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Roane State supporters from Oak Ridge honored as outstanding philanthropists

James and Patricia Wilson, award recipients, are pictured with Association of Fundrais- ing Professionals Great Smoky Mountain Chapter President Paul Bowman, Roane State Foundation Executive Director Scott Niermann, and Roane State President Chris Whaley.
An Oak Ridge couple honored on several occasions for their ongoing philanthropic efforts has received recognition once again for their generosity.

James Frank Wilson and Patricia Ann Wilson were honored by the Great Smoky Mountain Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals as the Outstanding Philanthropists of 2022 during a November luncheon in Knoxville attended by more than 250 people.

During the past two years alone, the Wilsons have provided more than 60 scholarships to Roane State Community College students in Morgan and Fentress counties.

Funds for those scholarships are derived from the $1.5 million James Frank and Patricia Ann Wilson Scholarship Endowment that is entrusted to the Roane State Foundation, the community college’s nonprofit fundraising entity.

Those grants are just the latest examples of what is described as the couple’s “unwavering support” since 2007 of Roane State and its students.

“There’s no question that the Wilsons’ impact on education will be permanently felt in Morgan County and beyond,” according to the application nominating the couple.

James Frank Wilson ran a successful law practice in Wartburg for more than 40 years. He organized Citizens First Bank and was its chairman from its inception in 1995 until its merger in 2019. Wilson is currently on the board of directors of the Roane State Foundation and serves on its executive, investment, and legacy committees.

Patricia Ann Wilson was a schoolteacher at Willow Brook Elementary in Oak Ridge for 12 years. The couple supports education at all levels of instruction, and they continue to add to their foundation endowment.

“We believe our contributions to Roane State students give us the greatest return from our giving, and create the greatest benefit to others,” James Wilson said.

“We think the return on our investment in student education is several orders of magnitude more than our initial contribution. We’ve done this without any hesitation and without being asked. The students here are wonderful; they just need some help.”

In 2016, Wilson helped spearhead the launch of a fundraising drive for scholarships for Roane State students on the Morgan County campus.

The Great Smoky Mountain chapter of AFP has been recognizing National Philanthropy Day since 1989.

Roane State Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation that seeks to enhance community awareness of the college, to secure private contributions and bequests, and to manage monies or properties given to the foundation, including an approximately $12 million endowment.

Roane State Foundation supports the college with capital projects, equipment, educational programs and scholarships.

For more information or to make a gift to support Roane State students, visit, email, or call 865-882-4507.