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Bunny Oakes

Boys & Girls Clubs in Tennessee        2010 Hall of Fame Inductee

R. L. “Bunny” Oakes, III

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley • Knoxville, Tennseessee


     Girls Club organization, which serves four East Tennessee counties, but extends   throughout the state.  Mr. Oakes is arguably one of the most passionate Boys & Girls Clubs volunteers and does not hesitate to share his sincere feelings about the organization with others.  Bunny’s heartfelt testimony brings about his own tears, as well as those of his audience, more often than not.  Bunny has served as President of the Tennessee         Alliance and has personally visited every Boys & Girls Club organization in Tennessee.  He often speaks on behalf of Boys & Girls Clubs to boards, government officials and civic clubs across the state, and he recently conducted a presentation at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Alliance Summit entitled “Motivating Your Board to Action.” He helped to secure over 2.5 million dollars for BGC children across the state.  He was instrumental in establishing the 501(c)(3) community based organization to help BGC in Tennessee secure private funding for the lifesaving          programs offered.

      The commitment and passion demonstrated by Boys & Girls Club volunteer R. L. “Bunny” Oakes, III for the past quarter century has led to improved conditions in Clubs and enhanced services to members, directly impacting the quality of lives of the children in our communities.  As the chairman of his Civitan Club’s annual Fun Day event at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley over two decades ago, Bunny was inspired by the impact the event had on the then 500 members who participated.  This year, over 1,000 boys and girls will enjoy the 64th annual event    emceed by none other than Bunny Oakes.  Bunny’s true love for others is also shared with his wife, Lisa, and their three children and grandchild.  He values the importance of family and humbly accepts his role as a community   member fortunate enough to possess the capacity to give, and he does so generously.  He financially supports Clubs across the state and recently sponsored the Legislative Reception held in Nashville in association with the Youth of the Year Celebration. 

      Mr. Oakes’s legacy began when he started volunteering with the Boys & Girls Clubs in 1983.  His volunteer time over the past 27 years includes committee meetings, special events and fundraisers, board meetings, conferences, calling on donors, and spending time with the kids.  While completely devoted to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the    Tennessee Valley as a corporate board member and immediate past chairman of the board development committee, Bunny continues to advocate for the Boys & Girls Clubs throughout the community and state. 

     In addition to all he does for the Boys & Girls Clubs, Bunny raises money for the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts.  He is currently State Membership Chairperson for the Tennessee Association of Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors, and is also a State Board Member.  He is past president of Insurors of Tennessee, is on the board of Associated General Contractors, and chairs the Social Committee.  Additionally, Bunny helped to raise money and awareness for a friend regarding a Peru Mission where they hire men who do not have jobs and provide training,   technically, personally and spiritually, empowering them to lead their families and serve their communities and churches.  If only every organization were to be so lucky as to have a Bunny Oakes.  Bunny is relied on for his enthusiasm, his dependability, and his dedication to the Boys & Girls Club Movement.  He has endless resources, energy, and love for his community that inspires everyone with whom he comes in contact. 

    Bunny is a well respected member of the community and has influenced his friends, business associates, and family members to secure substantial support the Boys & Girls Clubs.  As a member of Leadership Knoxville and the Civitan Club, Bunny has encouraged civic engagement among these groups as an advocate of the Boys & Girls Clubs.  He has even inspired his son to join a fundraising committee,  continuing a family tradition of civic responsibility.  As one of four principals/owners of TIS Insurance Services, Bunny began the annual tradition of his company sponsoring one or more families served by the Boys & Girls Clubs at Christmas.  His company is also a generous sponsor of several special events for the Boys & Girls Clubs, including two local golf tournaments and the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame.  Bunny has been personally responsible for securing at least 50 sponsors for the annual Phillip Fulmer Golf Classic, formerly the D.D. Lewis Golf Tournament.  In 1996, Bunny served as  Co-Chairman of our Capital Campaign and raised over $6 million.  His personal contribution was a substantial    reason for the campaign’s success.  Bunny was also the Steering Committee Chairman and solicited donors for the most recent Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley Capital Campaign. 

      Bunny Oakes was the 1997 recipient of the Great Smoky Mountains Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professional’s Outstanding Civic Leader Award.  He also received the Tennessee Association of Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Contractors Associate Member of the Year Award for 2001 and the Boys & Girls Clubs Tennessee Area Council Outstanding Achievement Award for Board Member of the Year in 2004.  Bunny’s       rewards not only come in the form of recognition, but also in relationships.  Bunny mentored a Boys & Girls Clubs Teen Center member with whom he has developed a strong bond.  And, it is not uncommon for Bunny to host Boys & Girls Club members at his lakefront home for afternoons of healthy recreation that provide a safe alternative to life on the streets.  As a graduate of a local high school and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Bunny serves as a role model for members of the Clubs.  Every year, Bunny speaks to Boys & Girls Clubs members at Career Week, and his influence and inspiration are immeasurable. 

      Bunny’s name is synonymous with integrity, generosity, passion, enthusiasm, and hard work.  As President of the Construction Division of TIS Insurance Services in Knoxville, Bunny is so driven that he doesn’t hesitate to arrive at the office at 5:30 a.m. during the week and work weekends when necessary. The first thing Bunny does each morning, after working out, is record an enthusiastic message that welcomes callers with a heartfelt, optimistic, and appreciative greeting.  Bunny’s willingness to devote time to charities on top of his demanding work schedule is awe-inspiring and a challenge he deems worthy of overcoming.