Campus Community Health • HEERF I, II & III

Crawford Alumni Center

Friends Remembered

  • Rob Austin

    Rob Austin

    Rob Austin, a long-time Tennessee Tech supporter and friend of the Athletics program, passed away on Jan. 8. He was 85.

    Austin attended Florida State and later graduated from Southern Miss with degrees in geology and geography. Following graduation, he became the chief geologist at the New Jersey Zinc Mine in Carthage, Tennessee. After his father passed, he oversaw his family's business as a natural gas and oil lease broker.

    Austin also developed a love of photography. He opened Austin's 1-Hour Photo and ran the business for many years. He developed a long relationship with Tech Athletics, providing pictures for use by the Tech Sports Information office -- including Hall of Fame photos, action photos and other pictures for coaches to use. For years, he traveled with the Sports Information staff on road trips and took photos of events.

    Austin also served as a volunteer coach with Bobby Nichols and the Tech golf teams, filling in when Nichols was unavailable to travel. With Nichols and Jim Ragland, Austin was one of the three people instrumental in establishing the Golden Eagle Scramble as a fundraiser. He was a longtime member of Tech's President's Club.

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  • Larry Peach

    Larry PeachDr. Larry Eugene Peach, Professor Emeritus at Tennessee Tech University, passed away suddenly on Feb. 20, 2023.

    Larry was born Sept. 18, 1939, in Humboldt, Tennessee.

    Larry received his bachelor's degree in education from Lambuth College, his master's from Memphis State University and his doctorate from University of Tennessee Knoxville. His career, from teacher, to superintendent, to administrator has been one of servitude. Using the tools of higher education to "pass forward" his love of educating and helping others, he will forever be recognized for his dedication and hard work to help advance others. He will continue to foster growth in others through the Larry and Allene Peach Endowed Scholarship in Early Childhood Education at Tennessee Tech University, where he taught, garnered his deanship and eventually his well-deserved title of Professor Emeritus in retirement.

    Memorial contributions may be made to the Larry and Allene Peach Endowed Scholarship in Early Childhood Education. Make checks out to the TTU Foundation and mail to Tennessee Tech, Box 1915, Cookeville, TN 38505 or give online at Indicate that your gift is for the Larry and Allene Peach Scholarship.

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  • Clarice Cummins Hargrove

    Clarice Cummins Hargrove and cousinsClarice W. Cummins Hargrove, `50 music education, passed away on Jan. 19, 2023, after a brief stay in the hospital.

    She was buried at Pine Hill cemetery on the Cummins family land near Cummins Falls, and a celebration of life occurred at the Belmont church in Nashville, where she lived with her daughter.

    She was in the very first class to graduate with a music degree from Tennessee Tech. Clarice left instructions for her 50-year tennessee Tech Golden Grad medallion to be displayed with her awards from the W.O. Smith Nashville Community Music School (Teacher of the Year, a "Smitty" Award for long and distinguished volunteer service, and a nomination for a Mary Katherine Strobel Award).

    Her piano teaching career spanned 70 years. She studied with former first lady Joan Derryberry during her time at Tech and graduated in the class one year ahead of James Wattenbarger (former Tech professor and chair of the music department).

    Photo top left: Clarice Cummings Hargrove (far right) with two cousins at Tennessee Tech graduation in 1950.

  • Ottis Phillips

    Ottis PhillipsOttis Phillips, age 71 of Cookeville, passed away suddenly on February 7, 2023 at his home.

    He was born July 19, 1951 in Cookeville. Ottis graduated from Putnam County Senior High School in 1969 before enrolling at Tennessee Tech University in the fall of that year. As a walk-on player, Ottis earned an athletic scholarship and was a four-year letterman for the Golden Eagle football team. He received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1974 and his MBA in 1978.

    Ottis was passionate about his alma mater and his community, serving on the Cavalier Foundation supporting Cookeville High School, the Hall of Fame Committee for TTU Athletics, the TTU Foundation Board of Directors, and he was a past chairman of the Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce. He served as the first chair of the TSSAA Steering Committee, which brought the BlueCross/BlueShield Bowl to Cookeville in 2008. In 2022, Ottis was inducted into the TTU Sports Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was named the Tennessee Tech Athletics Outstanding Alumnus of the Year and in 2018, he was honored with the Outstanding Philanthropy Award from Tennessee Tech's Alumni Association.

    In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Tennessee Tech Football Operations Center online ( or by mailing a check to TTU, Box 1915, Cookeville, TN 38505. Please make the check out to the TTU Foundation and indicate that it is for the Football Operations Center. To learn more about Ottis's passion for the Center and Tech Athletics, read the TTU Sports Information's tribute

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  • Subramaniam Deivanayagam

    Dr. DeivySubramaniam Deivanayagam, or "Dr. Deivy" as he was more commonly known, has passed. For nearly three decades, Dr. Deivy served Tech, working as a faculty member, chair of Industrial Engineering, and as associate dean for Graduate Studies and Research in Engineering.

    He personally had a passion for supporting graduate students. He and his wife, Ratna, established an endowment in honor of his grandfather to aid graduate students in engineering. He was awarded the Brown-Henderson Award for outstanding performance in teaching and research in 2001.

    He also served as president of the Tamil Nadu Foundation, which is devoted to promoting educational, social and charitable projects for the welfare of the people of Tamil Nadu.

  • Sara Gotcher

    Sara GotcherSara Elizabeth Gotcher, 64, passed away on Jan. 30, 2023.

    She was a native Clarksvillian, a 1976 graduate from Clarksville High School, a 1981 graduate of the Department of Speech, Communication and Theatre at Austin Peay.

    She earned her MFA at the University of Florida and her Ph.D. in theatre at LSU. She earned her Actor's Equity card and worked in professional theatre in the southeast before returning to Austin Peay to teach. She retired from APSU after 25 years of teaching. She loved the performing arts. She directed and acted in numerous productions at APSU and the Roxy. She brought laughter and tears to thousands of audience members.

    Sara's husband, Mike Gotcher, is Dean of the College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Tennessee Tech.

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  • R. K. Fletcher

    R. K. FletcherDr. Richard K. Fletcher, Jr., professor emeritus, passed away on Feb. 3. He influenced hundreds of teachers through his service to Tennessee Tech's College of Education.

    His leadership roles at Tech included being co-director of the Educational Conference for area teachers, Director of the College of Education Learning Resources Center and Director of the Upper Cumberland Regional Science and Engineering Fair. A math and chemistry major in college, he earned a doctorate in science education and taught survey courses in the physical sciences, science education, mathematics education, environmental education, computer education, and educational research and statistical methods.

    In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the following funds at Tennessee Tech: R.K. and Marcia Fletcher Scholarship Endowment, Marvin Tidwell Science/Engineering Fair, Education Technology Fund. To make a gift, visit, select "other" and type in the name of the fund you wish to support. If you prefer to mail a check, send it to Tennessee Tech, Box 1915, Cookeville, TN 38505. Make the check out to the TTU Foundation and indicate which area you wish to support.


  • Del "Warren" Huddleston

    A pencil drawing of Warren HuddlestonDel "Warren" Huddleston, 67, of Crossville, Tennessee, passed away on Dec. 7, 2022.

    Warren started his career as a golf professional at Druid Hills in Fairfield Glade in 1973 after completing a successful collegiate golf career for his beloved Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. Anyone who knew Warren knows that he remained an avid supporter of all things Tennessee Tech for his entire life, attending many Tech sporting events.

    Warren worked in the Golf Department at Fairfield Glade from 1973 until his retirement in 2014. Across his career, he served as Director of Golf and Head Professional at Druid Hills, Dorchester and Stonehenge. His golfing career was capped by being awarded the Distinguished Career Award in 2018, the highest honor bestowed on a PGA Professional in the State of Tennessee.

