Leadership Knox ‘best class ever’ – settled!

Gwen Brown, left, and Jane Creed. Two members of Leadership Knoxville’s best class ever.

It’s a running joke among Leadership Knoxville classes. Every class claims that its class is “the best class ever.” But, I’m here to tell you that the matter has been settled. If you can refute this evidence, let me know.

This past weekend, the Leadership Knoxville Class of ’93 — of which I am a member — held its annual class party. Yep, we’ve had this party for the past 25 years — without fail! I don’t think any other Leadership Knoxville class can say that.

We were always a close class. Despite being a very diverse group  — like all Leadership Knoxville classes are designed to be — we genuinely liked each other. We were Republicans and Democrats, urban dwellers and suburbanites, black and white, business people, educators and community volunteers. But we jelled. We really listened to each other and learned from each other — even those with whom we disagreed. And we became friends.

We made a commitment to staying in touch. Our annual party — always held in the fall pretty close to Halloween — is an integral part of that. This year, one class member even drove in from Nashville to attend.

I think one secret to our success is the simplicity of our party. Someone volunteers to host — this year it was class member Tom Varlan, a federal judge, and his wife, Danni, who live in the West Hills neighborhood. Then, every class member signs up to bring one of four things: an appetizer, a salad, a soup or dessert. Then, one of the non-cooks in the class is assigned to bring bread. Everyone brings wine. And, there you have it. A fun and delicious gathering.

We are going to claim the title of “best class ever.” But we encourage all the other classes to follow our example. You will be glad you did.

Members of the Leadership Knoxville Class of ’93 at the annual class party. Front row, from left: Jane Creed, Gwen Brown, Carolyn Pearre, Annette Winston, Cile Mathews, Rusha Sams; back row, from left: Bo Townsend, Tom Varlan, Dr. Dwight Wade, Bruce Anderson, Dr. Charlie Mercer, Stuart Worden, me, Lynne Fain. Not pictured: Thurman Kinnebrew, who only attended briefly due to an illness in the family. (Thanks to Ed Mathews for taking the photo.)

Class member Cile Mathews, who is largely responsible for keeping the class together by organizing the annual parties, is setting out her smoked salmon dip.

It was a pretty and comfortable night Sunday, so the Varlans set up a bar and appetizers on the porch.

Pretty outdoor centerpiece.

I have found through years of experience that where ever you set up the bar, you will attract a crowd!

Danni made cocktail meatballs and sausage slices in a delicious cranberry-based sauce.

I brought a cheese ball in the disguise of a pumpkin. Everyone asked what the stem was. It was the stem of a bell pepper.

Monique Anderson lent a hand by helping Danni plate some brie bites Danni had made. (Danni went above and beyond the call of duty by making two appetizers and a salad. And being the hostess.)

Brie bites.

Bo Townsend about to enjoy a brie bite!

Danni made a beautiful centerpiece in a pumpkin for the dining room table.

The spouses of class members also enjoy the annual parties. From left, Ron Brown, Alan Carmichael and Courtney Pearre.

Everyone loved these cocktail napkins! Ain’t it the truth??

Danni Varlan and Dwight Wade.

Classmates Carolyn Pearre, left, and Lynne Fain.

Ed Mathews and Alan Carmichael.

Alice Mercer and Monique Anderson.

Judge Varlan called us to dinner with a few remarks. Bo Townsend, an Episcopal priest, said grace.

Monique’s salad was yummy.

Danni made a salad with asparagus and walnuts in it. It was fantastic, as well.

And the soups were equally tantalizing!

Annette’s chicken posole to be topped with a squeeze of lime, chopped cilantro, avocado and cheese. Wow!

Bo made Portuguese kale soup.

Here’s Rusha Sams’ chicken tortilla soup.

Charlie Mercer’s Italian sausage soup. You were supposed to sprinkle it with Romano cheese.

Whereas some folks pick one soup and fill their bowl, my strategy is to take a little of each. I can attest that they all were delicious! I guess after 25 years, this group has perfected soup making!

Courtney and Carolyn drove in from Nashville for the party. We were so glad to see them.

Barry Winston cracked me up! He took the meatball appetizers and made a meatball sandwich! Hey, whatever works, right?

