KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Chamber honored longtime Kingsport business executive and community leader Tony Hewitt with its prestigious Lifetime Member Award during its State of Your Kingsport Chamber Holiday Breakfast Friday morning.
Hewitt passed away Oct. 21 at the age of 73 with his family by his side.
The award’s 36th honoree, Hewitt was given the distinction posthumously, with his wife, Jackie, and daughter, Lucy, accepting the award.
Due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19, the event was held virtually.
“Everyone loved, admired and respected Tony Hewitt,” said Eric Deaton, Kingsport Chamber chair and executive vice president and chief operating officer with Ballad Health. “He served his company and this community with great devotion and distinction. He was always so quick to get involved and volunteer and always did so with grace, compassion and humility. He continuously had a smile on his face, and he was just someone who everyone loved to be around. We are so proud to honor his memory with this most-deserved accolade.”
“A first-class gentleman, true servant leader and genuine friend to all who knew him, Tony Hewitt was the epitome of class and dignity,” said Miles Burdine, Kingsport Chamber president and CEO. “He was always gracious and generous and approached life with a positive and happy attitude, which we all should emulate. He was incredibly kind and giving and was always the first person to volunteer or offer help or support. This community misses Tony Hewitt, but we are all the better for having known him.”
The Kingsport Chamber Lifetime Member Award goes to an individual who has made an enormous contribution to the Kingsport Chamber and the community throughout his or her lifetime.
About Tony Hewitt
Hewitt was born on Christmas Eve in 1946 to Frank and Lucy Hewitt. He was raised in Hove, Sussex, England, where he was educated and received a degree in engineering.
For a number of years, he served as a manager and draughtsman/surveyor with Wm Press, a construction company that managed the installation of pipeline for North Sea Gas in northern England. In 1971, he joined John Laing Construction and then, in 1974, worked for ICI at Redcar. He later worked for Mobil Oil Refinery in southeastern England.
In 1998, Hewitt and his family moved to Kingsport, and he assumed the director of economic development position with BAE Systems. He retired from the company in 2017 as its director of commercial development and community relations.
Hewitt was heavily involved in the community, serving in a number of volunteer capacities. Some of the organizations in which he served and held leadership roles included: Kingsport Chamber, Downtown Kingsport Association, Fun Fest, Leadership Kingsport, United Way of Greater Kingsport, Habitat for Humanity, and American Red Cross, among others.
He served as Kingsport Chamber president in 2007.
The Hewitts loved Kingsport and the United States so much they became official U.S. citizens in 2011.
Beyond his professional accomplishments and community involvement, Hewitt had many hobbies, including skiing, bowling, mountain biking, fly fishing, golf, and, especially, racing. He was a car enthusiast and owned many different kinds over the years.
Hewitt’s true love and heart was his family, with whom he spent most of his time. Left to cherish his memory are his wife, Jackie, Kingsport; daughter, Lucy, Savannah, Georgia; daughters, Emma Flock (Dave), Norwich, England; Beth Hall (James), Reepham, Norfolk, England; granddaughters, Erin and Evie Flock and Molly and Ruby; and a host of friends in Kingsport and England.
Emma fondly remembers riding on her dad’s back, pretending he was a horse named Dobbin. At a young age, he also introduced his girls to Formula One racing back in the days of Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell and often took the girls to practice days at Brands Hatch.
Hewitt was an impeccable dresser, and Emma admitted it was her father’s sense of style that inspired her love for clothes and fashion. “Dad had good taste and always liked to look his best,” Emma reminisced, and added, “he always smelt of nice aftershave.”
When daughter Lucy wanted to take up horseback riding as a teen, Hewitt quickly jumped on the chance to learn too. It must have been all those years of being a horse named Dobbin for Emma that led him to join Lucy in the saddle.
All through his life, though, Hewitt’s greatest love was cars and racing. His love for Formula One racing remained true to the end. In his final days, Hewitt still enthusiastically set his alarm clock early so he could get up and watch events on TV.
Emma remarked about her dad’s determination in the face of cancer. “In the last few years of his diagnosis, he amazed me with his strength, determination and positivity. Whenever we would FaceTime, he was always upbeat with a smile on his face.”
The Hewitts are members of Christ Fellowship Church in Kingsport.
“Tony was immensely proud of his family and they were always first in his life,” Burdine added. “Yes, he had a most impressive career and was a true servant leader, but the joy of his life, what he cherished the most and where he spent all of his time, was his family. He loved them and his friends beyond measure and it truly showed in the way he joyfully lived his life. And that will be what he is remembered for the most.”