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CORRECTION: This story was updated at 1:09 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, to state that Don Eaves became a three-term Chattanooga city councilman. It had previously incorrectly stated Hamilton County commissioner.

Editor's note: The following people were among many well-known, well-loved and well-respected Chattanooga area community members who died in the past year.

 

JANUARY

— Judge Jim McKenzie, the current city judge for Dayton and former city judge for Graysville and Spring City, died Jan. 2. A longtime attorney, he was the former attorney for Dayton and for Rhea County and had been a member of the Rhea County Election Commission.

— James Frost, the founder and CEO of Frost Cutlery and namesake of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Frost Stadium, died Jan. 7. A force behind the building of the seven softball fields at Tyner Recreation Complex, he was inducted into the UTC College of Business Hall of Fame, the ASA Hall of Fame and was presented the Robert M. Artz Award by National Recreation and Parks Association.

— Joy Abelson, founder of the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga's Chai Steppers, chief archivist of the Jewish Archives of Chattanooga and former administrator of the Mizpah Congregation religious school, died Jan. 8. She also had been president of the UTC Elder Scholars, director of Boynton Senior Neighbors Center and co-commander of the Chattanooga chapter of American Ex-Prisoners of War.

— Lewis Priddy, longtime owner of The Front Runner and onetime Tennessee state director for the March of Dimes, died Jan. 10. He also had served on the boards of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Chattanooga Track Club, Northside Neighborhood House and North River YMCA, and organized fundraisers for the aforementioned organizations.

— Chris Ramsey, president of the Southeast Tennessee Health Consortium foundation and chief strategy officer at Yesmar Strategy and Consulting, died Jan. 16. He also had been the first Black chairman of Boys & Girls Club of Chattanooga, co-chairman of the Hamilton County Minority Health Fair and the Annual Boys Leadership Summit, and headed TechTown.

— Warren Logan, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga from 1995 to 2020, died Jan. 23. Formerly TVA manager of energy conservation programs and executive director of the Office of Minority Business Enterprise and the statewide Business Development Centers, he also had been chairman of the Tennessee Urban League Affiliates, chairman of the EPB board and a member of the board of Memorial Hospital.

 

FEBRUARY

— Anthony Martino, athletic director for Hixson High School for 32 years and namesake of its football field, died Feb. 2. He also had been the school's head football coach (and worked with the community to build its Hixson Community Stadium), coached track, cross country, basketball and wrestling, and was inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame.

— Bonnie Currey-Stamps, one of founders of AIM Center and its president and executive director for 25 years, died Feb. 3. Previously, she had been president of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Auxiliary and the Mental Health Association of Greater Chattanooga, served on numerous occupation-related boards and received local and state awards for her work.

— Bobby Lee Cook, celebrated North Georgia trial lawyer and believed to be the inspiration for the television show "Matlock," died Feb. 19. A World II veteran and once a member of the Georgia state legislature, he was honored with lifetime achievement awards by the National and Georgia Associations of Criminal Defense Lawyers, was presented the Georgia State University College of Law's 2017 Ben. F. Johnson Jr. Public Service Award, and was inducted in the American Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame.

 

MARCH

— Hermena Litton, former president of the Chattanooga Panhellenic Association and the Kosmos Women's Club, died March 7. She also had been regent for the Chief John Ross chapter of the DAR, vice president of the Hamilton County Pachyderm Club, and a board member of Pro Re Bona Daycare and Nursery (and was instrumental in building its new center).

— Dr. William Rowe, a former president of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society and first chief of staff at East Ridge Hospital (which he was instrumental in getting built), died March 12. He also had been a private practice doctor, clinical instructor for USA's Clinic for the Uninsured, and a member of the Erlanger hospital teaching staff through the University of Tennessee College of Medicine.

— Bill Brock, who represented the Chattanooga area as a four-term U.S. House member and Tennessee as a one-term U.S. senator, died March 25. He later served in two positions in the Reagan presidential administration Cabinet, was campaign manager for Sen. Bob Dole's first presidential campaign, and served on numerous trade and international policy boards.

— Richard "Rick" Wilson, a Hamilton County election commissioner from 1977 to 1984, died March 22. He had taught political science at UTC from 1971 to 2015, with sabbaticals at Foreign Affairs College and Beijing University (both in Beijing) and Samford University, and was the award-winning author of 13 books.

