From O.V., Autry and so on, you can call Pete DeBusk a lot of things. Just this week he added a new title to his repertoire which already includes: chairman, CEO, president, founder, entrepreneur, inventor, innovator, trustee, commissioner, son, father, friend, donor, supporter, husband, grandfather and philanthropist. His newest synonym: Health Care Hero.
On Thursday, LMU’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees was honored with the Greater Knoxville Business Journal’s Health Care Hero award for lifetime achievement. During a luncheon at Knoxville’s Foundry, Greater Knoxville Business Journal Publisher/Editor Amy Nolan honored six individuals and one group of religious women for their contributions to health care in the region. DeBusk was recognized for his work at DeRoyal and the legacy he is creating at LMU. In her introduction of DeBusk, Nolan noted that she expected graduates from the programs that DeBusk had a hand in creating would be recipients in the future.
Besides recognition at the luncheon, DeBusk was also featured in the pages of the September issue of the Greater Knoxville Business Journal. In the profile, DeBusk expresses the joy he finds in leaving his legacy through LMU. In his acceptance speech he noted he was not done yet.
I accompanied photographer Leslie Karnowski while she was capturing images of DeBusk for the feature. Over the nearly three and a half hour shoot, I really got to see the joy that LMU brings to DeBusk. Karnowski later confessed to me that she was often sent on shoots where editors had deemed the subject to be difficult or uncooperative. She said that no one had expressly told her that would be the case with DeBusk, but she was surprised at how enthusiastic he was about the shoot. I told her she had two things working in her favor.
1–She was new to LMU and had never stepped foot on our campus before. From six years of working at LMU and with DeBusk on many projects, the one thing that rings true about him is how proud he is of the progress his alma mater has made in the last decade. And he is eager to introduce people to LMU and that progress.
2—She was allowing him to play in the dirt, something that he adores. DeBusk remarked once that LMU’s master plan was laid out in dirt more so than on paper and he has often eluded to the site preparation work in progress right now as his way of controlling things from beyond the grave. He told Karnowski how he was much more comfortable in his “work clothes” than his business suits and how much he enjoyed mixing it up with the work crews. In his acceptance speech he acknowledged the same things.