Philip 'Phil' Hartley Trenary
Philip 'Phil' Hartley Trenary, whose life took him from a small Oklahoma town to a pinnacle of aviation entrepreneurship and ultimately to become president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber, died Thursday, September 27, 2018 at Regional One Health in Memphis. He was 64 years young. Born in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, on August 1, 1954, to May Ruth and Buck Trenary, he was a proud Oklahoma State University Cowboy, graduating with a bachelor of applied science degree in aeronautical engineer technology in 1979 and with an abiding love for aviation. At OSU, he was instrumental in the founding of the Flying Aggies, the first collegiate aerobatics program and the top team of its kind in the country for four consecutive years. Five years later, he founded Exec Express Airlines in Stillwater, Oklahoma, before moving it to Fort Worth, Texas, in 1987, where it continued its domestic and international flights under the name, Lone Star Airlines. He moved to Memphis in 1997 and began a love affair with a city that embraced him as he became president and CEO of Pinnacle Airlines Corp., growing it from a small regional air carrier with $75 million in revenues to one of the largest regional airlines in the United States with more than $1.2 billion in annual revenues and 7,700 employees. After leaving the company in 2011, he remained in his adopted city as principal of Phil Trenary & Associates, where he specialized in airline consulting and large institutional restructuring. In addition, he advised clients that included Emerge Memphis, Shelby Farms Park, and University of Memphis. In June 2014, he was named president & CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber, where he was known for his collaborative approach and his boundless advocacy for Memphis. He led the Chamber to adopt the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty and attracting better jobs to our community; he guided the launch of the Greater Memphis Chamber's Chairman's Circle, a group of more than 100 business leaders committed to transformative change; he worked to bring and retain workers in downtown Memphis, notably with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and ServiceMaster; he actively represented Memphis' interests in the Tennessee and U.S. capitals; and he especially liked working and mentoring millennials to take their place as leaders for Memphis. He lived his life with a smile on his face and acted every day on his guiding principles: "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone for nothing in return" and "Do what you love." That love manifested itself in a buoyant and deep relationship with Memphis, which he loved for its people, its music, its tenacity, and most of all, as a city where everyone is given an opportunity to make a difference. For him, it was more than just his Chamber job; it was in fact his calling. Said Barbara and Pitt Hyde: "Phil was our go-to person as a friend and as a partner working for an equitable and thriving Memphis. He personified love for his friends, love for his family, and love for his city, and translated that love into action." He displayed that same spirit, optimism, empathy, and core values with his family, which carries his memories in their hearts as inspiration for the days ahead. He is survived by his former wife, Bridget Trenary of Memphis; his sons, Justin Rogers of Houston and Pearce Trenary of Dallas; his daughter, Brittney (Schaefer) Rowe of Memphis; his grandchildren, Lawson Rowe, and Jackson Myers, Justin Rogers' son; his brother, Frank (Connie) Trenary of Edmond, Oklahoma, and his sister-in-law, Linda Trenary, widow of his brother, Lloyd Trenary. Phil's parents predeceased him. He was involved in numerous Memphis charitable and civic organizations and served on the boards of New Memphis Institute, Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau, Memphis Tomorrow, Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce, and St. George's Independent School. He served as past chairman of the Regional Airline Association and was a member of the Management Advisory Council for the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration Administrator. He was a member of Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Memphis and also regularly attended Greater White Stone Missionary Baptist Church in South Memphis. His family greatly appreciates the outpouring of love and sympathy from Phil's many friends during these difficult days, and together, we best honor his memory by keeping his optimism for Memphis burning bright.
Visitation will begin at noon followed by service at 2 p.m., Thursday, October 4, 2018, at Christ United Methodist Church, Seabrook Hall, 4488 Poplar Avenue, Memphis. In lieu of flowers, his family requests contributions to the Phil Trenary Fund for the Advancement of Memphis at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis.