Jake Butcher

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Jake Butcher
Jacob Franklin Butcher

May 8, 1936
DiedJuly 19, 2017(2017-07-19) (aged 81)
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
EducationHorace Maynard High School
Alma mater University of Tennessee
Hiwassee College
Occupationformer banker and politician
Known forbank fraud
Board member ofGreater Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, East Tennessee Heart Association, Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church
Spouse(s) Sonya Wilde
Parent(s)Cecil Hilque Butcher Sr. [1]

Jacob Franklin Butcher (May 8, 1936 July 19, 2017) was an American banker and politician. He built a financial empire in East Tennessee, was the Democratic Party nominee for governor of Tennessee in 1978. He was also the primary promoter of the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee, and lost his business and his personal fortune after he was found to have engaged in bank fraud.

East Tennessee comprises approximately the eastern third of the U.S. state of Tennessee, one of the three Grand Divisions of Tennessee defined in state law. East Tennessee consists of 33 counties, 30 located within the Eastern Time Zone and three counties in the Central Time Zone, namely Bledsoe, Cumberland, and Marion. East Tennessee is entirely located within the Appalachian Mountains, although the landforms range from densely forested 6,000-foot (1,800 m) mountains to broad river valleys. The region contains the major cities of Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Johnson City, Tennessee's third, fourth, and ninth largest cities, respectively.

Governor of Tennessee head of state and of government of the U.S. state of Tennessee

The Governor of Tennessee is the head of government of the U.S. state of Tennessee. The governor is the only official in Tennessee state government who is directly elected by the voters of the entire state.

1978 Tennessee gubernatorial election

The 1978 Tennessee gubernatorial election was held on November 7, 1978. Republican nominee Lamar Alexander defeated Democratic nominee Jake Butcher with 55.84% of the vote.


Early life and banking career

Butcher was born in the rural town of Maynardville Union County, Tennessee. His father, Cecil H. Butcher Sr., was a general store manager and bank president in Union County. After attending the University of Tennessee and Hiwassee College, Jake Butcher served in the United States Marine Corps. [2]

Union County, Tennessee U.S. county in Tennessee

Union County is a county located in the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of the 2010 census, the population was 19,109. Its county seat is Maynardville.

General store rural or small town store

A general merchant store is a rural or small town store that carries a general line of merchandise. It carries a broad selection of merchandise, sometimes in a small space, where people from the town and surrounding rural areas come to purchase all their general goods. The store carries routine stock and obtains special orders from warehouses. It differs from a convenience store or corner shop in that it will be the main shop for the community rather than a convenient supplement.

University of Tennessee Public university in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

The University of Tennessee is a public research university in Knoxville, Tennessee. Founded in 1794, two years before Tennessee became the 16th state, it is the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee system, with ten undergraduate colleges and eleven graduate colleges. It hosts almost 28,000 students from all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries. In its 2019 universities ranking, U.S. News & World Report ranked UT 115th among all national universities and 52nd among public institutions of higher learning. Seven of its alumni have been selected as Rhodes Scholars. James M. Buchanan, M.S. '41, received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economics. UT's ties to nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory, established under UT President Andrew Holt and continued under the UT–Battelle partnership, allow for considerable research opportunities for faculty and students.

Having worked at their father's bank during their youth, Butcher and his younger brother C. H. Butcher Jr. began buying stock in numerous Tennessee banks starting in 1968. By 1974, the Butcher brothers owned or controlled eight banks, and Jake Butcher's United American Bank controlled 39% of the banking reserves in Knoxville, Tennessee. By 1982, UAB was responsible for over 50% of Knoxville's business loans and Butcher's personal net worth was declared to be about $34 million. [2] In the late 1970s, United American Bank built its 27-story headquarters, the Plaza Tower, which remains Knoxville's tallest building. [3] [4] In the early 1980s, C. H. Butcher's City and County Bank began building the Riverview Tower, which remains the city's second-tallest building. [5]

Knoxville, Tennessee City in Tennessee, United States

Knoxville is a city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, and the county seat of Knox County. As of the 2010 census, the city has a population of 178,874, and is Tennessee's third largest city after Nashville and Memphis. Knoxville is the principal city of the Knoxville Metropolitan Statistical Area, which was 868,546 in 2015.

Net worth is the value of all the non-financial and financial assets owned by an institutional unit or sector minus the value of all its outstanding liabilities. Since financial assets minus outstanding liabilities equal net financial assets, net worth can also be conveniently expressed as non-financial assets plus net financial assets. Net worth can apply to companies, individuals, governments or economic sectors such as the sector of financial corporations or to entire countries.

First Tennessee Plaza Tallest building in Knoxville, Tennessee

The First Tennessee Plaza, or Plaza Tower, is an office high-rise located at 800 Gay Street in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. Completed in 1978, the 27-story structure is Knoxville's tallest building, as well as the tallest building in Tennessee outside of Nashville and Memphis, and an iconic part of the city's skyline. The building was originally known as the United American Plaza, with its current name being adopted in 1995 to reflect its anchor tenant, First Tennessee.

Public life

By the early 1970s, Jake Butcher became a topic of discussion in Tennessee political circles. In 1974, he sought the Democratic Party nomination for Governor of Tennessee, but he lost to Ray Blanton in the primary. After a bitter contest, Butcher earned the nomination in 1978, beating out former Nashville mayor Richard Fulton and newcomer Bob Clement. Butcher lost the general election later that year to Republican Lamar Alexander. [2]

Ray Blanton American politician

Leonard Ray Blanton was an American businessman and politician who served as Governor of Tennessee from 1975 to 1979. He also served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, from 1967 to 1973. Though he initiated a number of government reforms and was instrumental in bringing foreign investment to Tennessee, his term as governor was marred by scandal, namely over the selling of pardons and liquor licenses.

