Charles E. Price

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Charles E. Price
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Born1943 (age 80–81)
Clinton, Tennessee
Alma materUnited States Air Force Academy
OccupationAmerican Businessman

Charles E. Price (born 1943 in Clinton, Tennessee) is an American businessman best known for his contributions to the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1990's.

Early life and education

Charles Edward Price was born in Clinton, Tennessee in 1943 to a mill worker, Clara Price (née Thorton), and army veteran turned auto-mechanic, Ben Price. He graduated with an Engineering degree from the United States Air Force Academy [1] in 1965[2], followed by an MBA in Management Theory from UCLA in 1967. His interest was in computer technologies and telecommunications, and was witness to the birth of many of the standards we use today.


Bell Systems

From 1967 through 1981, Price worked his way up the Bell System at Pacific Telephone, Bell Laboratories, and South Central Bell, designing and implementing multi-state data communications networks, managing data center operations, applications development, and technical services. During this time, he moved from San Francisco, CA to Summit, NJ to Vestavia, AL. His successful climb throughout Bell Systems garnered attention and he was recruited back to his home state of Tennessee by United American Bank.

United American Bank

In 1981, Price served as VP, COO of the data processing services subsidiary of United American Bank until its collapse in 1983, as part of the notorious Jake Butcher scandal. In his role, Price implemented a very early version of home banking through personal computers, and an integrated multi-state ATM network. The services organization performed all data processing work for over 40 affiliated banks and other financial institutions.

United American Bank was owned and run by Jake Butcher, a well known business man and politician who controlled 39% of the banking reserves in Knoxville, Tennessee. By 1982, UAB was responsible for over 50% of Knoxville's business loans and funded the 1982 World's Fair. The fair was considered a success and brought more than 11 million people to Knoxville over its six-month run; but, 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 and the day after the fair closed, 180 federal bank regulators from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation simultaneously raided all of the Jake Butcher and his brother, C.W.'s 29 bank branches and offices, thereby preventing transfers of funds to cover their tracks.[3] 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 U.S. history up to that time.[4] Jake Butcher pled guilty to bank fraud and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. [5] Jake Butcher and his brother were found to be acting alone, but hundred of Knoxville residents found themselves unemployed, and "the scruffy little city that did it" went from celebration to mourning. [6] The town was left in shock.

A Time to Recovery

As Knoxville was left recovering from the collapse of the 380 million dollar Butcher empire, Price had three daughters to provide for and no time to waste. He purchased various companies and worked from home while looking for his next opportunity. He went back to his telecommunications background and accepted a role at the predecessor to Sprint, United Telecommunication Company.

United Telecommunication

In 1984, Price worked under William Esray to help lead US Telecom through its merger with GTE Sprint notably becoming US Sprint Communications, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. [7] Price maintained this leadership role with the newly formed company as Vice President of Information Management during what would become US Sprints' most notable time of growth. Price headed all MIS functions, planning, development, and data resource management for all of Sprint; and, he was part of the core planning team responsible for the design and implementation of the nation wide fiber optic network developed to compete on quality with AT&T. In 1988, GTE sold more of Sprint to United Telecom, giving United Telecom operational control of the company. United Telecom announced it would complete its acquisition of US Sprint on April 18, 1990. Price's reputation as a "corporate fixer" was solid, and he was recruited to address another problem in his home state of Tennessee.

Tennessee Valley Authority

With enormous debts from its failing nuclear power program. A creation of the New Deal era, TVA had also been the Congressional dumping ground for a multitude of unrelated Federal programs and projects. TVA managed not only nuclear plants, but ran recreation facilities, tested electric cars, produced fertilizer, and even owned a herd of buffalo—in all, more than 186 separate business units. TVA's electric rates had skyrocketed in past years to pay for uncompleted nuclear plants, and high electric rates were threatening the region's economy. Price was recruited to TVA in 1990 to work under Marvin Runyon's renowned leadership as part of the team credited with saving TVA. As a surviving VP during "Carvin Marvins" drastic cust-cutting layoffs, where more than 7,000 employees were let go in one day alone [8], Price designed the corporate data network connecting all major facilities via wide area, campus, and local area networks. He reconfigured the technical computing environment to be able to achieve high avialibitly in support of the nuclear program and direct serve customers, and served as management bargaining team member in the first successful win-win negotiations with the Trades and Labor unions. Under his leadership, TVA became the most cost effective data center in the utilities industry, as measured by Real Decisions and Gartner Group. [9]. Price was part of the succession plan following Marvin Runyan's appointment as US Postmaster General in 1992, serving until his retirement in 1993.

Personal Life

Charles has been married to his high school sweetheart, Kay Price (née Loy) since 1965. They have three daughters: Jill Denise, Emily Kay, and Kate Marie; and 6 grandchildren: Charles Clayton, Grayson Shade, Ashley Kay, James Price, Rachel Louise, and Julie Clara. Charles and Kay Price, returned to their hometown of Clinton, Tennessee to care for aging parents in 2000 where they remain today. They serve on multiple councils and boards serving their city and church; prioritizing museum preservation and efforts to honor the Clinton 12's first integration of a public high school in the south, an event they were witness to and remember well.[10]


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