Artsclamation! ’22 rocked it!

Knoxville artist Kara Lockmiller with her portraits of The Beatles. They were offered last weekend at Artsclamation! as a set — you couldn’t buy just one! Believe me, if we had the wall space, they’d be in our condo today! My husband and I both loved them. Lockmiller is a chromesthete: she sees colors when she listens to music!

Artsclamation! is the primary fundraiser for Peninsula, a non-profit mental health facility operated by Covenant Health. It provides in-patient and out-patient services to children, adolescents and adults.

Held the first weekend in December, Artsclamation! also is a good landmark for the start of the holiday season. It’s a great party, too! Continue reading

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Lynne Fugate kicks off City Council re-election race with politically diverse support — and fun!

Lynn Fugate, left, with Knox County Commission Chair Courtney Durrett.

If you stepped into the bright and noisy rooftop lounge at the downtown Hyatt Place hotel last night, you might have known you were at a political event — if only by the number of politicians present. But you would not have known the political persuasion of the candidate — Lynne Fugate, who is seeking re-election to her at-large seat on Knoxville City Council.

This is how it should be. City races are non-partisan. And Fugate is held in high esteem by prominent members of both parties, as evidenced by the names on her host committee.

You didn’t see red colors dominating the décor, the symbol of the Republican Party. Nor did you see Democratic party blue anywhere. Fugate has chosen green as her campaign’s official color. Not only is it politically neutral, but it also is the trademark color of her employer, Girl Scouts of the USA, where she serves as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians, which spans three states and 46 counties.

“Lynne does the right thing,” said former Knoxville Vice Mayor Finbarr Saunders in introducing her. “She always thinks of the citizens of Knoxville when she makes her decisions.” Saunders is a popular Democrat who has served on Knox County Commission, as well as City Council and numerous other civic organizations. Continue reading

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Eating, drinking, dancing and saving animal lives!

Jerry Kruse, owner of The Pour Guys bartending service, visits with a cute canine guest.

Talk about a successful — and fun! — charity event. Cause for Paws, the signature fundraiser for Young-Williams Animal Center, had it all: a beautiful venue, creative decorations, great food and drink, music, dancing, a SHORT auction — and animals! This was the eighth year for the party, which this year raised more than $125,000 for the official animal shelter of Knoxville and Knox County.

The focus of this year’s event was funding the organization’s Animal Compassion Fund, which provides money to pay to treat animals with medical conditions or behavioral problems that would otherwise cause them to be unadoptable.

The Compassion Fund pays for medical equipment and treatment as well as providing foster homes for the pets while they heal. Once restored to health, these special animals can be placed on Young-Williams’ adoption floor to find their new forever homes.

Cause for Paws was held at the Knoxville Museum of Art and it was a beautiful evening which allowed guests to mingle on the inside and outside of the pink marble landmark. Continue reading

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East Tennesseans of the Year: Jenny and Randy Boyd

Congressman Tim Burchett, right, with Randy and Jenny Boyd.

It was a beautiful evening at Cherokee Country Club for the recent induction of Jenny and Randy Boyd as East Tennesseans of the Year by the East Tennessee Historical Society. The annual event, honoring notable individuals from East Tennessee, has become such a popular fundraiser that it immediately sells out every year — even before invitations are issued. And that’s at $500 per ticket!

Jenny and Randy Boyd were the first couple to have received the honor together. Past honorees have included former Knoxville Mayor and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; Jack Hanna, known as “America’s Favorite Zookeeper;” Roy Kramer, retired Southeastern Conference commissioner; Pete DeBusk, chairman of DeRoyal Industries and chair of the board of Lincoln Memorial University; philanthropist Natalie Haslam; retired University of Tennessee Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer; and former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, who also served as UT president, U.S. senator and U.S. Secretary of Education.

Jenny and Randy Boyd, married for 37 years, operate as a team. Randy is president of the University of Tennessee, where he takes no salary, and is the founder of Radio Systems Corporation in Knoxville, Boyd Sports and tnAchieves. Radio Systems sells more than 4,000 pet-related products, including the Invisible Fence, and employs more than 700 people with nearly $500 million in annual sales in over 60 countries. Continue reading

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Phyllis Nichols retires on top of her game

Phyllis Y. Nichols, right, with Knoxville City Council member and Urban League board member Gwen McKenzie at a reception prior to the Urban League Gala last week. McKenzie’s father was the first president and CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League.

It’s been a big couple of weeks for Phyllis Y. Nichols, the longtime president and CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League. Nichols, who announced last June that she would retire in the fall, has been the longest-serving CEO of the five leaders in the organization’s 54-year history in Knoxville.

In December, she will officially turn over the reins to Rev. Charles Lomax, who will take over after serving for three years as the City of Knoxville’s director of community empowerment. He was selected after a nationwide search. The decision by the Urban League’s board of directors to hire him was unanimous.

Last week, during the Urban League’s annual fundraising gala, which attracted over 800 attendees to the Knoxville Convention Center, Nichols took a final bow and was surprised by the announcement that the Urban League would endow a $250,000 scholarship in her name. She also received the Whitney M. Young Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award, the most prestigious of all Urban League awards.

