Jim Gaines (Middle Tennessee State '69)
As a loyal donor for the past 50 years, Jim Gaines is no stranger to supporting the SAE Foundation. He is an Amethyst Level donor ($50,000-74,999) of the Founders' Circle, a giving society for individuals with over $5,000 in lifetime giving. A 2021-2022 Herald Level donor, recognizing annual donations between $1,000-2,499 to the Annual Loyalty Fund. A member of the Phoenix Circle for recurring donors. And now, a member of the Heritage Society, which honors donors who include SAE in their estate plans.
As an undergraduate, Jim was the President of Lambda Psi, the local interest group which later became the Tennessee Beta chapter at Middle Tennessee State. Once when asked to share a favorite SAE memory, Jim reflected upon Lambda Psi's chartering process with SAE in the 1960s. He described the intense and challenging petitioning process, including several visits from the Fraternity Service Center and 100% approval of the other chapters in the province.
In the summer of 1969, his chapter sent eight brothers to the National Convention in San Francisco, where the delegation approved their charter. Jim says this three-year period taught him many things that carried over into his professional life.
Following graduation, Jim began working in management for a large Fortune 500 company. He stayed with the company for seven years before starting his marketing agency. He also worked with ten business partners and started a franchise marketing firm that spread to 35 cities throughout the United States.
Just before graduating from Middle Tennessee State, Jim had a conversation with Past Eminent Supreme Recorder Jack Hotaling (Syracuse '53). At a lunch in 1969, Jim said to Jack, "I'm graduating in two weeks. What would be some advice you could give to me?" Jack responded, "Jim, always remember that fraternity is for life. Another way of putting that is, SAE is for life."
Recently, Jim made arrangements to leave a bequest to the SAE Foundation, which will establish a scholarship fund. The James Emery Gaines Leadership Fund will support educational and leadership initiatives and provide scholarships to deserving students.
Jim firmly believes in the importance of scholarships and leadership. These are the reasons he has always been an avid supporter of the SAE Foundation. As an undergraduate, Jim did not have access to many scholarships and therefore had to work his way through school.
"We have young brothers that want to go to medical school, they want to go to law school, they want to get their Ph.D., but they don't come from wealthy families. Any help that any of us alumni can do to help them, I'm all for it. I've gotten notes and phone calls from some of these young brothers, and it's really heartwarming."
Additionally, Jim believes that our country needs good leaders and therefore wants to support the Fraternity's educational initiatives, allowing undergraduate students to attend educational events.
He says, "The leadership that I learned was from the Fraternity because we had to set up a chapter on our own."
Jim believes being an SAE is one of the best things that has happened to him and that alumni should give back. The idea of membership for life has stuck with him throughout the years, so it is no wonder he has chosen to leave a legacy gift to the SAE Foundation. The Foundation is grateful to Jim for his generosity and support throughout the years and is honored to be entrusted with the James Emery Gaines Leadership Fund.
For more information about the SAE Foundation, please visit sae.net/foundation.