Philanthropist Bob Jepson of Savannah Receives The Blanchard Award for Business Ethics and Leadership

A visionary entrepreneur and exemplary leader, with modest beginnings in Richmond, Va.  

COLUMBUS, Ga., Aug. 26 – Robert Scott Jepson Jr. of Savannah, Ga., was honored Monday evening as a successful entrepreneur and generous humanitarian who has become a model of ethical business success.

Jepson was presented with the Blanchard Award for Business and Ethical Leadership before an audience of about 1,000 Georgia business, political and military leaders attending the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum, an annual event by Columbus State University’s Leadership Institute. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and American Astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly were in attendance as keynote speakers for this year’s forum in Columbus.

The award was created by a group of Georgia leaders in 2009, following their concern about ethical lapses in business that contributed to the 2008 economic crash. W. Todd Groce, president of the Georgia Historical Society, made the presentation to Jepson Monday on behalf of the panel of judges drawn from cities across the state. 

Previous winners have been B. Franklin Skinner of Atlanta, president of BellSouth Telecommunications; the late Ray C. Anderson of Atlanta, founder of Interface, the sustainability textiles company; and William B. Turner of Columbus, philanthropist, author and former chief executive officer of W.C. Bradley Co. The award is named for James H. Blanchard of Columbus, retired Chief Executive Officer of Synovus. Blanchard received the inaugural award before the judges decided to name it for him. 

Jepson, the 2013 honoree, is chief executive officer of Jepson Associates Inc., a private investment firm founded in 1989. He is the former head of the Jepson Corp., a Fortune 500 diversified manufacturing conglomerate, listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). He sold the company in 1989.

As a boy, Jepson said he was never dirt poor, but does recall being hungry, skipping meals as he grew up in the care of his mother and grandmother in the Fan, a now-fashionable neighborhood of row houses in Richmond, Va.

“Hunger is a great motivator,” he says.

Jepson is now chairman of the Georgia Ports Authority and currently serves as vice chairman of the Board of the Georgia Historical Society. “There is nothing in Georgia that I could do that is more important than the work I’ve done on this board,” Jepson said of his experience with the authority.

He has established a reputation as an admired philanthropist. After he sold the Jepson Corp., he resolved to spend the rest of his life engaged in philanthropy, especially that which benefits education.

Jepson and his wife of 49 years, Alice, have been giving their money, time and creativity to schools and other educational programs for more than 30 years. Beneficiaries have included schools such as Bethesda Academy for boys in Savannah and the Savannah College of Art and Design. They have contributed to the Savannah community through the development of the Jepson Center at the Telfair Museum in the historic heart of the city.

The Jepsons also funded the creation of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, which opened in 1992 at the University of Richmond, his alma mater.

“It’s what you do with your resources for the rest of the world, for others, that really lasts, and all of that business success created some wonderful opportunities for me to support the things that really matter to me,” Mr. Jepson said.

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