JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The man responsible for spearheading the Roan Scholar Leadership program at East Tennessee State University (ETSU) died Wednesday, according to an email from the university Thursday morning.
Louis “Louie” H. Gump died at 83 surrounded by family and friends, the announcement from ETSU President Dr. Brian Noland stated. The Johnson City native and University of North Carolina graduate was a Morehead Scholar during his undergraduate studies and launched a similar program in 2000 for students in his hometown.
Before returning to Johnson City in 1963 as the treasurer of two family-owned businesses, Gump served as an officer in the U.S. Navy, working on the destroyer USS O’Brien. His return to Northeast Tennessee allowed him and his late wife Lucy to raise a family together.
Gump aimed to further educational opportunities for young learners across the region and co-founded both Hands On! Museum and East Tennessee Hospice. The philanthropist also served on the Johnson City Medical Center Hospital Board, Watauga Area Mental Health Board, ETSU Foundation Board, Bank of Tennessee Board and Milligan College President’s Advisory Council.
Between these ventures, Gump enjoyed meeting Roan Scholars over breakfast and was described as having “[challenged] and [supported] those around him to be the best versions of themselves.”
“He lived by the idea that ‘leadership begins with breakfast,'” the email states. “He greatly valued connection, and on any given morning you might see him at a local restaurant, meeting for breakfast with Roan Scholars, ETSU alumni or other community leaders over his favorite morning meal — a bowl of oatmeal.”
Officials awarded Gump with the George L. Carter Award in 2011, ETSU’s Margin of Excellence Award and the Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor’s Award for Philanthropy. He is also a member of the ETSU College of Business and Technology Hall of Fame.
“Beyond Mr. Gump’s exceptional list of accomplishments and accolades, his true legacy lies in how he made others feel. When you met with Mr. Gump, you could sense a genuine desire to connect; you had his undivided attention. His ability to remember the names and details of those he encountered was astounding, especially considering the many people who crossed his path every day and over the course of his lifetime.Brian Noland, ETSU President
And, although he possessed a vast reservoir of knowledge and experience, he approached everyone he met with a desire to learn from them, recognizing and honoring their unique perspectives and expertise. Losing someone like that is heart-wrenching, and we offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to his loved ones. I hope you will join me in taking a moment to reflect on Mr. Gump’s contributions not just to this university but to our region and the world. Though we mourn his loss, we can celebrate a life well-lived. ”
Outside Johnson City, Gump trekked the Mt. Everest Base Camp Area, according to an obituary posted on Morris-Baker’s website. Another adventure of his included climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro and visiting all seven continents.
He is survived by four children, seven grandchildren, two sisters and extended family. A graveside service will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 23 at Monte Vista Memorial Park. Family and friends are asked to meet at the graveside by 9:50 a.m.