    In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Warren Huddleston Scholarship Fund. Individuals wishing to donate can mail checks to the TTU Foundation, Box 1915, Cookeville, TN 38505 (write Warren Huddleston Scholarship in the memo line of the check or in an accompanying note), or gifts can be made online at

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  • James G. White

    James G White

    James. G. "Jim" White, `67 finance, passed away on Nov. 1, 2022.

    Jim graduated from Tennessee Tech University in 1967 with a degree in finance and received his Juris Doctor Degree at the University of Tennessee. Outside of the traditional classroom, Jim learned invaluable lessons through his involvement with the Boy Scouts, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. He was also recipient of the Long Rifle Award, the Silver Beaver Award and was a James F. West Fellow. Later, he gave back to the organization and its youth by serving as vice president of the Middle Tennessee Council of Boy Scouts as an active fundraiser.

    Jim was a retired Captain in the United States Navy and served in Vietnam. During his naval career, he commanded seven naval reserve units in Alabama and Louisiana. Jim also gave nearly 30 years to public service as Assistant District Attorney General. He was a member of the Tennessee Bar Association and past president of the Lawrence County Bar Association.

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  • Hugh "Hix" Stubblefield

    Hix Stubblefield

    Hugh Hix Stubblefield passed away on Nov. 9 at the age of 90.

    Professor Stubblefield was an English Department faculty member for 37 years who retired in 1999. He taught journalism and advised student publications, including the Oracle newspaper and the Eagle Yearbook. He was named to the honor roll of advisors by the National Council of College Publication Advisors for his work with student publications.

    Former student Laura Clemons represented hundreds of Tech journalism graduates when she described him as an "unassuming, seemingly unflappable gentleman who formed the foundation of my career in journalism. Described as 'tough' by many former students who use the word as a compliment, he worked long nights with the student newspaper staff and stood by students as they grew from the experience."

    There will be a celebration of life for Professor Stubblefield on Dec. 17, from 9:30-11 a.m., at Friendship United Methodist Church in Cookeville (5454 S Jefferson Ave). Service will follow at 11 a.m.

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  • Stephen Scott

    Stephen Scott

    Stephen Scott passed away on Oct. 25, 2022.

    Stephen was born in Greenville, PA, and graduated from Reynolds High School. He earned a bachelor's degree from Thiel College and master's and doctorate degrees from Kent State University.

    He was formerly a researcher at Oak Ridge National Lab and more recently a professor of computer science at Tennessee Tech.

    He enjoyed many various outdoor activities throughout his lifetime, especially taking people walleye fishing on Lake Erie and trout fishing in Tennessee. He was a member of St. Therese Church in Clinton, TN, and enjoyed studying the Bible.

    He is remembered for his deep love and loyalty for his family, his amazing ability to analyze situations, his invaluable advice to colleagues and students and his incredible breadth of knowledge about so many things.

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  • Benjamin W. Kniffin

    Ben KniffinBenjamin W. Kniffin passed away on Oct. 21, 2022.

    Ben was born on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, 1954. He graduated from Concord High School in 1972 and from Tennessee Tech in 1982 with a degree in agriculture.

    He was a locksmith and his family says he could do or fix absolutely everything.

    Ben's wife, Brenda, said Ben didn't want an obituary, but she had to acknowledge her hero, her voice of reason, a super intelligent man, the love of her life and the father of her children.

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  • Eston Evans

    Eston Evans

    Eston Evans passed away on Oct. 28, 2022.

    He was a 1958 graduate of Palmyra High School. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1958-1961, at Langley AFB, VA, and Karamursel, Turkey, specializing in communications and cryptography.

    Eston earned a bachelor's degree in German in 1958 from Lebanon (PA) Valley College, a master's degree in German from Penn State University in 1975, and his Ph.D. in Germanic language from the University of Texas in 1975. He also studied abroad at American Scandinavian Society/Thord-Gray and participated in Fulbright Travel at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

    His career as a professor began at Penn State from 1968-1977. In 1977, he moved to Cookeville where he served at Tennessee Tech University as a professor of German, World Cultures and Business, director of the ESL Institute and interim Foreign Language Department chair until his retirement in 2008.

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  • Joe Williams

    Joe WilliamsJoe Anderson Williams, born June 3, 1931, passed away on August 2, 2022, in Tullahoma, Tennessee.

    Williams was born and raised in Tullahoma. He received a bachelor's degree in business management from Tennessee Tech in 1953 and a juris doctorate from Nashville School of Law in 1976.

    When he graduated from Tech, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He served two years on active duty from 1954-56 and left the service as a first lieutenant. He returned to Tullahoma where he worked for more than 37 years with ARO, Inc., which changed its corporate identity to Sverdrup Technology, Inc. 13 years before Williams retired in 1993 as Corporate Counsel and Director of Human Resources. He also privately practiced law on a part-time basis.

    Williams was involved in many civic endeavors including the Board of Directors of the AEDC Federal Credit Union, of which he was chairman from 1975-78, the Board of Directors of the Tullahoma Industrial Board, of which he was chairman from 1982-85, and the Board of Directors of the South Jackson Civic Association, of which he was president from 1993-94. After he retired from Sverdrup, he provided pro bono work legal services to several local churches and charitable organizations.

    Williams was a Tower Society member of Tennessee Tech's President's Club. 

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  • Les Winningham

    a portrait of Les WinninghamLeslie Everett Winningham, age 81, passed away on June 18.

    He hitchhiked from Byrdstown, Tennessee, to Swannanoa, North Carolina, to attend college at Warren Wilson College and graduated with an associate's degree in forestry in 1961 while lettering in both basketball and baseball. He went on to further his education at Tennessee Tech where he earned a bachelor's degree in health and physical education in 1964 and a master's degree in curriculum and instruction in 1967.

    Winningham became the youngest-ever elected school superintendent when he was elected as Pickett County's superintendent in 1968. From coaching countless high school basketball players, to classroom teaching, assistant principal and principal positions, his goal was to help every student reach their potential and succeed. Under his leadership as principal, Scott High School was named a Governor's Great School of Tennessee in 1987.

    In 1984, Winningham was elected to the Tennessee Legislature to represent the 38th district. Over a prestigious 26-year career in the legislature, he represented counties including Clay, Jackson, Macon, Pickett, Scott and part of Anderson.

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  • Paul G. Stephenson

    A portrait of Dr. StephensonDr. Paul G. Stephenson passed away on June 6 at the age of 89.

    Dr. Stephenson devoted decades of his life to the university, serving as the first chairperson of Tennessee Tech's Political Science Department from 1964 until his retirement in 1998. He was also a veteran of the United States Air Force.

    In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Paul G. Stephenson Scholarship Endowment at Tennessee Tech. (Visit and type in the name of the scholarship in the field provided, or mail a check to Tennessee Tech, Box 1915, Cookeville, TN. Checks should be made out to the TTU Foundation and include Paul G. Stephenson Scholarship Endowment in the memo line.)


  • LTG Don Rodgers

    A portrait of LTG RodgersLTG Thurmand Donell Rodgers peacefully passed away in his sleep Thursday, June 9, 2022 at the home he shared with his wife of 33 years, June Scobee Rodgers.

    LTG Rodgers earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Tennessee Tech and was commissioned into United States Army to serve in the Army Signal Corps in 1957. Later in his career, he earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Northern Colorado.

    As a three-star general, LTG Rodgers commanded at every level in the Army from platoon through company, battalion, brigade, post, to a major Army command. His awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, two awards of the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, several Vietnam awards and the French Order of National Merité. He was also awarded the Joint Staff and the Army General Staff Identification Badges.