One of our best dessert makers is Thurman Kinnebrew. This year he made lemon pie. But he couldn’t stay because of an illness in his family. This pie got rave reviews. I couldn’t even get a picture before it was half eaten!

More fab desserts. These from the Pearres.

Gwen and Ron Brown’s apple tea cake was a hit, too.

I leave you with a shot of this empty pie plate as a testament to this party’s success!

Seriously, folks. Get your class together!


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14 Responses to Leadership Knox ‘best class ever’ – settled!

  1. Celeste Herbert, on November 6th, 2018 at 6:33 pm said:

    I wish my class had done a better job of staying in touch. I think your class is great!

  2. Rusha Sams, on November 7th, 2018 at 2:49 pm said:

    It’s the people, of course, who make this class so great. But the good food helps, too. Thanks for sharing all the smiles and the delectable bites that made the evening a stand out among stand outs. We really are the Best Class Ever!!

  3. Gay Lyons, on November 7th, 2018 at 3:04 pm said:

    My class tries. For a few years we had a Christmas gathering, but that’s a crazy time of year. I think the key is having a regular time & a routine–keeping it simple. Very impressive record.

  4. Cynthia Moxley, on November 8th, 2018 at 9:19 am said:

    Celeste: Thanks! Maybe we could adopt you!

    Rusha: I think the fact that we have a good and simple formula helps a lot. We’re all so used to it by now that fall wouldn’t be fall without this gathering.

    Gay: You all could try again!

  5. Kathleen Erickson, on November 8th, 2018 at 9:36 am said:

    Y’all need to make a recipe book for fundraising. Having all the recipes from this fabulous gathering would make me very happy! Such fun. A great testament to the enduring nature of friendships forged in shared experience.

  6. Monique Wilson Anderson, on November 8th, 2018 at 9:51 am said:

    Alan and I were in the same class and we get to enjoy this party every year as spouse honorary guests! Always a fun time.

  7. Cynthia Moxley, on November 8th, 2018 at 9:56 am said:

    Kathleen: What a great idea!

    Monique: We love our “better halves!” Wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without you guys!

  8. Pam Rhoades, on November 8th, 2018 at 10:01 am said:

    Must have those cocktail napkins! Thanksgiving is SO overlooked and is our favorite holiday!

  9. Cynthia Moxley, on November 8th, 2018 at 10:13 am said:

    Pam: I couldn’t agree more! I think every holiday should confine itself to its designated month!

  10. Cile Mathews, on November 8th, 2018 at 11:31 am said:

    Cynthia, excellent job as usual with pictures and descriptive captions! I still plan to send pictures, etc. to Leadership Knoxville staff, so I can brag on us a bit. The party was such fun.
    Thank you for all you do.

  11. Annette Winston, on November 8th, 2018 at 4:00 pm said:

    Yes, we all were 25 years younger when we met. Our class has lost a number of members as many have died, and several have moved away. We started with 40, and I’d say we still somewhere between 25 and 30 in town. So to have 15 show up this year (and missing those are generally always there) was pretty darned impressive. Thanks, Varlans. Beautiful tables and great hosts. Bo Townsend’s prayer was wonderful as well. (We missed you, Beth.)

  12. Sandi Swilley, on November 9th, 2018 at 11:42 am said:

    …Just loved seeing this post and happy 25th anniversary to the Leadership Knoxville class of 1993. What a wonderful tradition! Thanks Cynthia for writing this super article on the ‘best class ever’!

  13. Lauren Miller, on November 9th, 2018 at 12:33 pm said:

    Angie Wilson emailed this post out to the Class of 2019. We’re taking notes and ready to step up as “best class ever.” Thanks for the ideas, Cynthia!

  14. Cynthia Moxley, on November 9th, 2018 at 1:22 pm said:

    Thanks, Cile. You have been the key to this annual event being so successful.

    Annette: Thanks for that good info.

    Sandi: Thanks for the kind words.

    Lauren: I hope you all do commit to a tradition like this. It’s been very rewarding. As far as being “the best class ever,” well, we still have 25 years on you!! Maybe you can be the “second best class ever!” So glad you are enjoying your LK experience.

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