Tag Archives: tribute

Tributes to Lois DeBerry

Here are some comments on the passing of state Rep. Lois DeBerry:

From House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh:

“I have known Lois DeBerry since 1974 when I was first elected to the House of Representatives. She had been elected just two years earlier and we were best friends from the very beginning. 

“Lois is a true Tennessee stateswoman. In the Legislature she led the way on a number of issues important to all Tennesseans including healthcare, education, corrections oversight, and economic development. The Lois DeBerry Center in Nashville, named after her, revolutionized the way we dealt with our incarcerated population and she deserves much of the credit for bringing our prison system out from under federal oversight and into the 21st century.  

She served with, worked with and provided advice not only to legislators but also to seven Tennessee Governors including Governors Haslam, Bredesen, Sundquist, McWherter, Alexander, Blanton and Dunn.  They all respected her opinion and listened closely to her advice.   

During my 18 years as Speaker of the House, Lois served as Speaker Pro Tempore–the first African American woman to fill this role. She was my constant helpmate and someone I could count on during those difficult days in the legislature. In 2000, the National Conference of State Legislators recognized Lois with the William Bulger Award for Legislative Leadership. This prestigious prize is given to one legislator each year who promotes the good of legislative institutions by displaying real leadership qualities, including honesty, integrity and hard work. That was the Lois we all knew. 

 Lois loved this state. She loved the people of this state.  She was the voice for people all across this state, who could not speak out for themselves in our governmental process; the poor, the oppressed, the proverbial people standing in the shadows of life.   She rebuffed repeated calls to run for higher office. In 1994 she even turned down a prestigious federal appointment from President Clinton, telling him that her work in Tennessee was simply not finished. 

I will miss Lois DeBerry. I will miss sitting with her on the floor of the House Chamber. I will miss her laughter and her great sense of humor that I saw so often in our daily discussions. I will miss her example and her leadership for our state. But most of all, I will miss my best friend.”

From House Speaker Beth Harwell:

“Lois DeBerry dedicated her life to service. From the Civil Rights Movement, to becoming the first female African-American Speaker Pro Tempore, Lois always made public service a priority. The impact she has had on this great state, the lives of countless Tennesseans, and people all across the country is astounding. She certainly made her mark on history, and it was an honor to know her and serve alongside her in Tennessee General Assembly. I valued our friendship, and will deeply miss her sage advice, and her remarkable sprit and smile. Her dedication to children’s issues, women’s issues, and criminal justice reform have resulted in a better Tennessee. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

From House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh:

“Lois DeBerry was my friend and my mentor. From my first day on the hill in 1994, she was someone I could turn to in every situation. She taught me the importance of working across party lines to get things done for the state, but also to never be afraid to stand up for a cause–even if sometimes you stand alone. Lois was a fighter. She always fought and fought hardest for children. She fought for those on the margins of society and for the city of Memphis which she loved so dearly. Most recently she waged a courageous battle against cancer, inspiring everyone with her upbeat attitude and her determination to survive. I loved Lois DeBerry. Her absence will leave a hole in the House that no one can fill; we are a better state for the service she provided. God rest her soul and be with her family during this difficult time.”

From Gov. Bill Haslam:

Coming in as a new governor, Lois quickly became one of my favorite people on Capitol Hill because of her wit, charm and dedication to her constituents. Lois was a history maker, a wonderful woman, a great legislator and a true friend. I will miss her.”

From Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron:

“Speaker Lois DeBerry was one of America’s Heroes and one of God’s Saints. “So many of us owe her so much. Speaker DeBerry led, she inspired, she witnessed with a spirit filled with The Spirit.
“Much will be said in the days ahead. Not enough can be said. We mourn her passing and celebrate her life.”
From U.S. Sen. Bob Corker:
“Lois DeBerry will be remembered as a tireless advocate for her community, and as one of the longest-serving women lawmakers in the nation and the first African-American female speaker pro tempore in the House, Lois’ legacy will be remembered in Memphis and across our state for generations to come,” said Corker. “I appreciate her many years of public service and her friendship and kindness. My heart goes out to her family during this difficult time.”
From Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle:
“Lois DeBerry was a peerless leader for her community, her city and for all women. It’s a uniquely American story – a woman who became frustrated with the conditions in her community and dedicated her life to making it better, rising to heights that no African American woman had seen before in Tennessee. We are deeply saddened by her passing.”
From Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney:
“Before I ever ran for office, I was motivated and inspired by the leadership of Lois DeBerry. She intentionally focused on tough issues, daring others to join her, and by her words could inspire people to take action and get involved. Tennessee has lost a great leader today.”
From House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick:
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Speaker Pro Tempore Emeritus Lois DeBerry, a legendary figure in Tennessee political history. I had the distinct privilege to serve with Lois in the House of Representatives for 9 years and I enjoyed our friendship. Her knowledge, experience and delightful personality will surely be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time.”
Former Gov. Phil Bredesen (via CA story, HERE)
“Forget Democrat. Forget African-American. Forget state legislator. Lois is one of the individuals I trust the most for her counsel and advice,”
 