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  • GEN Carl Stiner

    A portrait of GEN Carl StinerGeneral Carl W. Stiner passed away on June 2.

    General Stiner graduated from Tennessee Polytechnic Institute (now Tennessee Tech) in 1958 with a degree in agricultural science. He was also commissioned in the infantry. 

    During his 35-year career in the U.S. Army, General Stiner commanded the U.S. Military's preeminent contingency strike force, including the Joint Special Operations Command, the 82nd Airborne Division, the XVIII Airborne Corps and the U.S. Special Operations Command. As Commanding General of XVIII Airborne Corps, he was designated Commander, Joint Task Force South, and served as the Operational Commander of all forces employed on Operation JUST CAUSE in Panama in December 1989. In June 1990, he was promoted to the rank of General and became the second Commander in Chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command. In this role, he was responsible for the readiness of all Special Operations Forces of the Army, Navy and Air Force, both active duty and reserve, during Operation Desert Storm. General Stiner retired in May 1993 and moved back to his hometown of LoFollette, Tennessee, where he and his wife Sue remained dedicated members of the community.

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  • Ronald Mezime

    A portrait of Ronald MezimeRonald Mezime, 40, of Baxter, Tennessee, passed away on Thursday, May 5, 2022.

    Ronald worked at Tennessee Tech for 16 years and was the assistant director of Residential Life and co-advisor for the Residence Hall Association.

    He was loved by Tech staff and students, and his Residential Life colleagues say there will forever be a hole in the heart of Res Life. They described him as a beautiful soul, an amazing colleague and a wonderful mentor with an amazing smile and kind demeanor.

    Ronald was the youth pastor for Gordonsville Church of the Nazarene and the assistant soccer coach for White County High School. He also loved Florida State Football.

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  • Richard J. Papes

    A portrait of Richard PapesRichard J. Papes, 81, passed away on Saturday, May 7, 2022.

    Richard graduated from Tennessee Tech in 1963 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He was a member of the Golden Eagle men's basketball team. It was at Tech that he met and married his wife of 58 years, Marion Ann Papes. The two had four children and four grandchildren. Richard retired from General Electric Aviation in Evendale, Ohio. 

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  • Millard V. Oakley

    A portrait of Millard OakleyTennessee Tech President Phil Oldham shared the following message with faculty, staff and students on Thursday, April 21, 2022:

    It is with great sadness I share with you the passing of one of Tech's most enthusiastic and generous supporters, Millard Vaughn Oakley.

    Oakley was a former member of the Tennessee General Assembly and board member of First National Bank of Tennessee, which he co-founded. After practicing law for several years, he served in the Tennessee General Assembly for four terms, as the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance from 1975 to 1979, and as general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Small Business (1971-1973).

    Oakley also previously owned WLIV, a radio station in Livingston, Tennessee. He served on the Tennessee Board of Regents from 2006-2012 and was most recently a founding member of the first Tennessee Tech Board of Trustees, serving from 2017-2018.

    A great supporter of his community, Oakley was also passionate about education and philanthropy. He was honored with the Tennessee Board of Regents' Award for Excellence in Philanthropy in 2011. In 2015, he donated Hartsaw Cove Farm -- one of Tennessee's Pioneer Century Farms -- to Tennessee Tech.

    In recognition of this gift, the home building of the College of Agriculture & Human Ecology was named Oakley Hall. In 2010, Tennessee Tech opened the Millard Oakley Center for the Teaching and Learning of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Additional contributions to the university include J. J. Oakley Health Services inside Bell Hall and, just announced in 2021, the new J. J. Oakley Innovation Center and Residence Hall that is slated for construction soon.

    Oakley attended Tennessee Tech and graduated from Cumberland University School of Law. In spring 2021, Oakley was recognized at the commencement ceremonies and awarded an honorary doctorate of agriculture.



  • Michael "Birdie" Birdwell

    A photo of Birdie at Father Tom'sBy Laura Clemons

    Michael E. “Birdie” Birdwell wasn’t done yet.

    When he passed away Sunday night, March 20, Tennessee Tech and Cookeville lost their best storyteller and historian -- a man with a questing mind and catholic tastes, a man who could bring history to people and leave them wanting more. You have to work hard, he would say, to make history boring.

    Born March 8, 1957, Birdie grew up working on farms. His first passion was art, followed by reading; his father told Birdie and his sisters that if they had time to watch TV, they had time to read a book. Their father, Birdie said, brought them up to be hard workers and to make a mark.

    His Tech lineage dates back to 1915, when his great-grandfather, master mason for Scott and Smoot bricklayers, helped construct the first buildings on campus. He earned two degrees at Tennessee Tech and went on to finish a Ph.D. at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 1996, coming home to Cookeville as an adjunct faculty member at Tech before accepting a tenure-track position in 2000.

    Birdie's breadth of knowledge was astonishing, he had enough energy for 10, he loved collecting stories and was as happy to hear them as to tell them. He could be impatient, abrupt, outspoken. Ask him a question, and you had to be prepared to sit awhile. Ask for information about any particular topic, and he would hand you a stack of paper. He was irreverent, witty. His lectures and presentations were animated and unabashedly opinionated.

    People outside of Tech and Cookeville began paying closer attention as he began publishing his research on WWI hero Sgt. Alvin C. York of nearby Fentress County. He curated the York papers, serving as archivist since 1997. That work opened the door to research on another American icon, Harry Warner of Warner Bros. Studio, which produced the 1941 Gary Cooper biopic Sgt. York. Its archives held invaluable information about his principal topic, York, and led to his first published book, Celluloid Soldiers: Warner Bros. Campaign Against Nazism in 1999, with a German edition released the next year.

    Alongside History Prof. Calvin Dickinson and English Prof. Homer Kemp, Birdie co-edited the 2002 Hillsboro Press book Historic Architecture of the Upper Cumberland. With Dickinson, he edited and contributed to Rural Life and Culture, published by the University of Kentucky Press in 2004, as well as People of the Upper Cumberland, a 2015 University of Tennessee Press release which won the Tennessee Library Association's Best History Book of the Year award.

    As a cultural historian, Birdie emphasized the importance of public history. He co-directed a $941,000 project for high school history teachers. He worked on nearly 30 documentaries and historical series, including Everybody's Welcome: John's Place with WCTE-TV. In 2016, he won Tech's highest academic honor, the Caplenor Award.

    He presented at 100 conferences, wrote more than 30 articles and chapters -- all told, in his 26 years as a member of the Tennessee Tech faculty, he produced well over 250 scholarly and popular works. Between 2016 and 2019, he chaired the Tennessee State Review Board for the National Register of Historic Places, the Tennessee Preservation Trust, and the Tennessee Great War Commission. At the time of his death, he had five books in the works.

    The man just did not know how to sit still.

    Next to history and literature, Birdie's greatest passion was the stage. He took part in productions at Tennessee Tech's Backdoor Playhouse beginning in the 1970s. He was interim director of the Tech Players during the 1986-87 season; over the years, he directed 20 productions there and at the Cookeville Performing Arts Center.

    But of all his work, nothing stirred him like injustice. Birdie was in first grade when Darwin School, the only local school for African American students, burned. As part of the first integrated class in Cookeville, he was furious and horrified by incidents of overt prejudice. When the owner of Cookeville's treasured African American tavern, Mary Alice McClellan, asked him to write a National Register nomination for her establishment, he said yes, focusing on the tavern's role in race relations, and the two received a standing ovation from the review board when it approved the nomination in 2011. He said the greatest honor of his life was participating in a symposium on film and media at Yad Vashem, the International Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem; he was the only American presenter.

