Former County Commissioner Richard Casavant has died at 77 in Atlanta.
He was born on June 23, 1942, in Athens, Tennessee, to the late Albert Richard “Cas” Casavant and Nancye Ewing Casavant. He was a 1960 graduate of Chattanooga City High, but he switched his focus to business and education, receiving a B.A. in Economics from Emory University in 1964, an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1966, and a Ph.D. in Marketing from Georgia State University in 1976.
With his various degrees, he often self-deprecatingly said that he was educated beyond his intelligence. Following his graduation from Wharton, he served in the United States Air Force, Medical Service Corps, as a 1st Lieutenant and Medical Supply Officer from 1966-1969.
In 1976, he began a 30-plus year teaching career at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, first as an Associate Professor of Marketing, ultimately becoming the Alan Lorberbaum Professor of Marketing, Director of the UTC Family Business Center, and the John Staigmaier Chair and Dean of the College of Business, retiring as Dean in 2010. During his tenure at UTC, he fostered and promoted the concept of individual entrepreneurship, creating a distinct curriculum and innovative programs, resulting in UTC becoming one of the first fifty colleges in the United States to have such a curriculum.
He served on the Signal Mountain Town Council for six years, and then served three four-year terms as a Commissioner on the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners (1998-2010, serving as chairman in 2002-2003.
He "passionately advocated that quality education was available to all, and he dedicated the majority of his years in public service to establishing a public middle/high school for the citizens of his community in Signal Mountain."
One of his proudest achievements was the opening of Signal Mountain Middle-High School in 2008. For all his efforts in furtherance of the school, he was honored in 2015 with the opening of the Richard Casavant Media and Enrichment Center, although he dryly noted that the creative genes in the Casavant family primarily resided in his two sons, his father, and his siblings, since he “could barely play the radio”.