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District Energy System

General Manager's Corner

Tim HestleFall 2014
By: Tim Hestle

A Few Good Men

In 1992, a film was released depicting the court-martial of two U.S. Marines for the murder of a fellow Marine on their base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The name of this film was “A Few Good Men.” Even though this story shares the same title, the following article is quite different.

We lost two influential Nashvillians over the past year with ties to the Nashville District Energy System.

The first, Ted Welch, was a legend in the Nashville business community. The son of schoolteachers, Ted grew up on a farm near Parsons, in Decatur County, Tenn. He attended the University of Tennessee at Martin on a football scholarship, and he was junior class president, captain of the football team, and a member of the boxing, track and tennis teams. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1955.

Ted began his career as a salesman for the Southwestern Publishing Co., selling Bibles door to door. Due to his outstanding performance, he worked his way up the ladder and became the company's executive vice president. In 1970, he left Southwestern to serve as commissioner of Finance and Administration and chief operating officer for the state of Tennessee under Gov. Winfield Dunn.

It turned out that he had a knack for political fundraising, which gave him national notoriety. It's said that the most feared words in the English language were: “Ted Welch is holding on line 1.” The person answering the phone was about to get a full-court-press fundraising pitch from one of the most effective and sought-after Republican fundraisers in the nation. For several decades, candidates for mayor, governor, senator and president requested his assistance. He gladly supported the likes of Winfield Dunn, Lamar Alexander, Howard Baker, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, Bill Frist, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, Marsha Blackburn, Bob Corker and Bill Haslam, to name a few. In a 1995 interview with The New York Times, Ted said, “Instead of playing golf, I raise money.”

Ted had a successful real estate investment firm and was considered a powerhouse in the commercial real estate community. He developed office buildings, helped redevelop downtown and was instrumental in the construction of the Nashville Convention Center. For nearly 30 years, Ted's second home was with his loyal staff in the Renaissance Office Tower, a building he developed atop the Renaissance Hotel adjacent to the convention center. The Office Tower, a Nashville District Energy System customer, leased office space to Constellation Energy, the district energy system operator, for several years.

He attended nearly every fundraising event in Nashville as he and his wife were heavily involved in local philanthropy. This included everything from the Boy Scouts of America to the Nashville Symphony. Even though he was not a golfer, he always supported the NDES Golf Tournament.

He received many well-deserved accolades. In 1987 he was chosen as the Tennessee Republican Statesman of the Year, an award presented to him by Henry Kissinger and Howard Baker. In 1989 he received the Outstanding Alumni Award from UT-Martin, and in 1998 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from Freed-Hardeman University.

Ted passed away at age 80 in March of this year. He was admired by many in the state of Tennessee and across the country. He will be remembered for his energy, loyalty, drive, giving nature and great personality for personally delivering Christmas gifts, and for being a friend.

Nashville native Jennings Bryan “J.B.” Loring Sr. passed away in September. He was a veteran of both the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Korea during the Korean War. After returning home, he attended the University of Tennessee, where he received his pre-law degree. He later attended Nashville School of Law, where he received his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. Interestingly, he never practiced law.

J.B. spent 30 years with Nashville Electric Service before retiring as director of risk management and human resources. He then served two terms as a Metro Council member representing District 15 in the Donelson-Hermitage area from 1999-2007. During his time as a councilman, his focus was on education and business. He also served on the Metro Planning Commission.

His background in government and experience in the energy business made him a perfect candidate for the Nashville Thermal Transfer Corporation board of directors and, later, the Nashville District Energy System Advisory Board, where he served as a board member representing Metro. He was chairman of the District Energy System board for several years. In December 2010, J.B. was honored along with Charles Harrison and Joe Sweat for their dedication and service on the NDES Advisory Board. Mayor Karl Dean presented the awards in an informal ceremony at the plant.

J.B. was a proud member of the Korean War Veterans Association for over 60 years. He was also a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion Post 88, where he served as legion commander for the state of Tennessee from 1997-1998. He was a Mason, a member of the Al Menah Shrine and a member of the Donelson Church of Christ.

J.B will be remembered for his big smile, his colloquialisms and his public service.

The movie I mentioned at the beginning of this article was filled with famous Hollywood stars like Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon and Kiefer Sutherland. It was nominated for four Academy Awards and received five Golden Globe nominations. “A Few Good Men” displays enduring integrity despite difficult circumstances, and Ted and J.B. are real-life examples that such integrity exists. Ted Welch and J.B. Loring were stars for their service to the city of Nashville, the DES and others in general. Gentlemen, thank you for your legacy. You will be missed.