    For the past 16 years, cancer was his foe, and he approached that very intimate cause with as much determination as he had shown his scholarly achievements and cultural accomplishments. His drive and ambitions were relentless ... he just couldn't realize them all in the scant 65 years he had. He was never completely satisfied, never convinced he lived up to his father's dictum to make a mark.

    There will never be another Birdie, but thanks to Birdie, there are thousands of students across the globe who are inspired by him and aspire to goals as worthy. He once described Sgt. York "as a fascinating, complex character who didn't think what he did was extraordinary." He could have been describing himself. 

  • Grady P. Williams

    A portrait of Grady WilliamsGrady Pascal Williams, 87, of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, passed away on Monday, March 21, 2022.

    He was born in Sequatchie Valley where he grew up on a farm. He graduated from Bledsoe County High School in 1953 and went on to Tennessee Tech University where he graduated with a degree in accounting with honors.

    He started his career in Chattanooga at the accounting firm of Hazlett, Lewis, and Bieter.  He loved being a CPA and spent over 47 years with HLB.  While working with HLB, he took a two-year leave for military service as a U.S. Army Paratrooper Infantry Officer and was honorably discharged as a Captain.  Grady officially “retired” from being a CPA when he was 80, but spent many hours at home helping friends and family with their taxes up to the day of his passing.

    He had a passion for serving and became involved in many civic and philanthropic organizations over the last 50 years including Chairman of the United Way Campaign, the United Way Board, President of the Rotary Club of Chattanooga, and the Advisory Board for Tennessee Tech University where a scholarship fund is established in his name. Grady never turned down an opportunity to get involved and to help others with his time and resources.

    Later in his career he became one of the organizers of Capital Mark Bank in Chattanooga and served on its Board of Directors.  One of his last accomplishments was co-chairing the fundraising for the Erlanger Children Hospital expansion in 2018.

    Grady loved being active and spent hours working in the yard on weekends, usually with begrudging help from his sons.  He loved playing tennis for many years in the backyard on Signal Mountain with his Saturday morning buddies.  He loved vacations with the family and spending time at the lake and never found a seafood platter that he did not like. 

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  • Sheila Green

    A snapshot of Shelia Green in front of a Christmas tree.

    Sheila Ann Sullivan Green, age 72, passed away Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022, at her home in Knoxville. Prior to coming to TTU, she taught at the Baptist Hospital School of Nursing, Memphis, TN and received two Master’s degrees prior to completing her PhD in Nursing at the University of Tennessee, Health Sciences Center, Memphis, TN.  

    Dr. Sheila Green taught in the TTU School of Nursing  from 1996 to 2004 and served as both the Director (2004-2005) and Dean (2005-2010). After choosing to step down in 2010, she taught until her retirement in 2011 but continued to teach for several years in the TN eCampus MSN program. During her career as a faculty member and administrator, Dr. Green led the School through multiple accreditations and, as a member of the Nursing Curriculum Committee of the six TBR universities, collaborated with other state leaders to develop the TN eCampus (formerly RODP) Master of Science in Nursing consortium (2003-2004). A conscientious and detailed-oriented administrator, she visited numerous colleges of nursing and researched the latest structure needs for a new building layout—eventually leading to what is now Bell Hall. Once it was finished, she played a key role in the transition into the new building. Notably, at its completion, enrollment doubled as the school transitioned from annual upper division admissions to admission twice per year.
    In 1996, with the exception of the Dean at the time, Dr. Green was the only faculty member in the School with a doctorate. She initiated and led the School on its journey to “grow your own” doctoral-prepared faculty. She encouraged, mentored, and supported faculty in their pursuit of a doctoral education. In addition, her clinical expertise in mental health was an asset to the community as she was one of the first Clinical Nurse Specialists in Adult Psychiatric and Mental Health to have a private practice in Cookeville. 
    As Dean/Director, she maintained high standards for the school. For example, she kept abreast of current best practices in nursing and led the faculty in endorsing an NCLEX benchmark of 95 percent. The school has maintained that standard to this date, posting an NCLEX average above 95 percent since 2008. 
    After retirement, Dr. Green continued to serve as an adjunct in the MSN program until 2019 when her health became compromised. She taught almost every semester including summers in the Scholarly Synthesis Course in which students complete a scholarly state of the science paper (course is in lieu of a thesis). 
    As evidenced by faculty quality, alumni excellence, and high caliber of the student body, Dr. Green made a significant impact on the School as both a faculty member and leader. 
    She is survived by her mother, Frances (Darrell) Penick; daughters, DeeAnn Green (Eric) Climer and Sarah Green (Lendale) Smith; five grandchildren, Grace Haynes, Lucas Haynes, Mathew Climer, Logan Climer and Andrew Climer. She was preceded in death by her father, T.L. Sullivan; husbands, Arthur Donald Green and Robert Francia; and a brother, Keith Sullivan.

    A private Celebration of Life is planned to be at a future date.

    The Sheila Green Professor Emeritus of Nursing Scholarship has been established to honor her memory. Gifts may be made by mailing a check to University Advancement, Tennessee Tech University, Campus Box 1915, Cookeville, TN 38505. Gifts may be online at Please indicate that this is for the Shelia Green Nursing Scholarship fund.

  • Ben Thomas Bilbrey

    A snapshot of Mr. BilbreyBen Thomas Bilbrey of Glendale, Arizona, passed away on November 12, 2021.

    Ben grew up on his family's farm in Overton County and attended Rickman High School. He graduated from Tennessee Tech in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture. After college, he was drafted into the U.S. Army for the war in Vietnam. He received the bronze star, purple hearts and numerous other medals but always said they meant nothing to him compared to the men he served with and lost.

    Ben worked in the tire industry in Nashville and Phoenix and loved to fish as often as possible. Ben was a country boy, a son, a brother, a father, a grandfather, a friend and a veteran who left an indelible mark on many of the people he knew and loved.

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  • William "Bill" Freeman

    A snapshot of Bill FreemanWilliam "Bill" Andrew Freeman, age 68, passed away on February 19, 2022.

    He was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and graduated from Litton High School in 1971. He later graduated from Tennessee Tech in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering. At Tech, he was a member of the Theta Tau Fraternity.

    Bill went on to earn a Masters of Science in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 1976. He then moved to Austin and joined IBM. While working at IBM, he received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin in 1982.

    Bill was a member of the IBM softball team and a local sports fan. He had many hobbies ranging from photography, star-gazing and camping. He was an avid DIY-er and could often be found tinkering with an electronics project around the house.

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  • John Wallace Harris

    John Wallace Harris

    Dr. John Wallace Harris passed away on Feb. 1, 2022.

    Dr. Harris taught and mentored hundreds of students over his 49 years at Tech and spent his career serving others.

    After receiving his bachelor's degree at Western Illinois University and his master's and doctorate from Indiana University, he moved to Cookeville in 1968. He was a professor of biology for 45 years and then served in the College of Interdisciplinary Studies for four years. He served for many years as the director of Tech's Honors Program and was awarded the Tennessee Academy of Science and Distinguished Service Award.

    His community service included active membership in Toastmasters International and the Lions Club. While he was a 1991 Fullbright Scholar, he loved being known as a Chicago Cubs fan even more.

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  • Rebecca Violet

    Rebecca VioletRebecca Violet, a current Tennessee Tech student and an administrative associate for the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, passed away on Feb. 2. Rebecca had worked in Curriculum & Instruction since 2013 and was pursuing a degree in exercise science.

    Her colleagues say she was always a kind, welcoming face in Matthews-Daniel Hall.

    "Faculty and students knew her well for her smile, contagious laugh and sweet disposition," said Jeremy Wendt, chair of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction and professor of Educational Technology. "Her attention to the needs of the students was always her first priority, regardless if they were education majors or not. She was also a lifelong learner and was recently working toward completing a degree in exercise science."