Primary elections or often just primaries, are the process by which voters can indicate their preference for their party's candidate, or a candidate in general, in an upcoming general election, local election, or by-election, with the goal of narrowing the field of candidates. Depending on the country and administrative divisions within the country, voters might consist of the general public in what is called an open primary, or the members of a political party in what is called a closed primary. In addition to these, there are other variants on primaries that are used by many countries holding elections throughout the world.

Nashville, Tennessee State capital and consolidated city-county in Tennessee, United States

Nashville is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Tennessee. The city is the county seat of Davidson County and is located on the Cumberland River. The city's population ranks 24th in the U.S. According to 2018 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the total consolidated city-county population stood at 692,587. The "balance" population, which excludes semi-independent municipalities within Davidson County, was 669,053 in 2018.

Rumors circulated that Butcher would make another run for the governorship in 1982. However, he supported Knoxville Mayor Randy Tyree, who defeated State Senator Anna Belle Clement O'Brien for the Democratic nomination. The Knoxville Journal reported that Jake's brother C.H. supported Tyree's Republican opponent, sitting Governor Lamar Alexander.[ citation needed ] Governor Alexander won re-election handily. [2]

Randell "Randy" Tyree is a Tennessee politician who served as mayor of Knoxville from 1976 to 1983 and was the Democratic candidate for Governor in 1982.

Anna Belle Clement OBrien American politician

Anna Belle Clement O'Brien was a Tennessee politician, nicknamed "the first lady of Tennessee politics." She served as the governor's chief of staff from 1963 to 1967, was a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives in the 89th General Assembly, from 1975 to 1977, and a Tennessee State Senator in the 90th to 96th General Assemblies, from 1977 to 1991. While she was not the first woman ever to be in the Tennessee Senate, she was the first woman ever to be a chairman of a committee. Senator Mildred Jolly Lashlee was Chair of the Public Utilities Committee 1945-1947 which was absorbed into Energy & Natural Resources Committee during Senator O'Brien's tenure. During her 22 years in the General Assembly, she was the chairperson for three committees: Education, Transportation, and the Democratic Caucus.

During that same year, the 1982 World's Fair opened in Knoxville, which Butcher and a group of fellow Knoxville business leaders had helped to attract. The fair was widely considered a success and brought in more than 11 million people over its six-month run. The World's Fair site is still in use today as a municipal park in downtown Knoxville. Adjacent to the main campus of the University of Tennessee, some of the World's Fair attractions are still standing and have been rehabilitated.

1982 Worlds Fair

The 1982 World's Fair, formally known as the Knoxville International Energy Exposition, was held in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States. The specialized Expo themed "Energy Turns the World", was recognized by the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE).

Also in 1982, there were rumors about Butcher's banking practices. Knoxville federal and state bank investigators had long suspected that Butcher was engaged in unlawful banking practices. On November 1, 1982, 180 federal bank regulators from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation simultaneously raided all of the Butcher brothers' 29 bank branches and offices, thereby preventing transfers of funds to cover their tracks. [6] Bank records ultimately led investigators on a paper trail of illegal loans, forged documents and various other forms of fraud. The United American Bank collapsed on 14 February 1983. It was the fourth-largest bank failure in US history up to that time. [6] [7] Seven other Butcher-controlled banks and the Southern Industrial Banking Corporation, a state licensed loan and thrift company run by C.H. Butcher, also became insolvent during the rest of 1983, and an additional three banks in 1984. The FDIC estimated that its losses in connection with the failed Butcher brother banks would total approximately $382.6 million. [8] Later that year, it was learned that Butcher was also insolvent; his assets were listed at $11.9 million and his liabilities at $32.5 million. [2]

Criminal conviction

Butcher pleaded guilty to federal charges of bank fraud in 1985 and was given a 20-year prison term. He was paroled in 1992, and resided in the Atlanta suburb of Canton, Georgia. [9] He reportedly worked for a Toyota distributor and as a real estate developer. [7] His assets were auctioned off to satisfy his creditors.

His brother C. H. Butcher Jr., [10] who also was sent to state prison for state securities fraud, was paroled in 1993 and died in 2002. [7]

Personal life and death

Butcher married the actress Sonya Wilde in 1962. [2] They had four children. [11]

Butcher died on July 19, 2017 at the age of 81. [12]

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  1. Travis, Fred. "SPOTLIGHT" . Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Bruce Wheeler, Jacob Franklin "Jake" Butcher, Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, 2009.
  3. Jerry Dean, "Plaza Building Being Sold," Knoxville News-Sentinel, 28 August 1997.
  4. Josh Flory, "City's Tallest Building Sold for Tall Price to N. Y. Group," Knoxville News-Sentinel, 12 July 2007.
  5. Bill Brewer, "Riverview Tower Sold to Lawler-Wood," Knoxville News-Sentinel, 3 January 2001.
  6. 1 2 Tapped Out, Time magazine, February 28, 1983
  7. 1 2 3 Butcher: Bank collapse after fair hurt city, Knoxville News Sentinel , May 2, 2007
  8. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Managing the Crisis: The FDIC and RTC Experience, Chapter 6: 1983. Retrieved: 14 February 2013.
  9. Drew Ruble, ""Vestige of Empire"". Archived from the original on November 14, 2006. Retrieved 2009-04-27.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link), BusinessTN magazine, July 2006.
  10. "IN MEMORIAL". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 20 July 2017.
  11. United Press International (1986-02-22). "Jake Butcher's Wife Fights To Keep Florida Home - tribunedigital-orlandosentinel". Articles.orlandosentinel.com. Retrieved 2017-06-05.
  12. "Jake Butcher, head of failed banking empire, dies" . Retrieved 24 October 2018.