loser, Gina Oster, who had previously lost a school board race to Doug Harris, wanted to nullify the win on the grounds that Democrats must have crossed over and voted for Mannis.

Tennessee does not have party registration. Crossover voting is legal. It often happens. Democrats are citizens, too, entitled to vote. If in fact there are Democrats who backed Mannis in this West Knoxville district, it will help him in November against Democrat Virginia Couch.

The makeup of this district is moderate and closely divided between the two parties. Mannis and Couch are both competent, honest people. It should make for an interesting race.

As Mannis showed in this recent contest, he will not attack Couch but will stress his background as businessman, founder of the HonorAir program for veterans and chairman of the Airport Authority. Couch will push her status as an attorney with the Trust Company. Mannis never once criticized Oster despite her rainstorm of attacks on him.

Mannis, a strong University of Tennessee supporter, will stress the need for the Knoxville campus to have a legislative advocate in Nashville. Couch will oppose Gov. Bill Lee’s vouchers for schools program and supports abortion rights. Both favor moving the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust out of the State Capitol to the State Museum.

After these internal far right attacks on Mannis, calling Mannis a “rubber stamp” for anyone will lack credibility.

Jane George, Democratic nominee for state senator, faces Becky Duncan Massey in an uphill climb. For some reason, George thinks Massey’s family being in office is a liability and continually refers to the Duncan dynasty, which ended two years ago. Furthermore, George ought to recognize that the father and son, John J. Duncan and Jimmy Duncan, served 52 years combined because the voters wanted it.

George has recently attacked Massey over education issues, but the Knox County Education Association and the Tennessee Education Association are backing Massey. Massey is viewed by most legislative observers as a progressive Republican by Tennessee standards.


Sept. 6: Julie Webb, widow of Webb School founder Bob Webb, is 94. Brandalyn Breeden is 34. Mary Pom Claiborne is 58. Tyler Roy, founder of Pipes and Drums, is 35.

Sept. 7: Knoxville attorney Bruce Anderson is 70. Carlton Long is 63. Frank Venable III is 57. Former city law director George W. Morton Jr. is 93. Former UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek is 74. County Commissioner Kyle Ward is 35. Lou Moran III is 56. Landscape architect Steve Hackney is 58.

Sept. 8: Former county commissioner Wanda Moody is 91. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is 79. Cary Slatery, wife of state Atty. Gen. Herb Slatery, is 68. Dr. Marek Pienkowski is 75.

Sept. 9: Pete DeBusk is 78. Kathy Hawes is 46. Steve Queisser is 56. Jennifer Mirtes is 48. TVA board member Jeff Smith is 61.

Sept. 10: Judge Bill Ailor is 64. Annie Jones, widow of the late councilman Casey Jones, is 76. Former city information director Janet Wright is 68. Hadley Gamble is 39. Jeff Talman is 63. John Hamilton III is 57. Sabra Tatum is 70. Mary Spengler is 74.

Sept. 12: City Councilman Charles Thomas is 66. Madge Cleveland, former mayoral office manager, is 64.



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