Seven Slain TN Soldiers Honored in Memorial Day Tribute

News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam joined Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and Command Sergeant Major George Holland of the Tennessee Military Department to pay tribute to seven Tennesseans killed in action, including two soldiers previously missing in action for several decades.
Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Carson Vaughn of Troy was killed in a helicopter crash with 29 other Americans including 22 Navy SEALs in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. Grandparents Billy Sr. and Geneva Vaughn accepted the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of their grandson.
Lance Corporal Franklin Namon Watson of Vonore was killed while conducting combat operations in Helmand, Afghanistan on September 24, 2011. THP Sergeant Lowell Russell accepted the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal and the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of LCpl Watson. Since the age of 12, Sgt. Russell cared for Watson as his guardian and next of kin.
Specialist Marvin Phillips of Palmer was killed in a helicopter crash in Vietnam caused by small arms fire on September 26, 1966. Phillips body was not recovered until 2010 and he was positively identified in 2011. Phillips was laid to rest on September 26, 2011. James Earl Phillips accepted the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of his brother.
Captain Joshua Sean Lawrence of Nashville was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his unit in Kandahar province, Afghanistan on October 8, 2011. Lawrence has posthumously been awarded the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal. Grandparents Glespie and Arthenia Noman received the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of their grandson.
Sergeant First Class Dennis Murray of Red Boiling Springs was killed by an improvised explosive device on November 21, 2011 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Murray has posthumously been awarded the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal. Wanda Maxey received the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of her son.
Private First Class Frank Primm Jennings of Parsons went missing in South Korea on April 25, 1951. Jennings’ remains were not returned to Decaturville until April 14, 2012. Dr. William Jennings received the state’s presentation on behalf of his brother.
Specialist Jason Edens was critically injured during an enemy attack on his unit in Laghman province in Afghanistan on April 15, 2012. On April 26, 2012, Edens died from his injuries in Bethesda, Maryland with his family by his side. Edens was posthumously awarded the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal. Ashley Edens received the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of her husband.

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Jackson Day Focused on Tribute to Ned McWherter

Former Gov. Ned McWherter’s place in Tennessee history was the focus of the 2011 Jackson Day fundraiser for the state Democratic party, as Chas Sisk reported.
Gathering on a cool October evening under a massive tent on Bicentennial Capitol Mall, about 700 Democratic party supporters turned out to pay tribute to McWherter, a West Tennessee farm boy who helped lead a generation of centrist Southern Democrats that also included President Bill Clinton and Texas Gov. Ann Richards. McWherter died April 4.
“He saw out beyond where he was to where he was going,” said Chip Forrester, the Tennessee Democratic Party chairman. “This is really why we are here tonight, to honor a man who really created the most loving and powerful Democratic family this state has ever seen.”
Tickets for the event were $75 for individuals, while group rates varied. Brandon Puttbrese, a party spokesman, could not say Saturday how much the event would raise for the party.
Speakers included Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and former Tennessean editor and publisher John Seigenthaler.
“Now more than ever, those of us that are elected officials need to focus on the importance of community,” Dean said. “That was certainly the motivation behind everything Gov. McWherter did.”

For more details, see Mike Morrow’s full TNReport, which includes videos of several speakers.

Nathan Bedford Forrest Honored & Reviled

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Gray-uniformed soldier re-enactors fired long-barreled muskets in salute and United Daughters of the Confederacy in ankle-length dresses set wreaths before the towering statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest in Memphis, paying tribute to a Confederate cavalryman whose exploits still divide Americans today.
The annual tribute Sunday to the hard-driving Confederate lieutenant general coincided this year with the 190th anniversary of his July 13 birth and the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, where he achieved his greatest success — and lasting notoriety.
The celebration in downtown Memphis at Forrest’s burial site signaled that the cult of personality remains alive among the admirers of Forrest, a slave trader and cotton farmer whose deeds during and after the war still prompt division against those detractors who have deemed him a virulent racist.
“He’s a polarizing figure,” said Ed Frank, a University of Memphis historian whose great-grandfather served under Forrest. “He was a man of considerable accomplishment, but also a very rough and a very hard person.”

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Naifeh, DeBerry Lead House in Tribute to McWherter

Former House Speaker Pro Tempore Lois DeBerry, D-Memphis, and House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh gave brief eulogies on Ned McWherter at the outset of Monday night House floor proceedings and led representatives in a moment of silent prayer.
Naifeh said he and DeBerry spoke with McWherter every Sunday as a matter of custom and always found him “upbeat,” even as his cancer worsened and spread “all over his body.”
Naifeh said that, according to Mike McWherter, the former governor suffered a fall on Saturday that “aggravated his spinal cancer” and sent him to the hospital. He seemed to be rallying Monday morning, Naifeh said, and Mike McWherter had arranged for a hospital bed so that he could be transported back to his home.
But as Mike was going to get the bed, Naifeh said, he got a call from the doctor saying Ned McWherter’s condition had suddenly worsened. Mike returned to the hospital and was there when his father passed away.
“He had a living will, so obviously it was not delayed,” said Naifeh.
“He was my mentor, he was my speaker, he was my governor and he was my very, very dear friend,” said Naifeh.
He also repeated one of McWherter’s frequent sayings, attributed to an old fellow McWherter met while campaigning for governor. McWherter might become famous, the old man said, “but the crowd at your funeral is going to depend on the weather that day.”
DeBerry, who was serving in the House when McWherter was speaker (Naifeh, too), said the former governor “was sometimes like a brother and sometimes like a father.”
“Today we lost one of our giants. Gov. Ned Ray McWherter has gone to glory,” DeBerry said.
She also repeated an oft-heard McWherter saying, which the former governor attributed to the late U.S. Congressman “Fats” Everett: “If you don’t want to work, you ought not hire out.”