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  • Dustin Pegram

    Dustin Pegram at the piano.Dustin Pegram, a current music major at Tennessee Tech, passed away on Feb. 4.

    Dustin had a special love for the music of Bach. He was a gifted musician, excellent performer and a voracious student of jazz and improvisation. He was a member of the jazz ensemble, Troubadours and Trouveres. He was also a history buff.

    Dustin was the grandson of the late Dr. Wayne Pegram, a 1959 Tech graduate who served on Tech's faculty for 35 years as Director of Bands and Director of the Music Education program.

    Memorial contributions may be made to the Tennessee Tech Jazz Program. Checks should be mailed to Tennessee Tech University, Campus Box 1915, Cookeville, TN 38505, or gifts can be made online at Please note the Jazz Program on the check or in the space provided on the online giving form.

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  • Tracy Monroe Luna

    A portrait of Mr. LunaTracy Monroe Luna passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021, at the age of 48 after a 17 month battle with pancreatic cancer. He first attended college at Tennessee Tech University where he played with the internationally-known Tennessee Tech Tuba Ensemble (TTTE), directed by Mr. Winston Morris. He then returned to Tech to complete his masters. 

    Tech's School of Music will host a free concert to celebrate the life and music of Tracy M. Luna on Saturday, Feb. 19. For those able to join in person, please enjoy a casual reception starting at 6 p.m. and a concert at 7 p.m. in Wattenbarger Auditorium in Bryan Fine Arts Building. The concert will also be livestreamed here and will will highlight groups that were particularly important to Tracy. 


  • Bruce Throckmorton

    a photo of Dr. ThrockmortonDr. H. Bruce Throckmorton, passed away on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.

    Dr. Throckmorton was a kind, sincere, and giving person who loved his family, friends, and community.  Having served College of Business students and the university for 47 years, Dr. Throckmorton was passionate about teaching, especially in areas related to macroeconomics, money and banking, and financial institutions.  He was a huge Golden Eagles fan, and his service to our community was exemplary and included leadership roles in the Cookeville Kiwanis Club.  Dr. Throckmorton’s generosity extended to his college, and many have enjoyed teaching and learning in the Virginia and Bruce Throckmorton classroom. 

  • Cindy Mathis

    A photo of Mrs. MathisCindy Mathis, `12 business management, passed away on January 2, 2022. 

    Cindy was a Tech graduate and an employee who served more than 30 years, always eager to help faculty, students and staff. She most recently was a financial associate in the School of Agriculture. Cindy’s close colleagues described her as a confidante who was caring, giving, creative, and crafty, plus a technology wiz who could solve problems. 

    The college team of Tawnya, Lisa and Cindy, known fondly as TLC, took pride in saying everyone who came to them needing help got TLC. “The TLC team is now missing a huge piece,” but going forward we will always cherish and remember our "C.”

    Cindy chose cremation, and a Memorial Service may be held at a later date. 

    We are deeply saddened and pray for her daughter, Jessica Morgan in Athletics, the rest of her family and co-workers.    

  • Harvey Neufeldt

    A snapshot of Dr. NeufeldtDr. Harvey Neufeldt passed away on December 28, 2021, at the age of 85.

    After receiving his Ph.D. in history from Michigan State University, Harvey and his family moved to Cookeville, where he was a professor in the College of Education at Tennessee Tech for almost 40 years.

    Harvey was always an avid researcher and co-authored many books which not only delved into subjects that helped shape his life but also those that were deeply important to him such as educational equity, his Mennonite heritage and Tennessee Tech's institutional history. In honor of Tech's 75th anniversary in 1991, Harvey co-authored The Search for Identify: A History of Tennessee Technological University, 1915-1985 (Neufeldt & Dickinson, 1991).

    In lieu of flowers, the family invites friends of Harvey to make a contribution in his memory to the Neufeldt Electrical Engineering Scholarship or the Phi Delta Kappa Neufeldt Scholarship Endowment at Tennessee Tech.

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  • Vickie Madewell Rector

    A photo of Vickie Rector

    Vickie Leann Madewell Rector passed away on December 10, 2021. 

    A two time graduate of Tennessee Tech's College of Education, she taught school for almost three decades at Jere Whitson Elementary, touching the lives of "her kids" and helping make them better individuals.

    She never knew a stranger, choosing instead to enjoy a lengthy conversation with everyone she met. She loved any animal, domesticated or not. Her friends, both at work and outside of it, were a constant source of enjoyment and inspiration. Above all else, she loved her family deeply, spending her time making forever memories with them.

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  • Dennis R. Cebe

    A portrait of Dennis Cebe in a red sweatshirt on his boat.Dennis Robert Cebe, locally known as "T", was born in Louisville, Kentucky on January 3, 1939 to Raymond J and Virginia Gorman Cebe. On October 6th, 2021, at age 82, T succumbed to complications from COVID. He left behind in Reno, Nevada, his wife Marilynn, son Geoff Bueschen and granddaughter Joslynn and back East, his first wife Linda George and their children Laurie and Michael George along with numerous cousins etc. T's love for sports began in Louisville, known there as Denny, where he played quarterback for DuPont Manual High School. Graduating from there in 1957 he continued his athletics at Tennessee Technological University, the source of his nickname "T". The nickname came from the letterman's jacket and baseball cap he often wore when he first arrived west. T's love of all things sports and dogs, most particularly UNR Wolfpack, SF 49ers, SF Giants, golf and fishing and any one of many spoiled dogs, gave him lots to talk and brag about. The ultimate salesman with the gift of gab he will be greatly missed. In the spring, he will join his friend Bill Pair in Shasta Lake, their favorite fishing spot.

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  • Charles E. Hawkins

    A photo of a wreath on the bronze eagle statue at Walton House.Charles "Charlie" Hawkins graduated from the College of Business in 1953, having studied industrial management. He enjoyed a very successful sales career with IBM and later moved to Chattanooga, where he worked at Provident Insurance as vice president of human resources. The move back to Chattanooga provided more time for him to engage with the College of Business and TN Tech Athletics. Charlie was a long-time member of the College of Business Board of Trustees/Advisory Board, serving several times as president. Charlie's financial support for the College of Business established a scholarship endowment, funded an iCube internship, and renovated a classroom and the 2nd floor Peachtree Avenue entrance for Johnson Hall.    

    However, Charlie was best known for his love of eagles.  His house was full of eagles he had collected from all over the world. Over the years, Charlie made numerous campus visits, often bringing eagles from his private collection as gifts for university faculty and staff. Charlie was fond of saying, "there are two types of people at TN Tech, those with an eagle and those without an eagle." 
    Shortly after the death of his beloved wife Norma, he assisted the university with the acquisition of the eagle now residing at Walton House. TN Tech Athletics unveiled and dedicated an eagle in Tucker Stadium during one of his last campus visits.   The bronze eagle, commissioned by Charlie, is a replica of the eagle which sits atop Derryberry Hall. 

     Obituary and funeral arrangements

  • Larry D. McClanahan

    A portrait of Larry McClanahanLarry Duncan McClanahan, age 83, passed away on Friday, August 27, 2021.

    He was born on July 30, 1938, to the late, Ernest McClanahan and Anne McClanahan Hodges. He was a graduate of Gallatin High and graduated from Tennessee Tech University with his master’s degree in civil engineering.

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  • Stephen Ely Tabachnick

    A head shot of Stephen TabachnickStephen Ely Tabachnick, Ph.D. passed away on Saturday, October 9, 2021, at the age of 77. Professor Tabachnick served as chair of the Tennessee Tech English Department from 1985-1990 and was also a member of the Tennessee Philological Association. After his time at Tech, he went on to teach at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Memphis. During his time at the University of Memphis, he served as English department chair for eight years and professor of English until his retirement in 2020 (due to a diagnosis of ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease). 

