Former U.S. Sen. and Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, left, with former Knoxville Mayor and U.S. Ambassador Victor Ashe. (And Sharon Pryse executing a friendly photobomb!)
It looked like a capacity crowd last week at a $500-per-seat dinner honoring former U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander as “East Tennessean of the Year” during a fundraiser for the East Tennessee Historical Society. Familiar faces from all phases of Alexander’s public life filled Cherokee Country Club to honor him, causing a half-hour-long traffic jam that blocked Lyons View Pike and delayed the start of dinner by 30 minutes.
Nobody minded. We were in a jovial mood, fueled no doubt by the joy of the occasion and the extended cocktail hour. “Lamar Alexander is the only person I know who has been a governor, president of a major state university, U.S. Secretary of Education, presidential candidate and United States Senator,” said Roy Kramer, retired commissioner of the Southeastern Conference and himself a past East Tennessean of the Year award winner.
Alexander used the occasion to discuss the value of teaching history. “History is important,” he said. “The good and the bad need to be taught. Even the embarrassing parts.”
Everyone who attended walked away with a copy of “Selections from Lamar Alexander’s Little Plaid Book,” described as “152 rules, lessons and reminders about running for office and making a difference whether it’s for President of the United States or president of your senior class.”
Here are some of my favorites:
- Know the price of milk, bread and eggs. I couldn’t remember one day during the 1996 New Hampshire primary and the media had a good time at my expense.
- Be yourself, speak from the heart, and not for too long.
- If you want a standing ovation, seat a few friends in the front row.
- If the audience stops listening, stop talking.
- Think twice about speaking for more than 20 minutes. Neither the bottom nor the brain can absorb much more.
- Walk in parades. If it is the Mule Day parade, walk at the front.
- If you want to be noticed, don’t ride in a convertible with Dolly Parton.
Alexander, left, with Congressman Tim Burchett.
Former U.S. Congressman Jimmy Duncan, left, with John and Margie Nichols Gill and Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler.
Alexander, right, with TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash and his wife, Tracy.
Knoxville Utilities Board President and CEO Gabriel Bolas, left, with Reynard Graham of Alexander’s staff.
Alexander with Steve Stilts, left, and Alan Carmichael.
Sherri Lee, left, with Becky and Joe Thompson III.
Photographer Jack Williams and Jane Chedester, longtime Alexander staffer.
Former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice and longtime Sevierville Mayor Gary Wade, left, with Victor Ashe.
Sam Furrow, left, with Vicki and Jeff Chapman.
Patrick Birmingham and Joan Ashe.
Marnie and Bob Page.
Mark and Kristin Williams with Jerome Melson, right.
Jane Creed, left, and Margie Nichols Gill.
Ham biscuits and brie bites passed during the reception.
Big hit with my hubs!
Alexander with Tina and Doug Mills. He produced the videos used in the presentation. I think she wins the award for most appropriate outfit!
Donna Cobble, left, with Michael White and Kreis Beall.
Jim Haslam, left, with Kristin and Eric Seabrook.
Finally, traffic eased and we moved into the ballroom for dinner.
State Rep. Michele Carringer, left, with Dr. Mike Carringer and Carolyn Leahy.
Susan Arp, left, and Susan Williams. Love the purse!
Michele Carringer introduced me to her fellow legislator, State Rep. Greg Vital of Chattanooga.
The tables featured Alexander’s trademark red and black plaid and copies of the little book for everyone.
The eucalyptus centerpieces were lovely, but they had to be removed before dinner because they blocked the view of one’s tablemates. Here’s Dr. Jack Lacey taking care of the one on his table.
City Council Member Janet Testerman removed the one from our table. (Thanks!)
Former Gov. and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, left, with Susan and Dr. George Krisle.
Cindi DeBusk, left, with Sylvia and Dr. Jack Lacey.
Hallerin Hilton Hill, left, with Susan and Dick Williams.
Dr. Doug Leahy, left, and Knox County Commissioner Larsen Jay at the Moxley Carmichael table.
Council Member Janet Testerman with her husband, Joey Creswell.
Former Congressman Jimmy Duncan and Knox County Sheriff Tom Spangler.
Emcee Hallerin Hilton Hill.
Joe Thompson III is chairman of the board of the East Tennessee Historical Society.
Warren Dockter, president and CEO of East Tennessee Historical Society, presented the award to Alexander.
Sandy and Gary Wade.
Natalie and Jim Haslam.
Sam and Ann Furrow.
Matthew and Martha McClellan.
Kay Clayton and Bob Lederer.
Hank and Margaret Dye.
It was a fun night. Folks were still smiling even waiting in the valet line at the end of the evening! Here are Jane and Kenneth Creed.
We always love it when Alexander plays “The Tennessee Waltz” on the piano. He did not disappoint on this night!
Mox, do you realize it’s been 40 years since we covered Gov. Lamar??? I’m suddenly feeling very old.
Thank you Cynthia for your great coverage in the Blue Streak of the East TN Historical Society event honoring Senator Lamar Alexander last week. It was a great night indeed!
I was not familiar with “The Little Plaid Book” but after reading your favorite selections, I immediately went online and ordered a copy. I look forward to reading it!
A remarkable career indeed. Here is a presentation by the US Senate Minority Leader on Alexander’s last day.
Carol: NO! I didn’t realize that. And I wish you hadn’t reminded me!!
Susan: Great job on the event!
Bill: It’s a pretty fun little read!
Jeff: Thanks for the link! Very moving — especially at the end.
Thank you for your great coverage of the well-deserved tribute.
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