More than150 folks donned “Rosy’s Diner” baseball caps and filed into the ballroom of the Crowne Plaza hotel Friday night for a laugh-filled celebration of News Sentinel editorial cartoonist Charlie Daniel’s 80th birthday.
Rosy’s Diner is a staple location for much of the action that takes place in Daniel’s cartoons. Good sport Donna Colburn of the News Sentinel put on a vibrant red wig and played the part of “Rosy” for the evening. She looked exactly like the cartoon. “Wow,” said Daniel. “I’ve never really seen Rosy before!”
One of the evening’s highlights had to be the choice of food. It was exactly what you would expect to be served at Rosy’s Diner: fried chicken AND meatloaf accompanied by mashed potatoes with gravy and country style green beans (meaning they had bacon in them!).
“We could have had this party at Wright’s Cafeteria and then we could have just gone through the line,” quipped Bob Griffitts of Congressman Jimmy Duncan’s office.
The evening’s master of ceremonies was News Sentinel columnist Sam Venable who introduced a variety of speakers close to Daniel.
- Ginny Weatherstone, the executive director of Volunteer Ministry Center on whose board Daniel serves, said of him, “Charlie Daniel lives at the intersection of good humor and love.”
- Jack McElroy, editor of the News Sentinel, said he is glad Daniel is only 80 years young. “Charley is turning 80 and surely he is good for another 10 years. I’m 56 and Scripps editors have to retire at age 65, so I’m glad I won’t have to replace Charlie. Because he’s irreplaceable.”
- Harry Moskos, editor of the News Sentinel from 1984 to 2001, said he became friends with Daniel when Daniel worked for the competing Knoxville Journal and drew a cartoon of Moskos himself. He said he was delighted to eventually have the opportunity to hire Daniel. “The readers of the News Sentinel don’t know how lucky they are. The News Sentinel actually has two cartoonists – Charlie and Dan Proctor. That’s very rare.”
- Congressman Duncan said he met Daniel when he himself was an assistant state editor at The Knoxville Journal. Duncan said his father always told him, “Everything looks easy from a distance.” He said Daniel makes cartooning look easy, but it isn’t.
- City Councilman Marilyn Roddy read a beautiful proclamation honoring Daniel from Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam. It took about 10 minutes to read. When she concluded to hearty applause, she picked up another proclamation and tossed it to emcee Venable. “Oh,” she said. “The county also sent one.” Big laugh.
Door prizes were a hit. Especially the Charlie Daniel calendars – for the year 2009!
But Charlie got the last words – and some of the best.
“School kids ask me how they can become a cartoonist when they grow up,” Daniel said. “I tell them, ‘Don’t grow up.'”
Daniel said he himself has never grown up: “I was as surprised as you when I found out I was 80!”
“For cartoonists, the greatest award you can get is being stuck up on a refrigerator,” Daniel said. “But this is greater.”
Standing ovation. Sweet night.
Some of the other folks there: Rose Moseley, Fred Brown, Tom Chester, Jack Lail, Amy McCrary, Mr. and Mrs. Hoyt Canady, Georgiana Vines, Ben and Jo Byrd, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Calloway, Susan and David Lauver, Jack and Doris Sharp, Duane and Marsha Grieve, Barry and Leslie Henderson, Ed and Donie Green, Ed and Corrine Patrick, Bill and Margie Snyder, Joe Johnson of A&W Office Supply and a LOT of members of Daniel’s family.