Clara Dean Owenby, known to everyone as Dean, recently opened AAC Tax Service in Tracy City. She has prepared taxes for many years, most recently with Rip Hampton. Dean sat down with the Herald to tell us a little about her life and her passion.
Dean is originally from Ashville, NC, and moved with her husband Harold to the mountain in 1978.
“Harold and I have been married for 57 years. In 1972, he was transferred to Tennessee with his work for TVA. In 1978, we moved to the mountain, settling in White City.”
Dean’s experience with tax preparation began in 1972 when she worked for H&R Block. Over the years, she held other jobs, but continued to do tax returns for her friends and family.
“I studied Business Administration at North Carolina State University, but I left before graduating to raise my family. When we moved to the mountain, I took a job at the shirt factory, and then moved on to manage a plant in Trenton, Georgia. I also worked at the Farm Bureau for one year. However, while I was working at the plant in Trenton, my father was killed in an accident and I felt I should work closer to home – to be with my mother and my family when they needed me.
“I went to work for Rip Hampton, preparing taxes, and was there for 20 years. I love Rip and enjoyed working with him. ”
When Rip retired, Dean decided to open her own tax office in Tracy City.
“I have an office in my home, but opening an office in Tracy City allows my clients to get to me with ease. And, I am more available to new clients.
“AAC Tax Service – the AAC stands for Amanda (Wiseman), Angela (Bray), and Clara. Amanda is my granddaughter. We have locations in Tracy City, Gruetli-Laager, and Cowan.”
In addition to her tax service, Dean spends time pursuing her greatest passion. For over 15 years, she has helped veterans get benefits from the Veterans Administration.
“I made up my mind that somehow or another, the guys who serve our country were going to be recognized. When you think of the Vietnam veterans, you can remember how society set them apart. Until recently, they were not really recognized.
“A good friend wrote home three months before his tour in Vietnam was up. He said he was going to kiss the ground when he returned home. He later told me that he couldn’t even find the ground when he returned. So much trash was thrown at the veterans.
“So, I have a special love for Vietnam veterans.
“The Lord sends these guys, veterans who are not getting the benefits they deserve, my way and I help them. I not only work with Vietnam vets, though. I help people from any conflict.”
Dean says she has never filled out an application for a veteran that was denied.
“The Lord has not failed me. My husband and I pray over each application before sending it in.”
A friend once asked Dean what she would do if the VA offered her $2 million to stop sending in applications. She said she might think about it, but would not stop.
“When my friend asked if I would stop a song came to mind that says, ‘I’m rich in love, I’m rich, but not for Satan’s wages.’”
When Dean is not preparing taxes and filling out forms for veterans, she has an interesting hobby.
“People are always surprised to know that four-wheeling is my favorite sport. I own my own four-wheeler and I love to go riding!”
Dean and her husband are happy in Grundy County. She loves the weather and is an outdoorsy person. They are the parents of two sons, Steven who is in the ministry and works at Bridgestone, and Stan who is an engineer with CSX. They are the proud grandparents of Amanda Wiseman and Tristan Owenby, and the great-grandparents of Amy, Megan, James, and Andrew.