Jack Vaughn was born in Portland, OR, on November 1, 1937. He joined the Marine Corps at age 17, serving in the Vietnam conflict. In 1959, Vaughn began his 40+ year career in the hospitality industry as a key clerk at Westin's Hotel Benson in Portland. Working his way up through the ranks, Vaughn, in 1969, became the General Manager of the Continental Plaza in Chicago. He was then recruited by the iconic Century Plaza Hotel located in Los Angeles, CA, serving as its General Manager through 1975.
That year, before ground even broke, Vaughn was recruited by Gaylord Entertainment to serve as the first General Manager of the Opryland Hotel and Convention Center. Working out of a trailer and overseeing construction, "The House That Jack Built" went up under Vaughn's watchful vision, ultimately becoming the largest hotel and convention center in the world at one point in time.
An outspoken industry advocate for innovative convention space, Vaughn was named to the Convention Council's Hall of Leaders in 1988. Vaughn served in numerous positions with Gaylord Entertainment and its predecessor companies, including Vice President of WSM, Inc., Senior Vice President of Opryland USA, Inc., Vice President of Gaylord Entertainment Company, Chairman of Opryland Lodging Group, and President of Opryland Hospitality and Attractions Group, where he oversaw the Opryland Hotel, the prestigious 5-star Broadmoor Hotel and Resort, Opryland Theme Park, Opryland International Travel, the General Jackson Showboat, Opryland River Taxis, the Music City Queen, Grand Ole Opry Tours, the Springhouse Golf Club, KOA Campgrounds, and the Wildhorse Saloon. Vaughn was also instrumental in the concept and design of the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center located in Kissimmee, FL, and the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center located in Grapevine, TX.
Vaughn also held numerous prominent state and national positions, including membership on the Congressional Travel & Tourism Caucus Advisory Council, director of the American Hotel & Motel Association (AH&MA), President and Chairman of the Tennessee Hotel & Motel Association, and Honorary Trustee for Life of the American Hotel Foundation. Vaughn was also one of the first 100 people in the nation appointed as a delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Travel and Tourism.
Vaughn participated in many civic organizations, including President of the Middle Tennessee Boy Scouts of America, Executive Committee Member of the Nashville Rotary Club, Chairman of the Metropolitan Convention Center Commission, Director of Easter Seals Society of Tennessee, and as a member of countless other organizations.
Vaughn received International Exhibitors Association's Distinguished Service Award in 1986, and the AH&MA Lawson A. Odde Award in 1989. He was named Hotels Magazine's "Independent Hotelier of the World" In 1990. He also received the Resort Executive of the Year Award and the American Heart Association's Heart of the Community Award.
Vaughn's career and life's work was honored by the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1999 as dedicated to the Congressional Record, and was likewise honored by Resolution of the Tennessee State Senate. Upon retirement in 1999, by resolution of local government, a portion of Briley Parkway was renamed the "Jack Vaughn Parkway."
However, of all his many accomplishments, Vaughn's proudest, and what he considered greatest, achievement was his family, each and every one of whom will miss him beyond what any amount of words could ever hope to express.
Vaughn is preceded in death by his parents, Katherine and Jake Vaughn. He is survived by Ellie Vaughn, his wife of 32 years; sons, John Vaughn (Serena Lee), Curt Casassa (Julie Casassa) and Christopher Casassa (Kim Casassa); daughters, Debbie Kegney (Tom Kegney) and Connie Littrell (David Littrell); grandchildren, Ryan Casassa, Austin Casassa, Casey Duchesne, Beau Duchesne, Ellie Littrell, Calysta Ownby, Jaden Kegney, Isaiha Kegney, Jeshua Kegney, and Rhys Vaughn; and brothers, Edward Vaughn, Don Vaughn (Sherrie Vaughn) and Dick Vaughn.
On behalf of the entire Vaughn family, we wish to sincerely thank the hundreds of you who have taken the time to reach out, both directly and indirectly, and express your sympathies and condolences during this difficult time. We sincerely thank each and every one of you for the comfort your wonderful gestures have brought us.
Phillips-Robinson Funeral Home, family owned and operated since 1929, 615-262-3312.