Family: Married to Roger Jennings; one son, Ben Stone, 21, Maryville, and two step-children, Kevin Chad Jennings, 35, and Tiffany O’Connor, 32, both of Maryville.
Occupation: Vice president of BB&T in Maryville.
Live life to the fullest with no regrets and be fully committed to whatever you are doing. That’s the attitude Regina Jennings carried with her when she enlisted in the Air National Guard in 1987, and that is the mindset she has as she became president of the Kiwanis Club of Maryville on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Jennings said she always had a desire to serve her country, and she finally got to the point where she didn’t want to ignore that desire anymore. “My theory is that you live life to the fullest every day,” said Jennings. “I don’t want to live in regret. I didn’t want to be 48 and have regrets that I didn’t serve my country, so I joined,” she says. “Fred Forster swore me in, and I’ll never forget it.”
For the nine-plus years she was a part of the Guard, Jennings filled in for soldiers who were deployed, doing a variety of jobs.
“It is a family all its own,” she says of those who work at the airbase. “Those friends have a common bond; it is what keeps people continually committed to a cause.”
Jennings grew up in Blount County and graduated from Heritage High School, then earning an associates degree from Pellissippi State Community College. She started her career as a part-time teller at CBBC.
“After getting my degree from Tusculum College, BB&T came in town in June of 2001,” she says. “It was hard to leave CBBC, but it was a decision I had to make. I’ve been here 10 years, but I’ve been a banker 26 years.”
Her extended family now also includes the members of the Maryville Kiwanis, many of whom she first met at the airbase. Jennings says the membership of the Kiwanis Club of Maryville has grown by almost 30 in the past year under outgoing president Robert Russell. One of her goals as new president is to continue that growth, she says.
One Maryville Kiwanis initiative Jennings is excited about is the BUG (Bringing Up Grades) program that the Kiwanis Club does at Foothills Elementary School. “These children may not be the star athletes, but they are given a chance to shine in the classroom. If they had a C and bring it up to a B, then we make a big deal about it, and have a pizza party and give them a certificate,” she says. “Building self-esteem in children is important. It does take a village to raise a child, and Kiwanis Club is a part of that village.”
Jennings and her husband rode the same church bus when they were children. Years later when they reconnected, they had both been through previous marriages and had their own careers and family. “I hadn’t seen him in a long time, and we started talking. He asked me out three times before I went because I was always so busy. We started dating in January of 1992 and got married on April 9, 1992, and we’ve been married 20 years.”
Here is Regina Jennings:
What is your favorite quote from television or a movie?
“In the movie ‘The Help,’ when Abilene says to a child, ‘You is kind, you is smart, you is important.’”
What are you guilty of?
“Not saying ‘No,’ which gets me involved in too many activities. Trying to do 100 percent in each one gets a little tiring.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“ My grandmother’s 1956 Chevrolet BelAir that my friend Steve Deck and I restored. My grandmother is now 93, and every time I drive it, I take it by her house so she can see it. She loves that car. We both have a lot of memories with that car.”
What are you reading currently?
“I am in a ladies monthly Bible study, and we are currently reading ‘Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free.’ And I just bought a book written by Tessa Gaines, a high school friend: ‘Don’t Stop at the Gate.’”
What was your most embarrassing moment?
“When my husband picked me up at church on my 40th birthday in a hearse and drove me to O’Charley’s in it.”
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
“I like to travel. Two places I want to go are Alaska and Hawaii. I wouldn’t mind visiting Australia, too.”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“I have been working on trying not to worry so much, to ‘let go and let God.’ Sometimes the human side of me takes over, and I worry. Just have to keep trying.”
What is your passion?
“My passion is church, family, friends and work.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“My grandfathers, Virgil Tindell and Amos Cantrell. Virgil was killed in November of 1978 in a car wreck. Amos Cantrell died of a heart attack unexpectedly. I had just found out I was expecting and called and told him before I left for a two-week leadership class for the military in Biloxi, Miss. He died the first week I was there.”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“I would visit the 1950s. I love the music, the poodle skirts and the simplistic daily living.”
What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“Besides my wedding rings, it would be my Cannon Rebel camera that Roger gave me for Christmas.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“To always dress modestly since I was a Christian, and that ‘In order to have friends, you have to be a friend.’”
Other than your parents, who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?
“My husband and son. Roger taught me to be more of a giver, and with my son, Ben, I learned patience, understanding and to look at other points of view.”
What’s the worst job you have ever had?
“When my husband thought we could run a paper route seven days a week. I would get up at 2 a.m., and go get papers, deliver them, get back home by 5 a.m., and then try and sleep until 6:30. Then I would get up, get Ben to school and go to the bank and work all day. I think I was a zombie during that time.”
What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon and why?
What irritates you?
“Complacency, people not wanting to better themselves, their environment or their lives.”
What’s one place in Blount County everyone should visit?
“Everyone should visit and walk the Greenbelt - the whole thing.”
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself at 18?
“To finish my degree and join the Air Force full time as an officer and retire when I became 40 and then start a new career. However, I have had a good life and everything I have done has shaped me to be who I am today. It has been good.”
What is your greatest fear?
“Anything happening to my immediate family or extended family.”
I still can’t quite get the hang of…
“The i-Phone my husband gave me and insisted I needed.”