The line of friends wanting to show their respects to the family of Joe Ingram started an hour before the appointed time and wound around inside Smith Mortuary in a final tribute to the longtime Blount County businessman and community leader who died on Saturday, Aug. 27.
Mr. Ingram, who battled cancer for many years, was memorialized on Tuesday with a family burial on Wednesday.
Mr. Ingram, 62, with Ingram, Overholt and Bean, was a certified public accountant for 40 years and was involved with United Way, the Blount Memorial Hospital Foundation, the Blount Chamber Partnership, Kiwanis Club, the Boy Scouts, the Gideons and at Broadway Baptist Church. He was a 1966 graduate of Alcoa High School and a 1970 graduate of the University of Tennessee.
Mr. Ingram’s daughter, Jennifer Wackerhagen, said her dad fought cancer for 18 years.
“He’s been battling cancer and been sick a long time, but to look at him, sometimes you would never know it. He always kept working and always had a good, positive attitude,” Wackerhagen said.
Wackerhagen said she and her dad were very close. “These last couple of days, I’ve seen him struggle and be in pain. Now I know he’s not suffering. Even though my heart is hurting, I know he’s not in pain anymore,” she said.
Wackerhagen said she and her family appreciate the well-wishes from friends and colleagues. “Everybody loved him so much. He was my hero, and I’ve always looked up to him,” she said.
Wackerhagen said her dad was very involved in helping others in the community.
“He gave back so much, and I’m not just saying this because he was my dad. He was so generous to the community and to people.”
Lawyer Steve Greene knew Mr. Ingram for 30 years and served with him on the United Way of Blount County board when they hired the first executive director.
“It was his drive to better the community and to try to help others. He was a great guy,” Greene said. “You’ll never be able to go anywhere and find anyone who would say a bad word about him.”
Rick Shepard, president of United Community Bank in Blount County, said he knew Mr. Ingram for 25 years.
“If Joe was involved with something, people would get involved with it as well, because they admired and trusted him so well,” he said. “He was a great guy, a good friend, a good mentor, and he’ll be sadly missed.”
His business partner Lonas Overholt said he met Ingram in 1968 when each of them were students in the accounting program at the University of Tennessee. “We started work at Gillespie and Sherrod in 1970, and I had the pleasure of working with Joe for 41 years continuously,” he said. “During that time, we never had a cross word for each other. It was a wonderful relationship, and one I will never forget.”
Overholt said Ingram was a strong leader. “I was proud to be associated with him. We complimented each other,” he said. “Our careers were better for both of us for having known each other.”
Overholt said Ingram’s impact on the community is complete. He was the 2000 United Way of Blount County campaign chair and served in the Blount County Chamber Board. “He did just about anything anyone could do as far as civic leadership. He organized and was a member of the boards that assisted the community in so many different ways. I couldn’t list them all,” he said. “He was busy all the time and was very active and had a very positive impact on this community, which is going to last for a long time.”
Steven Daves has worked for Ingram and Overholt at Ingram, Overholt and Bean in Alcoa for nine years. “He was a great person to work for. He was very easy to communicate with and was always very interested in everyone’s professional and personal life,” Daves said. “Family was very important to him and that was evident in the workplace. He always strongly encouraged community involvement, which helped me get involved in lot of things I may not have been involved with if not for him and his encouragement and his example.”
Daves said Ingram was a very strong mentor. “He was someone I looked up to in this profession, and he was a great example of integrity,” Daves said.
For fun, Mr. Ingram was an avid runner and ran in many races until his illness prevented it. He loved NASCAR and had been to every NASCAR track, completing his list with the newest track, the Kentucky Speedway, which opened in 2000.
Mr. Ingram is survived by his wife of 40 years, Teresa Sullivan Ingram and daughters, Jennifer Ingram Wacherhagen and husband Jason; and Meredith Ingram Rigsby and husband Joshua. Mr. Ingram had one granddaughter, Taylor Jo Wackerhagen. He is also survived by his brother, Dr. John J. Ingram III and wife Patricia; aunts, Christine Clark and husband Harold and Sue Hedrick and husband Ed; father and mother-in-law, Ralph and Betty Sullivan and brother and sister-in-law, Steve and Janet Sullivan.
For donations, the family has suggested Broadway Baptist Church Building Fund at 2329 E. Broadway Ave., Maryville, TN 37804; Gideons International or the United Way of Blount County 2011 Campaign at 1615 E. Broadway Ave., Maryville, TN 37804.