April 14, 2024

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Remembering notable Chattanooga-area residents who died in 2020

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



— Phyllis Casavant, former executive director of FACES, director of the Southeast Tennessee Area Agency on Aging and deputy director of the Southeast Tennessee Development District, died Dec. 25, 2019. She also had served as development director for the Moccasin Bend Girl Scout Council.

— W. Lloyd Stanley, a former president of the Chattanooga Bar Association and Chattanooga Federal Bar Association, died Dec. 25, 2019. He also had been a member (including chairman) of the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority for more than 17 years and president of the Hamilton County chapter of the University of Tennessee Alumni Association.

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Cooper: Remembering Chattanooga-area residents who died in 2020



— James Kennedy, who rose from secretary/treasurer of Cherokee Warehouse in 1950 to chairman emeritus of Kenco Group, died Feb. 4. The namesake of Kennedy Children’s Outpatient Center at Erlanger, he also had been board president/campaign chairman for United Way of Greater Chattanooga and board chairman of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

— Walter Forbes, a territorial salesman for Signal Thread Co., where he designed an industry breakthrough continuous filament polyester thread, died Feb. 27. Instrumental in establishing the AIM Center, he also recorded two RCA albums, performed at the Grand Ole Opry and produced a documentary film on The Dismembered Tennesseans.



— Chris Townley, solicitor general of Walker County State Court and a member of the State Bar of Georgia Board of Governors, died March 6. A former member of the district attorney’s staff for the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit and former private practice attorney, he was awarded the Georgia Bar’s 2018-2019 Chief Justice Thomas O. Marshall Professionalism Award.

— Herschel Franks, retired judge of the Tennessee Court of Appeals (at the time the longest serving in history), died March 19. He also had been a Hamilton County Chancery Court judge and president of the Chattanooga Bar Association.

— Bernard Gloster, mayor of Lakesite for 12 years, died March 26. He also had been vice mayor of the town, where he had been involved in the construction of its new city hall, and deputy chief of the Chattanooga Police Department.

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Richard Casavant / Staff file photo

— Richard Casavant, a former Hamilton County commissioner (1998-2010) and dean of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga college of business, died March 31. He also had spent six years on the Signal Mountain Town Council.



— Sullivan Ruff, teacher or principal at Chattanooga, Riverside and Howard high schools and Avondale and Hardy elementary schools, died April 2. He also taught at the former Chattanooga City College and had been president of the Washington Hills Neighborhood Association.

— Gary Andrews, judge for the Georgia Court of Appeals (1990-2018) and Georgia public service commissioner (1985-1990), died April 4. He also had been a superior court judge, Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit (1980-1985), and a former Georgia assistant attorney general.



— Marty Landis, who founded Chattanooga Habitat for Humanity, died May 2. She also had directed Northside Neighborhood House, worked with Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise and Chattanooga Venture, and served in the Peace Corps.

— Iris Sesko, the first woman registered as a professional land surveyor in Tennessee and the 1994 Chattanooga Engineer of the Year, died May 2. An inductee in the Chattanooga Public Works Hall of Fame, she organized and led the local chapter of the Tennessee Association of Professional Surveyors and was the first woman general chairman of Chattanooga Engineers Week.

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Arnold Stulce

— Arnold Stulce, a four-term Tennessee state representative, died May 7. He also had been a member of the Hamilton County Board of Education, the Soddy-Daisy Board of Commissioners, and the former Red Bank Hospital board, and helped found the Red Bank and Soddy-Daisy Charitable Foundation.

— George Wagner, mayor of Dunlap from 1971-1981 and 1993-2009, died May 17. He had been the Dunlap town recorder from 1969-1971 and built the first drive-in restaurant in the Sequatchie Valley. A diverse businessman, he also had owned and operated the Tims Ford Marina in Tullahoma.

— David Norton, a former Hamilton County Sessions Court judge, died May 21. He also had been the Soddy-Daisy city judge from 1984 to 2012, an assistant Hamilton County attorney 1983-2012 and chairman of the Utility Management Review Board for the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury’s office.

— Sid Hetzler, the first president of Friends of the Festival, which spawned the Riverbend Festival, died May 29. Operator of a food brokerage business for 45-plus years, he had been the first head of the burgeoning communications department at UTC and press liaison for former Chattanooga Mayor Robert Kirk Walker.



— Jack and Jim Frost, brothers who co-founded the Frost and Frost accounting firm, died June 19 and Dec. 25, respectively. Jack Frost went on to be chairman of the board for Tuftco Corp., Trade Finance International Inc., Mitchell Industrial Tire Co. and Management Strategies Inc. He was inducted into the UTC Business Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. Jim remained the managing partner of the accounting firm and was a certified public accountant for more than 50 years. Active in several civic clubs, he also established a scholarship at UTC in 1986 to be given annually to the top accounting student.

— Vivian Woods, principal of Mowbray, Bachman, Soddy and Snow Hill elementary schools, died June 23. A former Hamilton County Principal of the Year and finalist for Tennessee Principal of the Year, she had been supervisor for grades 4-6 in the county schools and a finalist for NASA’s first Teacher in Space program.