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  • Richard P. Savage

    Portrait of Richard Savage

    Richard Preston Savage passed away September 29, 2021 at the age of 91.  He served 30 years on the faculty of Tennessee Tech in the Mathematics Department until his retirement in 1992. 

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  • William "Calvin" Dickinson

    A photo of Calvin Dickinson in a dress shirt with a red tie.

    Eternally youthful in attitude, infinitely curious about many things, and gracious to a fault, Dr. William Calvin Dickinson died peacefully at his home on Aug. 30, almost four months to the day after his wife Charlene shuffled off this mortal coil. The two of them lived life to the fullest; they loved to travel and to entertain.  

    Born on March 30, 1938, and raised in Atlanta, Texas, Calvin graduated with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Baylor and completed his doctorate at UNC Chapel Hill. He began his academic career as a scholar of English History and published his first book (based on his dissertation) on the career of Sidney Godolphin, the first Lord of the Treasury — and arguably the first Prime Minister of England — in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. He initially taught at Chowan College before moving to Cookeville in 1973.

    At Tech Calvin earned a reputation as a beloved lecturer, gifted scholar and mentor to his students. He earned the Outstanding Teaching Award among many other honors. Researching English history at Tech proved more difficult as the years passed and Calvin turned his attention to local history. Together with Homer Kemp of the English Department, they created the Upper Cumberland Institute to conduct research into the history and culture of the plateau region of Kentucky and Tennessee. The Institute provided resources for continued research and offered students the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, including architectural surveys of the region, interpretive material for state parks and local museums, and much more. Dickinson and Kemp worked together to add materials to enrich the TTU Archives. They produced a book based on the architectural surveys for the Tennessee Historical Commission entitled "Upper Cumberland Historic Architecture."

    As a scholar, Calvin published dozens of articles and books. In addition to his biography of Godolphin, Calvin wrote the history of Cumberland and Morgan counties in Tennessee. He and Dr. Larry Whiteaker published two anthologies devoted to Tennessee history, a volume on the Upper Cumberland entitled "Lend an Ear: Heritage of the Tennessee Upper Cumberland" and a book about the Civil War correspondence of Cornelius Tenure. Dickinson, Whiteaker and Dr. Kent Dollar published two books dedicated to the Civil War in Kentucky and Tennessee. With Eloise Hitchcock, Calvin published two book-length bibliographies; one devoted to the history of Tennessee and the other concerning the War of Spanish Succession. He worked with Jennie Ivey on two volumes of Tennessee history targeted at high school students and developed pedagogical tools to accompany them. Dickinson and Dr. Michael Birdwell edited two anthologies about the Upper Cumberland region (and had plans to write two more books on the region before his unexpected passing). Both of those books included scholarship by former students.

    One of Calvin’s last books was an investigation of the Walton Road, one of the oldest east-west thoroughfares in Tennessee. His interest in public history led Gov. Phil Bredesen to appoint Calvin to the Tennessee Historical Commission where he lent his expertise to statewide historic appreciation and preservation.  

    Dr. Dickinson was dedicated to the Cookeville community and supported local arts, the Bryan Symphony Orchestra, WCTE-TV, and was a founding member of the Friends of White Plains. He believed in community service and was an exemplar Rotarian, past president of that organization and a multiple Paul Harris Fellow. A faithful member of the Cookeville United Methodist Church, he enjoyed singing in the choir.    

    Calvin had a tremendous sense of humor and an infectious hearty laugh. He liked trekking through the Upper Cumberland “in search of history.” On numerous occasions he remarked, “Hey fellas, I wonder where this road goes.” More than once the roads were dead ends, but that did not matter. It was the company of friends and sense of adventure that amused him. Travel on my friend.

    by Michael Birdwell
    Originally published in the Herald-Citizen

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  • Curtiss Eugene Jolley

    A snapshot of Mr. Jolley in a plaid shirt.Curtiss Eugene Jolley passed away on Aug. 20, 2021 in Concord, Massachusetts. Curtiss was born on Nov. 29, 1929, in Spring City, Tennessee. He graduated from Spring City High School in 1949. While working for the Coca Cola Bottling Company of Rockwood, Tennessee, his National Guard unit was activated and he joined the U.S. Army, serving from September 1950 until his honorable discharge as a first lieutenant in August 1956. He completed The Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia, in December 1952 and married Katy Lou Womack of Spring City the same month. Following his Army Service, Curtiss attended Tennessee Tech University and graduated in 1957 with a degree in electrical engineering, becoming the first in his family to attend a university. He joined Du Pont de Nemours, Inc. after graduation and worked his entire career for Du Pont, working in Parkersburg, WV; Wilmington, Delaware; and in Massachusetts until his retirement in 1992.

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  • Donald "Don" Brooks Jackson

    A photo of Don Jackson

    What do Placido Domingo, the Vienna Boys' Choir, Brenda Lee and the London Symphony Orchestra have in common? Well, it's none other than Tennessee Tech University music education alumnus Don Jackson.

    Jackson studied conducting at TTU under James Wattenbarger and upon graduation became Hendersonville Junior High School's band director for 10 years. He then took a position with Iliad, a Nashville recording and music production studio. That opened the door to a job that extended to 2003, when Iliad moved to New York City. During his tenure at Iliad, Jackson conducted 48 major orchestral albums, all recorded in London with world-class orchestras: the London Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

    His Platinum album credits (sales of 1 million or more) include Victoria's Secret - Classics By Request (Volumes 1-5), Nutcracker Highlights, and Hallmark Christmas (Volumes 1 and 2). Volume 2 included recordings with Placido Domingo and the Vienna Boys' Choir. Jackson's Hallmark Christmas album with Tony Bennett released in 2003 was Bennett's first holiday album recorded in 35 years.

    As of 2003, only 13 true classical albums had sold more than 1 million units. Jackson conducted 8 of those albums.

    He has recorded or performed with a variety of pop, country and other artists over his career. Among them are Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Brenda Lee, Chubby Checker, Fats Domino, B.B. King, Jimmy Ruffin, Kenny Rogers, the Four Tops, The Temptations, Mary Wilson, Al Hirt, Bob Hope, pan-flutist Zamfir, Dolly Parton and Tony Bennett.

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  • James Slayden Love, Jr.

    A black and white headshot of James S. LoveJames Slayden Love passed away July 22, 2021 at the age of 96. He attended TPI from 1947-1949.


  • Jeffrey Lee Ray

    Jeffrey Lee Ray, `86 mechanical engineering and `89 M.S., passed away on July 26, 2021.

    Jeff grew up outside of Nashville, Tennessee, and earned a Journeyman Industrial Electrician license while working at R.R. Donnelley & Sons in Gallatin, Tennessee. He then earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering at Tennessee Tech University, and completed his doctorate in mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University. He served as Dean of Engineering at Western Carolina University since 2014. Throughout his 28-year academic career, he served in many roles with the ABET and ASEE organizations and was an ASEE Fellow.

  • Geraldine “Gerry” Tucker Fanning

    A portrait of Gerry and Joe Fanning.Joe Fanning shared this loving tribute about his wife Gerry Tucker Fanning, `62 human ecology, who passed away on Jan. 20, 2021:

    Gerry and I were married July 7, 1962, immediately after graduation. We had dated 7 years prior to that. We enjoyed a beautiful and wonderful happy marriage for 58 ½ years. She was able to attend her 50-year class reunion a few years ago. She treasured her time at Tech. She was a poor country girl whose family wasn’t really financially able to send her. There were many stories like that back then. Gerry had a work scholarship, and Gladys Crawford was her supervisor. She was very active in the Wesley Foundation and intramural women’s basketball. She was a devout Christian and taught Sunday School and was a church pianist for most of her adult life. She was also a middle school science and health teacher until we became parents. Then she became a full-time mother, housewife and volunteer. She was a devoted golfer and served on the board of directors of Riverbend Country Club in Shelbyville, Tennessee, including two terms as president. She directed the RBCC Ladies Invitational for 21 years. This year they renamed it the “Gerry Fanning Memorial Golf Tournament,” which was played May 13.

