Senator Rusty Crowe - 2013 Distinguished Alumnus in Public Service

Senator Rusty Crowe

Class of 1974

Affectionately referred to as "the Rock" by his fellow senators in Nashville and known as an elder statesman for politics in Tennessee, Senator Rusty Crowe was born in 1947 in Johnson City Tennessee. Sen. Crowe began his education in North Africa in a one-room French schoolhouse. After moving around the world with his family until his teen years, Crowe was sent home to attend Washington College Academy, our state's oldest school. After transferring to University School on the campus of ETSU in the early 60s, he graduated in 1965.

He entered ETSU and after two years of university life, volunteered to serve in the United States Army, serving in Southeast Asia from 1968 to 1971 intercepting coded messages from the enemy throughout the Vietnamese campaign. During this time, Senator Crowe received the Vietnamese Service Medal with two stars and the army commendation medal for his service.

Senator Crowe then returned to ETSU and graduated in 1974 with a B.S. in Criminal Justice and then from the Atlanta Law School with a Juris Doctor degree. After graduating from Law School, he worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation eventually returning to ETSU to begin working as an Administrator at ETSU for over twenty years and served as President of the ETSU Staff Senate.

In 1987, he was asked by then-newly elected Governor Ned McWherter to travel to Nashville to become a commissioner helping to run the Tennessee Department of Corrections. In 1990, Crowe won a seat in the Tennessee Senate, becoming the first Democrat elected from the 3rd Senate District in over 130 years. After consulting with Senator Howard Baker and with the help of his friend Congressman Jimmy Quillen, Senator Crowe changed political parties in 1995. Now serving as a Republican, he is the longest serving senator for the 3rd senatorial district.

During his 23 years in the Tennessee Senate, Senator Crowe has served the Northeast Tennessee counties of Hawkins, Washington, Carter, Johnson and Unicoi. He has served on the Judiciary, Education and Government Operations committees, as Chair of the Select Committee on Veterans Affairs, and currently as Chairman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

He was chosen in 1993 as legislator of the year by Tennessee's human resource agencies; the 1994 senator of the year by the 1st district Tennessee Christian Coalition; the 1995 legislator of the year by the Tennessee School Board Association; the 1997 and 2003 legislator of the year by the Tennessee Development Districts; the 2011 legislator of the year by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and for the 2011 legislator of the year Victory Award.

Senator Crowe attributes the privilege and his ability to serve the people of the 3rd senate district for all these years to his wife Sarah Barron, Ph.D., a graduate of the Quillen College of Medicine, his daughter Katie, a graduate of our ETSU College of Education and his son John, a freshman at Milligan College. Without their sacrifice and hard work at home, he could not have served us in Nashville.