January 16, 2009

Webb’s service, dedication to Vanderbilt recalled

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James A. Webb Jr.

Webb’s service, dedication to Vanderbilt recalled

James A. Webb Jr., a three-sport athlete at Vanderbilt University, prominent Nashville banker and an emeritus member of the Vanderbilt Board of Trust and the board of Vanderbilt Medical Center, died Jan. 8. He was 86.

“Jimmy Webb's extraordinary life was intertwined with Vanderbilt from the time Bear Bryant recruited him to play football here until his untimely death,” said Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. “Vanderbilt benefited enormously from his talents and counsel over several decades. He will be missed.”

Mr. Webb joined the Vanderbilt Board of Trust in 1984 and became a trustee emeritus in 2003.

“Jimmy Webb's many years on our board were spent making sure that the best decisions were made for Vanderbilt University Medical Center,” said Harry Jacobson, vice chancellor for Health Affairs. “He was forceful. He was fair. He spoke his mind. But underneath it all was a kind heart. He had one thing in mind in every decision he helped us make — the patients of Vanderbilt Medical Center. We will miss his leadership and his wisdom.”

A native of Birmingham, Ala., Mr. Webb was recruited by Bryant, then an assistant football coach at Vanderbilt before going on to a legendary career at Alabama.

Mr. Webb lettered in football, basketball and track at Vanderbilt. He graduated in 1947 with a degree in business administration.

Mr. Webb served in the Navy during World War II as an aviator. He began his banking career at Third National Bank, where he was vice chairman and executive vice president before moving to Nashville CityBank. There he was chairman and CEO through its sale to Dominion Bank. He retired in 1988.

Dominion endowed the James A. Webb Jr. Award for Excellence in Teaching at Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt. It is awarded annually to an outstanding Owen professor chosen by graduating students.

Mr. Webb was active in the community, playing leadership roles in the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Tennessee Division of the American Cancer society, the Nashville Better Business Bureau, the Nashville Downtown YMCA, the Nashville Boys Club, the Minority Economic Development Corporation and the Nashville City Club. He was a 32nd degree Mason and an elder at First Presbyterian Church.

Survivors include wife Caroline Bartlett Webb; daughter Allison Bass; sons Jimmy Webb III and Billy Webb; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be directed to the Vann Webb Scholarship at Montgomery Bell Academy or Vanderbilt Medical Center.