    Two of the accomplishments Gerry was proud of were serving as president to the Tennessee Methodist Women’s Organization for two terms and giving the commencement address at Martin Methodist College. Of course her greatest accomplishment, according to her, was being a good wife to me and mother to two wonderful sons, Wesley and Bret.

    July 7 will be a sad day for me as we celebrate our 59th wedding anniversary (her from heaven). Then on July 19th, she will celebrate her heavenly 81st birthday.

    She died on a Wednesday and was buried on Friday. Both boys live on our farm. On Sunday, when we returned from church, in a tree almost equal distance from our three houses there was a huge bald eagle sitting in a tree. We had never seen him before and haven’t seen him since. Some said that was Gerry, now our guardian angel, watching over us.

  • Frankie “Fran” Womack Perry

    A portrait of Frankie Womack Perry.PERRY, Frankie “Fran” Womack, age 81, of Winchester, passed away on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, at Alive Hospice in Murfreesboro. She was born on Sept. 25, 1939, in McMinnville, to the late Frank Lester Womack and Ora Belle Huntley Womack. She attended Tennessee Tech, Peabody College and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. For many years she was one of the best loved fourth grade teachers at Clark Memorial School. Fran was an avid reader, Franklin County Library Board member and a member of the Southern Tennessee Ladies Society. She loved her several bridge and book clubs and also enjoyed restoring and collecting antiques. She was an active member of Christ the King Anglican Church in Decherd. She is survived by her husband, Richard Truman Perry of Winchester; daughter, Margaret Michelle Perry (Bob) Hamilton of New Albany, Indiana; sons, Richard Bradley (Sue Anne Heins) Perry of Brentwood and Frank David (Sharon) Perry of Murfreesboro; grandchildren, William Paul Hamilton, Elizabeth Huntley Hamilton Farmer, Olivia Fran Perry, Richard Owen Perry, Leah Michelle Perry, Mary Margaret Guzik, Anne Thomas Guzik and Sarah Marie Heins Guzik. Visitation was held on Friday, May 14, 2021, from 5-8 pm at Moore-Cortner Funeral Home in Winchester. Funeral services were conducted on Saturday, May 15, 2021, at 10:30 a.m. at Christ the King Anglican Church with Father Bill Midgett officiating. Interment was in the Franklin Memorial Gardens in Winchester. Serving as pallbearers were: Steve Arnold, John Heins, Chad Morgan, Matt Carter, Joe Gipson, Robert Gipson, John Morris and Troy Cash. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to Christ the King Anglican Church Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 296, Winchester, TN 37398.

  • Hannah “Tommye” Schoolfield

    Hannah Tom Schoolfield (left) with her husband of 70 years, James

    HANNAH TOM (TOMMYE) ROBNETT SCHOOLFIELD  ’78 BS special education passed away on February 11, 2018.  After earning her degree, she served in Bledsoe County Schools (1980-1994) then later substituted at Taft Youth Center, a state school for juvenile offenders until her retirement. Tommye also served on the executive board of Green Valley Developmental Center in Greenville, Tennessee.

    Tommye’s teaching career was more than a job to her. Having a servant’s heart, she was seldom happier than when she was serving others. Besides helping the mentally disabled at various institutions, she found several local individuals not being served anywhere else and undertook to visit and see to their well-being. This included among others a family of disabled children who lived in the Nine Mile community in Bledsoe County and even a former high school classmate of one of her children. She discovered that this former classmate was disabled and wheel chair bound, and lived within walking distance of her home. She paid him regular visits, sometimes bringing  him pie or a cake. 

    For Tommye, her work was its own reward. Seeing others being helped in some way was satisfying to her, but  occasionally like all teachers, she saw signs that their work was actually life-changing. She often spoke of the time she and her husband James, “Jimmie” were shopping in Chattanooga, when she heard a familiar voice say, “Hello Miss Tommye”. They were delightfully surprised to learn the voice was from one of Tommye’s former students/inmates from Taft Youth Center. He thanked her for being his teacher and wanted her to know he was living a new life away from crime. What could be more encouraging than to learn that your efforts had changed the life of a student much less the life of a convicted criminal? 

    Other members of Tommye’s family with degrees from TTU include, two sisters (Elizabeth ‘51 history; Sue ’54 elementary education, ’73 MA elementary education), and two children (Rob ’77 BS music education; John ’81 BS chemical engineering, MA environmental engineering). Together Tommye and Jimmie had five children, seven grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.

    Pictured: Hannah Tom Schoolfield (left) with her husband of 70 years, James

  • Mary Etta Roaden

    A portrait of Mary Etta RoadenMary Etta Roaden, of Nashville, TN, passed away, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her. Her positive outlook on life, loving nature, and quick smile will always be a cherished memory.


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  • Lifting up generations: The legacy of Dr. Leo McGee

    A portrait of Dr. Leo McGee at a lecturn.

    Lifting up generations: The legacy of Dr. Leo McGee
    By Laura Clemons
    Originally published in the Herald-Citizen on April 2, 2021 

    It is no exaggeration to say that well before he retired from Tennessee Tech in 2007, Dr. Leo McGee had become the most distinguished and beloved administrator on campus. His wit was legendary. His grace and diplomacy taught by example; there are countless students, faculty and staff who are the beneficiaries of his mentoring.

    Dr. McGee would tell you that he, too, was the beneficiary of mentors who taught him how to excel in an academic setting throughout his 30 years at the university. But he would never have made it that far if not for his family, who taught him how to navigate an environment rarely favorable to African Americans.

    The son of Robert and Willie B. McGee, Leo was one of 10 children in a household reliant on low-income jobs in Crossett, a small rural town in Arkansas. Alongside his mother, he worked in the homes and yards of white people throughout his childhood. For a time, he worked in the cotton fields as well to make enough money to buy school clothes; he has said that his greatest ambition then was to out-chop even the most experienced men and women. 

    As a child and as a young man, Leo was the target of racism, facing the indignities of both personal prejudices and Jim Crow, the institutionalized form of racism prevalent in the South. He marched for racial equality in downtown Little Rock in 1962, joining thousands of other young people across the country demanding social and economic justice. There were times he feared for his life. 

    But what hurt more deeply than incidents aimed at him personally were the times, as a child, that he witnessed injustices suffered by his grandfather, Dan Lowe, the son of enslaved workers on an Arkansas plantation. Dan Lowe managed to survive by his wits, because he'd learned to gauge situations accurately, how to "read the tea leaves," as his grandson would say, when facing potential danger and escape, if not unscathed, then at least with his life.

    Leo McGee often said that his success was due almost entirely to that lesson. 

    In 1959, McGee enrolled at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, where he met the love of his life, Gloria, now also a retired Tennessee Tech faculty member. They moved north after graduation to Chicago, and from there, east for graduate studies at Ohio State, where Leo earned master's and doctoral degrees. He met a young administrator there, Arliss Roaden, who would influence the McGees' lives in ways they could only imagine. When Dr. Roaden left Ohio State for the presidency at Tennessee Tech, he kept after McGee to join him in Cookeville, and McGee -- now Dr. McGee -- finally said yes, heading back south, first to Tennessee State University from 1973 to 1977, then to Tennessee Tech. 

