By TOMI L. WILEY
Almost 30 years ago, Lynn Rohs stood expectantly as the patter of little feet echoed up the entry ramp into the airport, peering into the small, hopeful faces of the many Vietnamese children as they began to scatter and flock to the adults waiting, just like she was waiting.
Finally, when Rohs was approached by a nun carrying a baby she knew her child had finally been delivered to her after three years of waiting.
The 6-month-old baby, who had been in the care of a Catholic orphanage since birth, was the long-awaited adopted daughter fought for by Rohs and the Friends of Children of Vietnam. Named Maria, the infant was seriously ill with pneumonia and not expected to live.
The nun who handed the baby over to Rohs asked that she rush the child to a hospital.
As the doctor examined the baby, he asked that Rohs not get attached to the infant, who he believed would not live more than a few weeks. At 6 months old, the infant weighed only 8 pounds.
“I’ll just take her home and love her,” said Rohs at the time.
And that’s what she did.
And that’s how Tina Maria Rohs Winfree fought her way into life, in the warmth of a mother who found her from across the world.
“I may not have been born here, but Lebanon is my home,” Winfree said.
Although she looked different from other students, Winfree said she considers herself “a southern girl.”
“Everyone wants to fit in,” she explained, “so I don’t really consider myself different.”
For this transplanted Wilson County lady, fitting in doesn’t seem to be an issue: she said she and her husband are members of Flat Rock Church of Christ, she loves Nashville Predators games, crocheting, The Sound of Music, her cat Patches, and volunteering for the American Cancer Society.
“I’m the treasurer for the Wilson County Chapter,” Winfree added. “I’ve been involved in the Relay for Life here for eight years, since it started.”
Married for seven years this April to Kevin Winfree of Lebanon, she moved to Lebanon at the age of 2-½ and attended Friendship Christian School until her high school years. She graduated as valedictorian from Lebanon High School and attended the University of Tennessee at Martin for one year before transferring to Lipscomb University in Nashville, where she graduated magna cum laude.
While at Lipscomb, Winfree worked at Wilson Bank & Trust, which offered her a full-time position after she graduated in 1993 with a degree in Finance Economics.
Winfree worked in the bookkeeping department “rolling bank statements,” and after being promoted to an accounting assistant to the CFO, she left in November 2000. From there she worked in the regional account service center for Kroger for a year and a half, then moved to the Bank of the South as the assistant vice president and operations manager.
Such experience attracted Bob McDonald, president and CEO of CedarStone Bank, in organization. Pending regulatory approval, McDonald estimates that the bank will open in early April of this year and will be located in the Signature Plaza in Lebanon and the Rainbow Center in Mt. Juliet.
“We’re excited about the reception so far,” Winfree said. “We have very specific marketing plans to include public and community relations, quality customer service and employee empowerment.” Winfree went on to say that the bank “has been brought about by years of banking experience.
Winfree is the bank’s vice president, cashier and operations manager. Hank Stuart serves as senior vice president and senior credit officer, while Kay Talley is the administrative assistant.
According to McDonald, CedarStone Bank (in organization) has approximately 800 subscribers and over $8.5 million in total capital.
“I’m so excited to be a part of this all,” Winfree said. “It’s important to be part of my community, to serve those here at home.”