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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