The Making of a Gentleman – 2022

Guiding Values Discussed by Local Gentlemen

In today’s day and age, what it means to be a gentleman is ever-evolving. But becoming a gentleman isn’t about the end destination. It’s not about awards won, dollars given, or any other quantifiable factor. It’s about honoring the very people, organizations, and ideals that have served as building blocks for a life well-lived. Here, six area men dive into what exactly shaped them into the individuals they are today and how they continue to use their moral compass to expertly navigate the waters known as life. 

Photography by Rich Smith | On Location at The Chattanoogan



“Without a doubt, my mother was the most influential force in my life. She taught me life lessons and raised me ‘the right way,’ as she put it. My mother’s definition of being raised the right way began with having a healthy dose of self-respect followed closely with respecting all people. As I became older and began playing on school basketball teams, my coaches became surrogate parents who reinforced the same principles my mother was stressing at home. My mother instilled in me the mindset of working hard at everything I do, and that was a major factor in the level of success I was able to experience as an athlete – being a part of teams that won the state of Kentucky basketball championship and the national championship at UTC. Fast forward to adulthood when basketball is no longer a factor in my life, and I’m thankful that I was able to play on championship teams, receive a free college education in the process, and develop deep and lasting friendships along the way. However, it was the lessons taught to me by my mother that have molded me into the man that I am today.” 

(Above) Herbert “Book” McCray, Retired Educator and Founder, Boys to Men: A Male Mentoring Model

Frank Borck, Founder of Brow Wood


“My parents loved me. They believed in me, disciplined me, and sent me to good schools. As a teenager, I saw my father courageously and tirelessly work for peaceful desegregation. My parents introduced me to an NC Pioneer Camp without electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing where I learned that happiness does not come from having more stuff. At McCallie, I learned that man’s chief end is to glorify God. My wife, Dottie, taught me unconditional love by the way she loved me and our children and encouraged me during hard times. My church taught me biblical principles for a godly husband and father. Hourly workers at Brock Candy Company showed me the dedication required to do any job well, and they became living examples of the salt of the earth. Doug Coe taught the power of a few committed to Christ and one another who would pray for the city. I owe so much to so many, especially the Teacher, Jesus!”

Frank Brock, Founder, Brow Wood

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Ish Patel, honorary chairman of vision hospitality group, inc.


“I was born and raised in a small farming village in India. While we had no electricity or running water, we were fortunate to have a tremendous family support system. At a young age, my parents instilled in me personal values such as hard work, integrity, respect, faith, and community. My parents also gave me an opportunity to pursue an education. I was the first in my family to graduate high school and go to college; that education gave me an opportunity to come to this great country. After spending my first 10 years in California, my wife and I moved our family to Cleveland, Tennessee, and I am grateful to call this area our home of more than 42 years. The people and culture of the South resonated with my cultural upbringing, and infusing one with the other has made me who I am today. The Chattanooga area is home. It is where we have grown a business and raised a family on the same values that I grew up with. I am proud to be an American, and I am honored to be called a Southern Gentleman.”

Ish Patel, Honorary Chairman, Vision Hospitality Group, Inc.

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Joe Ferguson, former chairman of EPB


“I consider myself fortunate to have been raised in the South when, during my formative years, gentility was more the rule than the exception. I was taught at an early age the importance of respect for and consideration of others. Faith, family, and country were the mainstays of our family. ‘Yes Sir,’ and ‘Yes Ma’am,’ were expected of us and genuinely appreciated. As a teenager, I would be up before 4 a.m. to deliver newspapers, which resulted in disciplines still embedded in me. I also learned lessons from valued friends and mentors including the great value of teamwork and that, yes, strength does come from adversity. I pray for a return to a more genteel and unified country and often think of how much better off we would all be.”

Joe Ferguson, Former Chairman, EPB

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Miller Welborn, chairman of smart bank


“Wendell Berry once said, ‘It is not from ourselves that we learn to be better than we are.’ I have been very fortunate in my life to have had multiple men and women who have influenced me in various ways. I was raised in a family that was filled with a tremendous amount of love, and my father died when I was in my early 20s, requiring me to grow up pretty fast. Adversity is a great teacher, and it continues to teach me daily. But I will quickly add that without the grace of God, I would not have the faith, family, or work that I enjoy daily. I believe strongly that there are two types of people in the world: givers and takers. If I look back over my life, I have been surrounded by many givers who have inspired me to grow and ‘give’ myself to others. My wife, Karen, is the best giver and teacher that I have ever known.”

Miller Welborn, Chairman, SmartBank

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Yancy Freeman, PhD, vice chancellor for engrollment management and student affiars at UTC


“My mother provided my earliest memories of the meaning of words like respect, servant leader, kindness, and self-worth. I grew up in a single parent household with seven siblings in Memphis, Tennessee. My mother was the strongest person I have ever known because she understood sacrifice, faith, and love. I thrive on the support of my wife, children, parents-in-love, siblings, UTC family, and magnificent friends. My life mantras are: “Let my actions speak so loudly that you do not hear my words,” from Ralph Waldo Emerson and “I never fail. I either win or I learn,” from Nelson Mandela. My faith in Christ compels me to demonstrate compassion, empathy, and love for others. I am humbled to receive this recognition with such a prestigious group of gentlemen.”

Yancy Freeman, PhD, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

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