    Dr. McGee joined the Tennessee Tech faculty as assistant dean of extended services and associate professor of education. In 1986, he was promoted to assistant vice president for academic affairs, and then associate vice president, serving two years as interim vice president -- the rank second only to the president. Of all his professional achievements, he valued most the respect he felt from the faculty. Year after year, as faculty evaluated administrators, Dr. McGee's scores stayed at or near the top.

    No one worked harder or put in longer hours. He understood the absolute necessity of trying harder than the next guy if he wanted to excel. 

    "Most people can’t imagine what kind of mental gymnastics one has to go through in order to succeed in a situation where you’re very much the minority," he said. "How do you continue to grow professionally in an environment like that and coming from a meager background as we did? We simply never, never ever thought of giving up. I just never gave up. A person who didn’t have a newspaper or book in his home. Father couldn’t read. That I would be associate vice president emeritus and associate professor of education, published author ... who would have thunk it."

    He also understood that regardless of professional satisfaction, nothing will hold you up and give you a stronger foundation than family. He said that the single most important achievement of his life was being able to maintain a strong sense of family in a challenging environment.

    "I had to understand what it took to make me happy," he said. "It’s not the money, it’s about how successful I can be in the job and whether or not my family is going to be okay."

    Dr. McGee appreciated the value of asking for and offering help. Over the years, he helped steer the careers of his beloved daughters, Jennifer and Cassandra, and countless others in big ways and small -- knowing that while it's not possible to be sure of the impact, it's always worth the effort. In the past 10 years, he stayed in touch with a small group of young faculty and staff on campus in whom he saw potential. If he was ever boastful, it was about the men and women who "made good," who he was able to help professionally and personally -- knowing that because he had overcome, others could as well, with the right kind of support.

    "The key to success," he said, "is getting as many mentors as you can, and that comes from being able to get along with people, from being collegial. Those who think they can do it by themselves are probably not going to survive very long. You've got to have help from other people. I learned that from my grandfather teaching me how to negotiate situations during Jim Crow, that you can't stand alone."

    During his career, Dr. McGee published five scholarly books and, the closer he got to retirement, began to write and publish more personal essays and books. One of those was about the lessons learned from his grandfather Dan Lowe, who he called "Papa."

    "Papa had lots of stories and wisdom to pass on," Leo wrote. "He made me feel like a complete person, a dearly loved person, a person who was being coached and admonished at the same time about the dangers that lurked around the corner for a young Negro man in the South -- the habitat of that wicked beast, Jim Crow. Dan Lowe has been my hero for all these years. Heroes in our lives are individuals that stand high above the masses simply because of who they are. They have the unique ability to inspire us to pursue mountainous goals. I was fortunate enough to be at the side of my hero for many years."

    Men and women throughout this community and much farther afield have said precisely the same thing about Dr. Leo McGee. 

  • Dr. Carl Ventrice, Sr.

     A portrait of Carl Ventrice from the 60s, a snapshot of Marie and Carl with a birthday cake, a portrait of Carl Ventrice from the 2000's

    Dr. Carl A Ventrice, Sr. passed away on Sunday morning, December 27, 2020, at the age of 90. He had served as a faculty member at Tennessee Tech for over 45 years, retiring from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2011.

    He was born on August 7, 1930 in York, Pennsylvania. During his high school years, he had trained as a machinist, but soon realized after graduating from high school that it would be difficult to find a job in that field with so many men returning from service from World War II. Therefore, he decided to join the Navy in 1948 because he felt that this would give him a great opportunity to explore the world and learn a new profession. Since WWII had just ended, he believed that the chance of seeing any armed conflict would be low. He was trained as an electrician and the first ship he served on was the USS Chehalis, a tanker ship that supplied air fields in the Pacific theater. While off-loading aviation fuel in Samoa in 1949, his ship exploded, resulting in the loss of six of his fellow seamen. His next ship was a rocket vessel. While stationed in Japan, the Korean War broke out, and he ended up seeing service in the defense of the Pusan Perimeter, the Inchon Invasion, and the evacuation of the Chosin Reservoir. He was then assigned to a troop transport ship and was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1952. 

    Following his Navy service, he was hired as an electrician in his hometown of York, Pennsylvania. Shortly after he was hired, the GI Bill was extended to Korean War veterans. Although he had a well-paid secure job, he decided to attend college and was the first Korean War veteran to apply for the GI bill in York county. He started his undergraduate studies in electrical engineering at Pennsylvania State University in 1952. He obtained a B.S. degree in electrical engineering in 1956 and then went on to graduate school in physics at Penn State. The research for his M.S. degree was in the area of electromagnetic wave scattering from the Earth’s ionosphere. His research for his Ph.D. was in nuclear physics. Just after he started his Ph.D. research, the lab director informed all of the students that there would be cuts in the number of positions being funded due to a reduction in federal funding because President Eisenhower had decided to put a bigger emphasis on applied research over basic research.  Shortly after this, Sputnik was launched (October 1957), and the federal government made an abrupt change in funding priorities for research, prioritizing basic research over applied research. As a result of this, the nuclear physics lab at Penn State had more funding than they knew how to spend. Therefore, he no longer had to worry about his funding during the rest of his tenure as a graduate student. While studying at Penn State, he met his future wife, Marie Busck. The two were married on January 25, 1960. 

    As he was finishing his graduate studies, he began searching for a job. His dream job was to be a researcher at General Electric’s research center in Schenectady, New York, which was one of the top corporate research laboratories in the world at that time.  He landed an interview with them but did not hear back from them by the time that he graduated with his Ph.D. in December 1962.  Since his wife Marie was pregnant with their second child, he decided to accept a job offer from Analytic Services, which is a defense contractor in Washington, DC. About two weeks after starting this job, he got a job offer from GE, but since he had already started the job at Analytic Services, he declined the offer. Although the work at Analytic Services was interesting, it was not possible to publish his research since it was classified. In addition, he had developed a passion for teaching while he was a graduate student at Penn State.  While attending an American Physical Society meeting in 1964, he was recruited for a faculty position in the Physics Department at Tennessee Tech, which was known as Tennessee Polytechnic Institute at that time.  He started as a faculty member at Tech in the fall of 1964. During this time, his wife Marie studied to earn her B.S. degree in engineering science and mechanics. Although he enjoyed teaching in the Physics Department, the university did not have any Ph.D. programs at that time. Therefore, his research opportunities were limited at Tech. In 1966, he accepted a position as a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Auburn University. While at Auburn, his wife obtained an M.S. degree in mechanical engineering. In 1968, Tennessee Tech obtained approval from the State of Tennessee for a Ph.D. program in Engineering. Dr. Wallace Prescott, who was the Dean of Faculties at Tech at that time (and later became provost, and then president of Tech), contacted Dr. Ventrice to let him know of the new Ph.D. program and convinced him to return back to Tech. Dr. Ventrice returned to Cookeville in the summer of 1968 to become a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering. Shortly after returning to Tech, his wife Marie began her Ph.D. studies in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She graduated with the first Ph.D. degree awarded at Tennessee Tech in 1974 and then began as a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She eventually became the Associate Dean of Engineering.

    Dr. Ventrice had a very productive career at Tech, teaching electrical engineering and physics students and doing research in the areas of plasma science, laser technology, and electromagnetic field propagation and scattering. He was honored with Tennessee Tech’s Outstanding Faculty Award in Teaching and the Brown-Henderson Outstanding Engineering Faculty Award. During his tenure at Tech, he directed the research of over 30 graduate students.  At the age of 81, he decided to officially retire from Tennessee Tech because of he no longer had the stamina to teach a full load of classes.  He then continued to teach one class per semester as a service to the university until he had to stop teaching in 2013 because of failing health. He passed away on December 27, 2020.  He was preceded in death by his wife, who died from cancer in 2003.



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