And, just when it seemed that things couldn’t get any better, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott announced that she was donating $1.5 million to the Knoxville Area Urban League, the largest gift in its history.

Nichols will stay on a short while as a consultant to help with the transition, but we understand that travel plans are being made. Continue reading

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Leadership Knoxville success story tastes great!

Lynne Fain and Bo Townsend, members of the Leadership Knoxville Class of ’93, posed together at the annual class party on Sunday in downtown Knoxville.

When you hear about Leadership Knoxville, you always hear about building relationships. In fact, part of the mission statement says the organization is designed to “expand community connections into lifetime friendships.” Well, in the case of the Leadership Knoxville Class of ’93, it has worked out pretty well.

The Class of ’93, of which I am a member, gathered for the 28th time this past weekend for its annual fall party. The only two years we’ve missed were 2020 and 2021. For obvious reasons.

“Everything Leadership Knoxville aims to do is focused on the ‘art of gathering’ and the Class of 1993 has mastered it!” said Tammy White, Leadership Knoxville’s president and CEO. “It’s incredible that they held their 28th class party on Sunday and only missed two years due to the pandemic. We hope more LK classes take their lead to come back together.”

Leadership Knoxville was founded in 1984 and, since that time, more than 1,300 community leaders in the business, government and non-profit sectors have completed the 10-month flagship program. Continue reading

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‘Mozart in the Garden:’ magical in many ways

Children dancing to Mozart at the Knoxville Botanical Garden last Thursday.

“Mozart in the Garden,” a free evening of music by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra held at four locations in the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum, was an almost magical experience last week.

Quartets each played two sets in three locations — the Stone Terraces, the Martha H. Ashe Garden and the Stone Greenhouse. The evening concluded with the entire orchestra performing in the Dogwood Center where some audience members were seated inside and many others set up chairs outside and listened as the music wafted out the open doors.

The timing allowed guests to wander from location to location for the first hour, experiencing some of the greatest music of Western civilization in various lovely settings. Continue reading

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Green Thumb Gala: a blend of music, art and fun!

What’s better than a saxophone? Two saxophones! That’s what Marcel Holman proved during the recent Green Thumb Gala fundraiser for the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum.

The Green Thumb Gala, in its 13th year, was a wonderful blend of fundraising, art and compelling music that reflected the culture of the East Knoxville location of its beneficiary, the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum.

From the smooth jazz of Sheila Gordon and Marcel Holman to the electrifying rhythm of the youthful Drums Up Guns Down program participants, music filled the air and set the tempo for a wonderful evening in the garden.

The Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum is located on 47 acres of former Howell Nurseries, featuring walking trails, display gardens, unique and historic horticulture and over two miles of distinctive stone walls and timeless buildings, just five minutes from downtown. It is privately owned and operated and supported through donations and memberships. The Green Thumb Gala is its largest annual fundraising event.

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‘Grief is the price we pay for love.’

This was the last time Christy Lee, center, appeared on the Blue Streak. It was June 22 of this year at the Lakeshore Park Picnic, which was a fundraiser for the West Knoxville treasure. She’s with her husband, Jeff, and her friend, Margie Nichols. Christy passed away two weeks later.

Although that quote is credited to the late Queen Elizabeth II, last week it rang true here in Knoxville to the many friends of Christy Lee, among whom Alan and I count ourselves. Christy passed away suddenly on July 6 at the age of 62.

Her devoted husband, Jeff Lee, hosted a “celebration of Christy” at Cherokee Country Club last Thursday, which would have been Christy’s 63rd birthday. He asked everyone to wear blue jeans and white shirts to the affair. Jeans, he said, were the couple’s “go-to attire.” And he chose to request white shirts because they would be best to showcase the battery-operated sparkling necklaces that Christy loved to give to her friends on almost every holiday. As you will see from these photos, everyone got one on Thursday.

I will remember Christy as a fun-loving — and funny — addition to any gathering. And it was so touching to see how much she and Jeff adored one another. They actually purchased a house we used to live in on Cherokee Boulevard, and we loved vising them there to see the great improvements they made over the years — and the wonderful holiday decorations they would put up. (And I mean EVERY holiday — not just Christmas!) Continue reading

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Helping Ukraine from a garden in Knoxville

Dr. Marek Pienkowski displays an elaborate Ukrainian cake that was a door prize at the gala.

It was an extraordinary evening recently at the Knoxville Botanical Garden with moving music and a delicious — and unique — dinner. But the most special thing of all was the purpose. It was a fundraiser organized by Dr. Marek Pienkowski to benefit Doctors Without Borders’ work in war-ravaged Ukraine.

The gala evening raised more than $26,000 for the effort and featured music and food from the Ukrainian nation. Also on tap: an auction of works by artists of the region.

Ukraine’s official colors — blue and yellow — and its trademark sunflowers in the centerpieces made it hard to forget the purpose of the gathering. Musicians — several from the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra — were conducted by James Fellenbaum, director of operas at the University of Tennessee and resident conductor of the Knoxville Symphony. Food was by Rosa’s Catering which put together the meal using special advice from Olena Korotych, an award-winning scientist and instructor at the University of Tennessee who hails from Ukraine. Continue reading

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