News release from state Department of Veterans Affairs:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder somberly announced former Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner William H. (Dusty) Roden, Jr. passed away on July 20, 2013 at the Hospice Chattanooga Care Center. Commissioner Roden was 90 years old.
Roden served in the United States Army Air Corps as a fighter pilot from 1942 to1945 and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the United States Air Force Reserves in 1972.
Commissioner Roden was appointed by Governor Lamar Alexander in 1979 and remained TDVA Commissioner until 1987. In 1979, Roden founded the United Tennessee Veterans Association (UTVA) which was created to bring the state’s Veteran Service Organizations together to be briefed by leaders from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure accomplishments, concerns and developments impacting veterans would be shared with UTVA representatives. Commissioner Grinder recognized Roden for this milestone contribution during a UTVA meeting on December 4, 2012.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Rev. Will Campbell, a white minister who drew acclaim for his involvement in the civil rights movement, has died at the age of 88.
John Egerton, a close friend of Campbell’s for nearly 50 years, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Campbell died Monday night from complications following a stroke he had about two years ago. Egerton said he was contacted by Campbell’s son, who was at the minister’s bedside in Nashville when he died.
“He never really recovered from it,” Egerton said of the stroke.
Campbell was born in 1924 in Amite County, Miss.
After a stint in the military, he attended Yale, where he got a divinity degree in 1952 and then headed to Taylor, La., to preach at Taylor Southern Baptist Church.
He later came to Nashville, where he was described as a staunch leader for civil rights, and was well respected by others in the movement.
Walter Thomas Durham, Tennessee’s state historian for the past decade and author of 24 books on Tennessee history, died on Friday at the age of 88, reports The Tennessean. Mr. Durham, a longtime Gallatin businessman and a walking encyclopedia of Tennessee and Sumner County history, was appointed state historian in 2002 by then-Gov. Don Sundquist. He had already served as president of the Tennessee Historical Society, founding president of the Tennessee Heritage Alliance (renamed the Tennessee Preservation Trust) and chairman of the Tennessee Historical Commission.
“An awful lot of history passed with him,” said Kenneth Thomson, president of the Sumner County Historical Society, who knew Mr. Durham his whole life and helped him with one of his final projects. “And it’s a good thing he recorded it.”
Mr. Durham never made much money off his books, often giving them away to organizations that would benefit from them.
His award-winning books spanned a wide range of subjects: the Union Army’s occupation of Nashville during the Civil War, Tennesseans’ roles during westward expansion to California in the 1840s and the period before its statehood when Tennessee was part of the vast Southwest Territory.
…Mr. Durham, born Oct. 7, 1924, is survived by his wife of 64 years, Anna Armstrong Coile Durham, as well as four children, four grandchildren, a sister and a niece.
He attended the University of Wisconsin and Vanderbilt University. After graduation, he served in Africa and Italy with the Air Force during World War II.
He was a partner of Durham Building Supply Co. in Gallatin from 1948 to 1973 and was a founding president of Gallatin Aluminum Products Co.
William Logan “Dick” Barry, who served as speaker of the state House of Representatives in the 1960s and then executive assistant to Gov. Buford Ellington, has died in a Lexington nursing home at age 89, according to friends.
“Dick Barry’s death marks the end of an era,” said former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, who served in the state House while Barry was top aide to Ellington.
“He was a solid rock of integrity and a real historian,” said Ashe Thursday “State government was made better by his participation and leadership.”
State Rep. Steve McDaniel, R-Parkers Crossroads, said Barry died Wednesday evening at a Lexington nursing home, where he had resided in recent weeks after hospital treatment for an illness.
Barry, a lawyer who once served as publisher of the Lexington Progress newspaper, was elected to the state House in 1954 and became floor leader in 1958 and then in 1963 and with the support of Gov. Frank Clement was elected speaker. He served as speaker until 1967, when joined the Ellington administration and served until Democrat Ellington left office in January, 1971, with the inauguration of Republican Gov. Winfield Dunn.
An excerpt from the Chattanooga Times-Free Press story on the death of “Toby” McKenzie, who was once a multi-millionare thanks to the payday loan business — and while enjoying that status was often a generous donor to politicians and an employer of lobbyists at the Legislature: A basketball arena at UTC was named for him. Millions of his dollars went to local schools, charities, ball fields and individuals.
Steve “Toby” McKenzie, a Cleveland, Tenn., native who grew up poor, built a fortune pioneering the national check cashing and pay-day loan industry in the early 1990s. He invested millions in more than a hundred businesses and real estate speculations and then lost almost everything during the economic recession.
More than a year before McKenzie died Thursday from unknown causes, he pleaded with his hometown to help him fight an involuntary bankruptcy that he said left him penniless, unable even to afford needed medications.
He was 59 years old when he died in a Chattanooga hospital. He is survived by his wife, Rebecca McKenzie, his three children and two stepdaughters.
“Toby left a legacy of generous support for the community he loved,” said D. Gary Davis, Bradley County mayor. “He was a big supporter of education. … My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Toby will be missed.”
McKenzie’s fall from grace became a public saga.
In 2008, when his bankruptcy began, he was ordered by the court to make $11.5 million in lease payments on defaulted properties.
The next year he was at risk of losing his two homes, each worth more than half a million dollars, and his personal possessions were liquidated. In total, he owed more than $200 million to 40 creditors nationwide, records showed.
The University of Tennessee removed his name from an athletics building because he didn’t follow through with a financial pledge. His ex-wife, Brenda Lawson, paid a portion and the building was named for her instead.
