Former U.S. Xpress Executive Ray Harlin Dies at 72

Former U.S. Xpress executive Ray Harlin Jr.
Ray Harlin Jr., a former president and chief financial officer, joined U.S. Xpress in 1998 and retired from the company in 2015. (U.S. Xpress)

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Ray Harlin Jr., former chief financial officer and president of U.S. Xpress, died Oct. 28, surrounded by family at his home in Chattanooga, Tenn. He was 72.

Harlin faced cancer with “optimism and perseverance,” said Carolyn, his wife of nearly 50 years, according to an obituary posted on the website of the Hamilton Funeral Home and Cremation Service, in Hixson, Tenn.

Harlin joined U.S. Xpress in 1998 and retired in 2015. Before joining U.S. Xpress, he worked at the former accounting firm Arthur Andersen for 25 years, ultimately becoming managing partner of the firm’s Chattanooga office.

Harlin was born March 19, 1950, in Martinsville, Va. After graduating from Brandywine High School in Wilmington Del., he attended the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, where he studied accounting and graduated cum laude in 1972.


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After college, Ray and Carolyn, newly married, moved to Chattanooga.

Harlin’s retirement was short-lived, which came as no surprise to those who knew him well. Most recently, he was a financial consultant for Santek in Cleveland, Tenn. He also served on the boards of Smith Transport in Roaring Spring, Pa., and United States Lime & Minerals Inc., a Nasdaq-listed public company headquartered in Dallas.

Well-liked and respected, generous personally and professionally, Harlin always was willing to help people in his area of expertise to the very end.

He was an avid golfer and a member of The Honors Course and Chattanooga Golf and Country Club.

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He was known for his warm smile and infectious laugh. Harlin loved golf, Jack Daniel’s, Fridays, driveway walks and balancing objects on his head to make his granddaughters laugh.

Harlin was known to repeat a handful of “wise” phrases so often that his daughter and granddaughters could say along with him. Some of his favorites were: “It’s always better in the morning,” “You learn something new every day” and “Mac ’n cheese is my favorite vegetable.”

Harlin was preceded in death by his parents, Ray M. Harlin Sr. and Mary Elizabeth (Betsy) Foster Harlin and his brother, Raymond Joseph Harlin.

He is survived by wife Carolyn Cantera Harlin; daughter Lynn Harlin Shelton; granddaughters Carolina Elizabeth Kelley, Merritt Isabella Kelley and Evelyn Grace Shelton; sister Lisa Wagoner; brother Daniel Harlin; nephew Christopher Wagoner; niece Amy Dean and many extended family members.

In lieu of flowers, the family asked that friends consider contributing to a cause that matters to them — or play a round of golf, have a drink with friends, make your grandchildren giggle and most importantly, live life fully, have fun and be kind.