The Making of a Gentleman – 2021

Guiding Values Discussed by Local Gentlemen 

Being a gentleman in 2021 looks a little different than it did a few centuries, or even a few decades, ago. Long gone are the rigorous rules surrounding courting and dining etiquette – not to mention such “gentlemanly pursuits” as dueling. Yet certain aspects of the gentleman remain constant: a calm spirit, a respectful manner, a giving nature. Perhaps George Bernard Shaw sums it up best: “A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out.”

In their own words, the following six men tackle the concept of the Southern gentleman. Here, they share what principles guide them and how their past experiences and influences have defined and shaped them into who they are today.


By Mary Beth Wallace / Photography by Rich Smith / On Location at Whiskey Thief


R. Curtis McKoy, MD, FACC, FSCAI (Above)

Interventional Cardiologist and CEO/Owner, Consultants in Cardiac & Vascular Diseases

I was raised in rural North Carolina, in a household of very little significant material wealth. Orchestrated by my parents, there was a wealth of knowledge passed down concerning manners, honoring my parents and elders, and a very unique work ethic. At a young age, the vital teachings of performing my chores, acquiring a summer job, and attending worship services were instilled.

Men of integrity in multiple fields of my professional life and Christian faith have helped to guide my course through the trials and tribulations of life. I deem it an absolute privilege to aid in the caring of people with medical crises. My efforts are guided toward seeking not only their physical recovery, but their spiritual healing as well. My quest is to glorify God through the experiences and the deeds of my life.

Rick Huffines standing in Whiskey Thief


Rick Huffines

Executive Director, Tennessee River Gorge Trust

The shaping of who I am has been a flowing process guided by many. When water flows down a mountain, it carries a song that is cradled by the collective forces of nature. It sings differently with each opposition it encounters. It falls gracefully from harrowing heights, then collects its shattered pieces and sings again. It faces resistance and gently changes course without moving an obstacle from its place. When it reaches its destination, it gives itself back to the sun to make way for the water coming behind it.  

I believe it’s the collective good of people that shapes a gentleman. The good they bestow lives forever in the vapor each one of us becomes — the vapor that will transform again into water and flow beside the next generation down the mountain, reminding us along the way to speak softer during our journey.


Gentle is

By Rick Huffines

a giving hand
a quiet tongue

a humble mind
a chatoyant core

intentions pure
perfection none

credit given
none so taken

when all is done
rest be sought

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Roland Carter at Whiskey Theif


Roland Carter

Professor Emeritus, UTC

I suppose for me, learning to be a gentleman began as far back as I can remember – to interactions with my mother. When I was growing up, my mother always told me to say, “Yes ma’am,” and she engrained in me the concept of “ladies first.” These two things helped me to develop a feeling of respect for not only the opposite sex, but for everyone I encountered. 

I think nowadays the word respect is misunderstood. Respect does not necessarily mean you agree with someone. Whether you agree or not, respect is honoring the right and the privilege we all have to think and to be. The respect – and the kindness – that you offer people will ultimately be returned to you. I am forever indebted to my mother for instilling those principles in me from such a young age.

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Ryan Crimmins at Whiskey Theif


Ryan Crimmins

Chairman, Lawson Electric

As I think back, I was fortunate to have a mom and dad who instilled in me the importance of faith. Dad used to tell me that if I could stay out late on Saturday night, then I could get up and go to church on Sunday. I have tried to adhere to that, and having faith as a foundation has paid off for me and our family. After I graduated from college, Scotty Probasco reinforced that commitment to faith, advising me “to live your life well; prioritize faith, then family, then business.”  

Also, I was very lucky to outkick my coverage and marry Boofie. She has always kept me focused and helped me keep my priorities in line. A great joy in our life has been to see our kids grow and develop into successful young adults.

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Chad Dirkse at Whiskey Theif


Chad Dirkse

President, Chattanooga Christian School

When my oldest daughter was married three and a half years ago, I was overcome with emotion as I considered the number of people from all over the country who had shaped and formed who she had become. The deep sense of gratitude I felt was not only for the impact of family, friends, co-workers, and mentors on my daughter, but for the myriad of ways so many people have shaped and formed me and my wife, Heather. Some have been in our lives for a short time, and some for decades, but each has played a critical role in helping us navigate the ebbs and flows of our complicated life journey. 

The most important and necessary things this life-giving village has taught me are self-awareness, empathy, and courage. In my day-to-day life and leadership, I count their influence in these areas, and many others, as irreplaceable and priceless.  

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Jim Vaughn


Jim Vaughn

Chattanooga Market President, Truist

I was raised on a farm in a rural community. The daily expectations were to work from daylight until sundown. Hard work and sacrifices were made to provide support for both your family and the community. This type of discipline set my moral code and the values I continue to have today. I now find myself fortunate to serve the Chattanooga community in my role at Truist, where values such as trustworthiness, caring for others, and a success-driven approach align with my personal values. I truly believe that living your purpose and displaying the best of your values are among the attributes that make a true gentleman.

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