— Walker Breland, professor of music at UTC from 1972 to 2004, a leader of its Madrigal Singers, and former chairman of its Academic Affairs and Athletics committees, died March 28. A former president of the Riverbend Festival, he was organist for 25 years at First-Centenary United Methodist Church and then its organist emeritus.

 

APRIL

— Don Huskey, a former mayor and commissioner of public works for East Ridge, died April 3. He also had been the president of the East Ridge and Rossville Kiwanis clubs, commissioner or president of several athletic organizations, and a small business owner.

— Martha Hulgan, co-founder of an elevator maintenance company and founder of an elevator consulting firm, died April 12. She had been a three-time Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce Presidents Award winner, the 1994 Chattanooga Small Business Person of the Year and served on numerous industry boards.

 

MAY

— Mike Carter, a five-term state representative and chairman of the state House Civil Justice Committee, died May 15. The longtime area attorney also had been a Hamilton County Sessions Court judge and a special assistant to Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey.

— Danny Vest, best known for developing the girls' basketball program at Ringgold High School into a powerhouse, died May 15. He also had been assistant principal, athletic director and assistant football coach at the school, and later was night school director at Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

— J.B. Collins, reporter-editor at the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times Free Press for 59 years, died May 19. A large conference room at Chattanooga City Hall is named in his honor.

— Peggy Thomas, a legendary figure at Girls Preparatory School who coached basketball, volleyball, tennis, golf and swimming, organized the physical education curriculum and intramural sports program for grade 7-12, planned and directed the annual May Day pageant, designed the creative dance program and established the performing modern dance company, Terpsichord, died May 5. Director of the Cotton Ball (1988-2003) and former director of the Tennessee Camp for Diabetic Children, her honors include Outstanding Teacher Award from the National Physical Education Teachers Association, the Betty Probasco Lifetime Achievement Award from the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame and one of Girls Inc.'s 2012 Unbought and Unbossed Women in Chattanooga.

— Paul Leitner, employee and later partner for more than 60 years in the Leitner, Williams, Dooley and Napolitan law firm, died May 22. A former president of the Tennessee Defense Lawyers Association, he also had been a member of the state No Fault Insurance Commission, chairman of the local Campus Crusade for Christ, and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chattanooga Bar Association.

— Dr. Robert Coddington, an orthopaedic surgeon who was associate dean, professor and professor emeritus of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine (which he helped bring to town), died May 31: He also had been president of the Tennessee Orthopaedic Society, headed the Physicians Assistant Training Program at Chattanooga State Community College for 10 years, served on the Cherokee Area Council of Boy Scouts of America executive committee for 25 years, chaired the board of the National Association of Christian Athletes and chaired the local Men's Ministry Network.

 

JUNE

— Dr. Horace Traylor, the first Black president of Zion College (1959-1969) and the first Black graduate of the University of Chattanooga (UC), died June 29. When UC became the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 1969, he became a vice chancellor at UTC. He later worked in administration at Miami-Dade Community College.

 

JULY

— Sherman Matthews, a former member of the Chattanooga City Schools board and former chairman of the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Unity Group, died July 7. A member of the Hamilton County Schools Equity Task Force, he had worked for the state in foster care/juvenile justice unit supervision, and in regional juvenile probation and after-care services.

— Grace Keith, a teacher, coach and principal for Hamilton County schools who later restarted and coached the UTC women's basketball team (winning a regional championship in her second year), died July 14. She was a member of the UTC Athletics Hall of Fame and Chattanooga Volleyball Officials Association Hall of Fame and received the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame's Betty Probasco Lifetime Achievement Award.

— B. Lamar Rankin Sr., who had been a member of the University of Tennessee Development Council and was president and volunteer of the year for the Tennessee Lung Association, died July 17. He also had been a member of the Middle Tennessee and Cherokee Areas Councils of Boy Scouts (and recipient of the latter's Silver Beaver Award), was named first Volunteer of the Year by Signal Mountain Social Services (which subsequently named the award for him), and worked locally in property and real estate management, banking and financial planning.

