Public service — whether on the state or local stage — is a common theme among the three new inductees into the Junior Achievement Northwest Georgia Business Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame, which honors individuals who have made a lasting impact on the community, expands to 28 members with the induction in April of the late W.W. Fincher, a state senator and businessman; David Pennington, current mayor of Dalton and managing director of Advanced Insurance Strategies; and Joe W. Yarbrough, senior vice president of advanced manufacturing engineering for Mohawk Industries.
Also being honored is Charlie Bethel, a state senator and a human resources executive with J&J Industries, who will receive the Junior Achievement Rising Star award. The accolade highlights a younger person who is making strides in the business world.
The eighth annual Hall of Fame event is Tuesday, April 16, at the trade center. A reception and silent auction begin at 6:15 p.m. with dinner and the induction ceremony following at 7 p.m. The event is black tie optional. Tickets are $125; tables of 10 are $1,000. For more information, contact JA at (706) 278-9180. The event’s title sponsors are the Kenneth E. Boring Charitable Foundation and Mohawk Industries.
Founded in 1964, the Junior Achievement Northwest Georgia District is based in Dalton. The district serves Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield counties. More than 9,400 students in 38 schools and 400 classrooms learn real-life business skills from volunteers and board and staff members from Junior Achievement. Volunteers from area businesses as well as parents and retirees teach business and personal finance skills to children through the JA program.
Here are profiles of the new inductees:
Diverse is a word that could describe the business, social and political pursuits throughout the life of the late William Wesley “Bill” Fincher Jr.
Fincher was born May 16, 1914, in Canton. After completing pharmacy school at the University of South Carolina in 1933, he followed in his father’s footsteps by opening Fincher Drug Co. in 1935 with the help of his brother, Jack. Shortly after starting the business, Fincher met Eunice (Peg) Loughridge, who was a native of Murray County and taught school there. They married in 1936. After 16 years as a pharmacist, Fincher sold the business and operated a chain of theaters in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.
He was active for more than 60 years in the Lions Club, holding various offices; was a long-time member of the Masonic Order, serving as president of the Echota-Vann Shrine Club; and was a member of both Murray County and Whitfield County chambers of commerce. He was active in the Murray County Historical Society and served on the board of the Chatsworth Murray County Library. He was a loyal supporter of Dalton State College and served as a trustee of the Dalton State College Foundation from 1976-1982 and 1991-1996.
In 1964, Fincher was elected to the Georgia State Senate from the 54th Senatorial District, comprised of Catoosa, Murray and Whitfield counties. He served in the Senate for 26 years. While in the Senate, Fincher served as chairman of the Higher Education Committee, chairman of the Health and Welfare Committee, and on the Banking and Finance Committee, Appropriations Committee, Human Resources Committee and Interstate Cooperation Committee.
He and his wife founded the Fincher-Loughridge Foundation in 1985 to support colleges, youth homes and churches in the North Georgia area. To date the foundation has contributed more than $1 million to its beneficiaries.
He passed away at age 91 on April 15, 2006. Fincher and his wife have three daughters and 10 grandchildren.
It seems fitting that a person who had his first job at age 15 with the Dalton Public Works Department would later become the city’s mayor.
David Pennington was born in Vincennes, Ind., in 1952 but has made Dalton his home for much of his life. He is a graduate of Dalton High School, Dalton Junior College and the University of Georgia. Pennington has spent most of his professional career in the insurance industry. He began with Metropolitan Life as a sales representative in 1978 and has worked for several insurance companies.
Since 2009, he has been managing director of Advanced Insurance Strategies. He is a third generation — and the third David Pennington — to be an independent insurance agent in Dalton. His grandfather began his career as an insurance agent in 1937.
In 2007, voters elected Pennington mayor of Dalton. He was re-elected for a second term in 2011. As mayor, Pennington has worked to lower the city’s tax rate, bring in new business and make Dalton more attractive to young professionals.
Accolades include Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year (1995), Dalton Rotary Club W. Lee Arrendale Vocational Excellence Award (2011) and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award (2012).
He has served as past director of Hardwick Bank and Trust; past director of Hamilton Medical Center; current and founding board member of the Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership; past director and chairman of the Dalton-Whitfield Chamber of Commerce; past director and president of the Dalton Education Foundation; trustee of the Dalton State College Foundation; past director and president for Habitat for Humanity; and director of GEEARS, a statewide board for promoting early childhood education.
He and his wife Pam have two grown children.
Talk about learning a strong work ethic early on in life.
Joe Yarbrough began washing dishes at the Alatoona Landing at the young age of 12.
He later graduated from Auburn University in 1970 with a degree in mechanical engineering. After graduation, he began a career with Harmon-White Engineering in Opelika, Ala.
Beginning in 1972, Yarbrough spent six years in various positions with Coronet Industries. He joined Aladdin Mills in June 1978 as director of manufacturing. Aladdin Mills merged with Calhoun-based Mohawk Industries in February 1994 and in early 1995 Yarbrough was named vice president of manufacturing. In March 2004, he became executive vice president of operations. He currently serves as senior vice president of advanced manufacturing engineering.
These roles provided Yarbrough an opportunity to lead the integration of new technologies for the business and to be active in the assimilation of numerous mergers and acquisitions.
Yarbrough has been active in the community. He serves on the Board of Commissioners of the Water, Light and Sinking Fund Commission (Dalton Utilities’ governing board); board of directors of RossWoods Adult Day Services, where he also is the chairman of the building campaign steering committee; board of directors of the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, where he is immediate past board chairman; board of directors of Georgia Northwestern Technical College; board of directors of the Technical College System of Georgia (appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal); board of directors of the Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership, where he is also an executive board member; Christian Heritage School endowment foundation board; board of directors of the United Way of Northwest Georgia; chairman of the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) Strategic Issues Leadership Council (SILC); board of directors of Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE); and Mohawk campaign chair for the United Way of Northwest Georgia (2012-2013).
He and his wife Nanette have five grown children and eight grandchildren.