DeVan Ard was a banker who knew that people are the most valuable thing in life.
A man who dealt with stocks and bonds, but believed the best investment, was time spent with family.
DeVan liked to hit the ground running early each morning.
It was a habit he picked up at his very first job as a 14-year-old Sunday morning paperboy in Birmingham, Alabama. He remembered tying the strings around the papers on cold mornings before the sun came up. Even though his career path evolved beyond those early days tossing papers, that push—to get the job started in the early morning—always stuck with him.
After he graduated from Vanderbilt in 1977, he then earned his masters in business administration from University of Alabama in 1985 and went into banking. In the late 1990s, he left Birmingham, and moved to Nashville, running AmSouth’s Middle Tennessee operations.
About a decade later, in 2006, DeVan founded Reliant Bank in Brentwood. He wanted to give people a community bank—one where customers felt welcome, and employees felt like a family.
They were proud of their tight-knit group. DeVan made it a priority to clear his schedule to spend time with a new hire whenever they were brought on board. “We need to wrap our arms around them,” he’d say.
There were also some good-natured pranks. DeVan loved Alabama football so much, that he would bring a little music box with the Crimson Tide’s fight song to meetings and after a win, he’d ceremoniously open it and let it play without saying a word. His comedic timing was second to none.
He was a philanthropist, an avid golfer, and a man of faith.
His work was important to him, but nothing mattered more than his family. His wife, Karen, was the love of his life. He had five children, two boys and three girls, and he had six grandchildren who kept him young…and busy. Mention any one of his family members, and DeVan would light up like Christmas morning.
Reliant Bank thrived, and eventually both DeVan and his bank became an attractive partner for United Community Bank. In 2022, United acquired the bank and DeVan stayed on as the Tennessee State President.
It wasn’t widely known that during the merger, DeVan was battling stomach cancer. He continued to show up for meetings and take phone calls and answer questions, steadfastly preserving the legacy his team had worked hard to build.
He said once in an interview, “To be able to…make a difference for our community and our company is what excites me. It never goes away. I feel the same way every day when I get up. Every day doesn’t have the same outcome, but I never go home at night thinking, ‘Gosh, I just didn’t do anything today.’”
On June 23, DeVan was up early because, as usual, and he wanted to get things done. He called in his friends and family, and he told them he loved them. He told them goodbye, and after doing everything he set out to accomplish, DeVan finished his day early.
We are grateful for the example he set to work hard for your community; to spend time with your family and friends, and to get up early to make a difference every day.
Services for DeVan Ard will be held Tuesday, June 28 at 3 p.m. CST, with a celebration of life to follow at approximately 4:30 p.m.
- Service: Christ Presbyterian Church | 2323 Old Hickory Blvd, Nashville, TN 37215
- Celebration of Life: Old Natchez Country Club | 115 Gardengate Drive, Franklin, TN 37069