Friends and family are remembering the life of Al Bodie, a former Tennessee Department of Labor commissioner, government affairs professional, and a mentor and leader to many in Nashville, who died last Friday following a battle with cancer, reports The Tennessean. He was 59.
Alphonso “Al” Romeo Bodie, the eldest of five children, was born Sept. 29, 1953 in Miami, Fla. He was schooled in Jamaica and at the University of Miami, where he starred on the football field and earned a degree in marketing.
After graduation, Bodie moved to Nashville and worked for IBM, where he worked in the Data Processing Division for 17 years. In 1993, Bodie founded the Nashville-based government relations firm Bodie & Associates Inc. He served as its CEO and board chairman.
Republican Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist in 1995 tapped Bodie to lead the state’s Department of Labor. In that role, Bodie is perhaps best known for his role in overhauling Tennessee’s workers’ compensation law.
“He was a very good commissioner and a strong leader,” said Sundquist, who talked to Bodie by phone two weeks ago. “He was a fighter up until the last few days.”
— Note: The legislature passed a memorializing resolution on Bodie, HERE.
The Tennessee Sports and Entertainment Industry Coalition, which lobbied for passage of the “Fairness in Ticketing Act (HB1000),” has thrown in the towel for 2013 in one of the 2013 session’s great lobbying wars.
From the Tennessean: After appearing to flounder recently under the weight of growing opposition from conservative leaders, a proposal to impose greater restrictions on the event ticket resale market died Wednesday in a House committee.
The bill’s author, state Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, said the measure suffered “some of the harshest” lobbying he had experienced, making it impossible to continue.
“They’ve done an excellent job maligning what the bill actually does and that’s just something I haven’t been able to overcome just yet,” Haynes said of the bill’s critics. Opposition has been led since last year by a Washington, D.C.-based consumer advocacy organization, but the army of dissenters swelled in recent weeks to include conservative leaders from throughout the state.
Haynes declined an offer by state Rep. Art Swann, R-Maryville, to send the bill to a summer study committee and said he hoped to present it again next year.
“Around here everybody really knows a summer study committee is a way to dispense with a bill and just never have it dealt with again,” Haynes said. “And I think we do need to deal with this issue.”
A bill to ban “mountaintop removal” coal mining in Tennessee was killed for the sixth consecutive year Wednesday without any discussion in the Senate but with an impassioned exchange in a House committee.
“Tennessee should be a leader in protecting our mountain way of life, not for sale to the highest bidder,” Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, told the House Agriculture Subcommittee after acknowledging the bill (HB43) was dead for the year.
Johnson also said that as surface coal mining has increased in Tennessee, “We’ve watched our mining jobs plummet and our miners be replaced by machines.” And she referred to reports that a Chinese company has a major interest in a Campbell County mining company.
“As reported in today’s Wall Street Journal, Tennessee has also become the first state in America to permit a Chinese company to blast apart our mountains and take our coal. Not only are the eyes of Tennessee on us, but the world is watching,” she said.
Officially, the bill was deferred until 2014 in the House panel after being killed without a vote in the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee earlier in the day. But Johnson was allowed to speak on it and her remarks brought a rejoinder from Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Rep. Curtis Johnson is presiding over the Tennesee House while Speaker Beth Harwell is away to attend to her mother’s funeral.
Harwell, a Nashville Republican, left for Spring City, Pa., on Wednesday. Her mother, Jessie Halteman, was 97.
Harwell’s staff expects her to return next week.
Johnson, a Clarksville Republican, was elected as speaker pro tempore before this year’s session began.
From The Tennessean: Charles Galbreath, an appeals judge, state legislator and defender of the downtrodden who was widely regarded as one of the most flamboyant power brokers of his generation, died Tuesday at his home in Nashville.
He was 88.
Mr. Galbreath, who went by Charlie, had been ill with Alzheimer’s disease and recently developed pneumonia, Joyce Galbreath, his wife of 63 years, said Thursday.
A Nashville native and the son of a man who owned a chain of grocery stores, Mr. Galbreath had aspirations in theater that preceded his storied legal and political career. In the 1940s, he studied drama at Carnegie Hall in New York before attending Cumberland University of Law. Throughout his career, he blended the stage and the gavel — often to the chagrin of colleagues and opponents alike.
A 1968 Tennessean profile, written before he was elected to the state Court of Criminal Appeals, described Mr. Galbreath as a “loud, elusive enigma” and said he “has always made the legal profession a little nervous.”
He performed weddings in oddball places, including on a Ferris wheel and in a bar.
Although his theatrics often garnered more attention than his accomplishments, many said Mr. Galbreath’s contributions to the state’s judicial system were substantial. They began when he served as a state legislator from 1960 until his election to the bench. He switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party before he sought the appeals court seat.
…Perhaps most notably, Mr. Galbreath in 1963 pushed a bill in the legislature that created the state’s public defender post. He then became Tennessee’s first public defender.
…His notoriety reached its peak in the mid-1970s, when Mr. Galbreath, a sitting Court of Criminal Appeals judge, wrote a letter to the editor of Hustler (he was a close friend of Larry Flynt, the pornographic magazine’s publisher) that said a certain sex act was still considered “unnatural and illegal” in some states. The letter, which used gutter slang that shocked and appalled the state’s legal establishment, reverberated for years among Tennessee lawyers.
…Mr. Galbreath also made headlines after being arrested for jaywalking in Columbus, Ohio, and for selling Cuban cigars out of his law office.