 

AUGUST

— Amanda Cate, longtime principal at Barger Elementary School and first principal at both Big Ridge Elementary and Chattanooga School for the Performing Arts, died Aug. 13. She also had been a former president of the Adult Education Council and Tennessee Arts Commission Dance Panel, had served on the Bach Choir, Choral Arts Society and Chattanooga Little Theatre boards, and sang with Chattanooga Symphony Opera Chorus and Bach Choir.

— Ed Fisher, a longtime Realtor and founder of Fisher Realty, died Aug. 22. The Air Force veterans had been president of the Tennessee and Chattanooga Boards of Realty, former president of the GPS Board of Trustees, a member of the McCallie School Board of Trustees, and a member of the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame (for wrestling).

— Rev. Dr. Paul McDaniel, pastor of Second Missionary Baptist Church 1966-2014 and original and 20-year member of the Hamilton County Commission (including five terms as chairman), died Aug. 22. He filed the lawsuit that overturned the state statute that said ministers couldn't run for office and served on the state constitutional convention that changed Hamilton County's commission form of government. McDaniel also served on the Tennessee Human Rights Commission (winning its top civil rights award) and was given the Chattanooga Bar Association's Liberty Bell award and UTC's Legacy Award, among many other honors.

— Skipper Fairbanks, a longtime teacher and coach for Red Bank and Bridgeport (Ala.) schools and founder and director of the Red Bank Dixie Youth baseball program (where the park is named in his honor), died Aug. 28. A members of sports halls of fame in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia, he was a TSSAA referee for 42 years and was the recipient of the Chattanooga Bar Association's Liberty Bell award, Highland Sertoma Club's Mankind Award and was the 1973 Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce Sportsman of the Year, among many honors.

 

SEPTEMBER

— Alan Derthick, founder and partner in a local architectural practice and three-time president of the Chattanooga chapter of the American Institute of Architects and once of the Tennessee Society of Architects, died Sept. 8. The Air Force veteran also had been president of the board of Florence Crittenden Services, president and lieutenant governor of the Tennessee-Kentucky District of Kiwanis Club International, member of the UTC Chancellor's Roundtable and board member of the University of Chattanooga Foundation, and helped found the Sister City Association of Chattanooga.

— Susan Robertson, a member of the Signal Mountain Town Council for eight years (including vice mayor for six), died Sept. 17. She also had been a teacher, author, antiques appraiser and estate sale company owner.

— Thomas McConnell, who spent 24 years in secondary education, including director of ROTC for Hamilton County and JROTC Department of Defense coordinator for the state, died Sept. 28. The 26-year military veteran also had been chairman of Chattanooga's 70th Armed Forces Day parade, coordinator of West Point admissions for the 3rd Congressional District, was named Jaycees Outstanding Young Man of America and was tabbed a George F. Hixon Fellow for Kiwanis International.

 

OCTOBER

— Don Eaves, an electrical supply company owner who became a three-term Chattanooga city councilman (including a term as chairman), died Oct. 20. The Army veteran also was involved in many civic organizations and memorably portrayed Abraham Lincoln for many school and civic organizations.

 

NOVEMBER

— Ronald Shoemake, former chief of police and former acting fire chief of Rossville, Ga., and a former member of its city council, died Nov. 24. The Air Force veteran also had been elected Rossville city clerk and treasurer, serving 1963-1969, was past president of the Rossville Exchange Club (and honored as the 1967-1968 Exchangeite of the Year), was named Outstanding Citizen of the Year by the Rossville Jaycees and Rossville Lions Club, and served on the boards of the Rossville Library and Ross House Association.

— Diane Mason, founder and 47-year owner of Kandy Kastle Daycare, died Nov. 29. She also had been a board member of T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital and Room in the Inn, and a founding charter member of 100 Black Women of Chattanooga.

— Joe King, a pharmacist who grew Moore & King Pharmacy to the first drive-in pharmacy in the South and later founded King Medical, died Nov. 20. A former president of Manker Patten Tennis Club, he also had been president of the American College of Apothecaries, and was given the Presidents Award by the Portland, Ore., Druggist Retail Association, the Bowl of Hygeia Award by A.H. Robins Drug Co. and the Leon Lascoff Award by American College of Apothecaries.

— Compiled by staff writer Clint Cooper

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