Civility Program Speaker: Don Sundquist - Articles

All Content

Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Feb 5, 2013

Former Governor of Tennessee

Donald K. Sundquist was born in Moline, Illinois in March 1936. He received a bachelor's degree from Augustana College in 1957 and served in the U.S. Navy for two years until 1959. He has an extensive business background, including management and corporate positions at Josten's, a company that makes college rings. He also started his own printing and advertising firm in Memphis and was a cofounder of the first Red, Hot and Blue barbeque restaurant.

Sundquist was involved in the Shelby County Republican Party and eventually became its chairman from 1976 to 1979. He also managed the presidential campaign of Sen. Howard Baker Jr. in 1979.

His first elected position was in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served six terms representing the 7th District from 1983 to 1995. During this time he earned a reputation for being a fiscal conservative.

Sundquist was elected 47th governor of Tennessee in November 1994 and took office in January 1995. He was reelected in 1998 by a record margin and served until 2003. During his tenure, Sundquist promoted ideas such as compassionate welfare reform legislation, stricter law enforcement measures and prudence in government expenditures. On his watch, the Families First welfare reform program reduced the number of families on welfare from 70,000 to 30,000; Tennessee became the first state in the nation to offer universal health insurance; and through the ConnecTen project, Tennessee became the first state to connect all of its public schools and libraries to the Internet. Governor Sundquist led Tennessee through seven years of successful economic development, topping $6 billion in capital investment in 1999 and garnering "State of the Year" honors for outstanding job creation and investment efforts.

Adapted from the National Governors Association and the Baker Center websites.

Former Gov. Don Sundquist


Additional Information

Return to the Knoxville event page

Learn more about the TBA's civility initiative