Five Tennessee bankers were honored by the TBA at the Leaders in Banking Excellence ceremony on August 9, 2023. Commemorative plaques highlighting the careers of each of the honorees were unveiled at the TBA’s headquarters building in Nashville. The 2023 inductees are among a distinguished group representing Tennessee bankers past and present who have excelled in the areas of banking, community service, and civic involvement.
The ceremony featured remarks by TBA Chairman Jim Rieniets, president and CEO, InsBank, TDFI Commissioner Greg Gonzales, and the honorees/family members. The 2023 honorees were Thomas E. Bates Jr. (Legends Bank), Larry R. Estepp (Citizens Bank), Lee Moss (MidSouth Bank), James J. Penland (First Vision Bank), and Jim Windrow (Capstar Bank).
TBA member banks can submit nominations for the honor. The TBA board of directors reviews and approves the applications.
“One of the main missions of the Tennessee Bankers Association is to recognize our members for being involved in making our industry better and in making their communities better places to work and live,” said Colin Barrett, TBA president and CEO. “The Leaders in Banking Excellence recognizes those who have made a difference, and we hope it will be an inspiration to other bankers across the state.”
For more information about Leaders in Banking Excellence, click here.
Thomas E. Bates Jr.
A native of Middle Tennessee, Thomas (Tommy) E. Bates., Jr. began his career as an FDIC bank examiner, then transitioned to First American National Bank in 1992. A commercial lender role led him to the Clarksville area, where he would later help establish Legends Bank in 1998. Bates would eventually be named president and CEO of the locally owned institution. He is a staunch advocate for community banking, having served as chair of the TBA Independent Bankers Division and director of the Independent Community Bankers of America. He has led numerous boards, including the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Board, the Montgomery County Community Health Foundation, and the Rotary Club.
Larry R. Estepp
From his nearly 50-year banking career to his civic pride in Northeast Tennessee, Larry Estepp is the embodiment of a community banker. Beginning in 1973, Estepp spent nearly four decades with First Tennessee Bank before joining Elizabethton’s Citizens Bank in 2011. After serving as executive vice president of commercial lending, he was tapped as the bank’s seventh president in 2018. Under his leadership, the institution’s assets crossed the $1 billion threshold. Estepp has held leadership positions in numerous community, professional, business development and charitable organizations. For his efforts, Estepp has received several awards, including Kingsport Chamber Distinguished Leadership Award, and Washington County Ruritan of the Year.
Lee Moss spent 48 years in the banking industry after graduating from the University of Tennessee. He served as chairman and CEO of MidSouth Bank and president of Franklin Synergy Bank, leading them into a successful merger with FirstBank. Moss graduated from the Graduate School of Banking at LSU and served as TBA Chairman in 2017. He led various boards, including Ascension St. Thomas Health, Rutherford County Chamber, and Phi Gamma Delta. His notable accolades include being named the Chamber’s 2019 Business Legend and 2006 Business Person of the Year, 2012 YMCA’s Humanitarian of the Year, and 2004 MTSU’s Champion of Free Enterprise Award. Moss and his wife, Susan, have been married more than 50 years, and they are proud parents of four children and six grandchildren.
James J. Penland
First Vision Bank
James (Jim) Penland exemplifies the best in family, patriotism, and banking. Upon graduating from the University of Georgia, Penland entered the United States Army and attended Officer’s Candidate School. After serving in Vietnam, he began his banking career at Gainesville National Bank in Georgia in 1971. In 1982, he moved his family to Winchester and assumed the duties as president and CEO of Franklin County Bank. The institution was acquired by Regions in 1993 and Penland served as group president. In 2005, Penland was the driving force behind the formation of First Vision Bank of Tennessee, where he served as CEO and chairman for 12 years, and chairman for another five years until his retirement in 2022.
With a stellar career spanning more than five decades, Jim Windrow is a distinguished figure in Tennessee banking. Starting his journey in 1969 at First American National Bank, he honed his expertise in loan administration and correspondent banking, eventually becoming executive vice president. Later, at BBVA Compass Bank, he expanded his portfolio by managing approximately 100 correspondent accounts across Tennessee and Kentucky. In 2012, Windrow began his tenure as senior vice president of correspondent banking at CapStar Bank, establishing strong business relationships across the South. For more than 50 years, Windrow has been a friend and mentor to many bankers across Tennessee. His strategic insights and leadership have had a profound impact on the Southeastern banking landscape.