— Dr. Charles Foreman, who had been president of the local Kappa Foundation and had been a planner for the Hamilton County Minority Health Fair, died July 4. Prior to living in Chattanooga, he had been an Army flight surgeon, chief of obstetrics and gynecology for a Kentucky hospital and retired as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Ready Reserve.

— Roy Parrish Jr., who served for 24 years as a Walker County (Georgia) commissioner, died July 7. He also had been a member of the Chickamauga, Georgia, City Council and had been Chickamauga city manager.

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Bob Johnson

— Bob Johnson, news anchor for WTVC-TV for 32 years, died July 13. A member of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame, he had developed and produced the station’s popular “Wednesday’s Child” segment.

— Andrew Cope, former president of The Tucker Foundation and executive chairman of The Krystal Co. and of Metal Tek International, died July 27. He also had a career in banking, rising to bank director and board vice chairman of American National Bank (later SunTrust). He also had been on the boards of Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and Allied Arts.

— B. Allen Casey, original developer of the popular Chattanooga Choo Choo resort, died July 30. He raised some $2 million to open the former Terminal (railroad) Station as a hotel, restaurant, convention and tourist complex in 1973. Later, he sought for years without success to develop a nine-acre parcel off Manufacturer’s Road on the Tennessee River.



— Dr. Dennis Stohler, an orthopedic surgeon who was chief of staff at Memorial Hospital and chairman of its board of directors, died Aug. 11. He also had served as chairman of the St. Barnabas Healthcare Center board, as president of Hamilton Place Rotary Club, and on the boards of the Chattanooga Speech and Hearing Center and NHC HealthCare Chattanooga.

— Kathryn Arnold, director of the Chattanooga Public Library for 20 years and a member of its staff for 38 years, died Aug. 17. During her tenure, she grew success of its bookmobiles in the 1960s and 1970s and coordinated the building of the facility in its present Broad Street location in the mid-1970s.



— Bettye Parker, one of the city’s first women Realtors and owner of Bettye Parker Realty, died Sept. 22. She also helped form and was president of the local chapter of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge and was the founder and former president of the Highway 58 Chamber of Commerce and of the Scenic City Women’s Civitan Club (the first for women only).

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In this 2001 staff file photo, Dr. Jane Harbaugh sits outside of Race Hall Thursday on the UTC campus. / Staff file photo

— Jane Harbaugh, the first woman dean at UTC, died Sept. 27. Serving at the school from 1957 to 2001, she had been head of its history department, vice chancellor for academic affairs and associate provost for undergraduate and special programs.

— Dr. Pe Than Tin, a Chattanooga ophthalmologist and eye surgeon who was a fellow in the American College of Surgeons, died Sept. 14. He also had been an instructor for 27 years in a local university-related ophthalmology program and had been honored for more than 50 years of medical service by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society.



— Sam Campbell, a former president and chairman of the board of Chattanooga Bakery, died Oct. 8. Through the years, he also founded or managed Brownie Specialty Products, Sportsman’s Dens, Signal Smelting and Refining Co., and Professional Aviation. He also had been a trustee for Bright School, McCallie School and the Chambliss Center for Children.

— Arvin Reingold, a colorful Chattanooga attorney for some 60 years, died Oct. 18. A onetime Tennessee state legislator, he was municipal judge for East Ridge for many years and had been a Korean War veteran.

— William Buchanan, who spent his career at Volunteer Energy Cooperative and rose to become its CEO/president, died Oct. 31. While there, he served as president of the board of trustees of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. He also served as mayor of Decatur from 1975 to 1983 and as a board member of United Way of McMinn and Meigs County.



— Corinne Allen, who served as executive director of the Benwood Foundation and led it to shift its approach in Chattanooga to focus on education, arts and culture, the environment and community development, died Nov 9. While here, she also served as secretary of the board for CHI Memorial Hospital and was recognized as a Chattanooga Woman of Distinction and as Community Leader of the Year by the Tennessee Network of Community Organizations.

— Cartter Frierson, whose career was spent in the information technology field and who had been president of the nation’s leading association of small consultancies, died Nov. 26. He’d also been on the boards of Goodwill, Girls Preparatory School, YMCA, Memorial Hospital, Memorial Foundation, Siskin Foundation, Salvation Army and been the founding treasurer of Chattanooga Hospice.

— Phillip Street, the five-time elected sheriff of Dade County, Georgia, died Nov. 27. A onetime volunteer firefighter, he rose to also be a captain for the Walker County Detention Center and serve on the board of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force.



— Dr. Nat Swann, a former chief of staff of Downtown General Hospital who served on the staffs of Erlanger, Memorial and Parkridge hospitals, died Dec. 3. A fellow in the Royal Society of Medicine and the American College of Physicians, he also served on the boards of the Metropolitan Council, Salvation Army, Mountain City Club and Rotary Club.

— Frank Kinser, owner and president of East Brainerd Lumber Co., died Dec. 4. In community service, he had been a member of the University of Tennessee Board of Governors and its Board of Trustees, chairman of the UTC Chancellor’s Roundtable, president of the UT/Hamilton County Alumni Association, chairman of construction for UTC’s Finley Stadium and president of its stadium board.

— Compiled by staff writer Clint Cooper

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