Speaker Meeting Attendance
At the May meeting we had 58 diners of whom 5 were non-members. We also had 36 civil war buffs for the lecture only and 6 of those were non-members. Please be sure to make your reservation for the June 14 meeting by calling in your dinner reservations before 11 am on Monday, June 13.
We are saddened to hear of Bud Robertson’s speaking cancellation due to a recent elbow injury. We wish him a speedy recovery and look to have him back as a speaker soon. In the meantime, we thank Brian McKnight for filling in on short notice and we look forward to an informative presentation.
Passing the baton
My three years as president of the KCWRT voluntarily comes to an end on June 30. However, I remain on the board as the immediate past president. I appreciate your support over these years and thank you for it. It has truly been a humbling and rewarding experience for me to represent you throughout our community. Leadership will now be in the very capable hands of John Stegner. Please give him your support (think volunteering to do stuff) to an even greater degree than that which you gave to me. It has been a distinct honor and pleasure to represent such a wonderful growing organization during these three years.
We have enjoyed many noteworthy accomplishments together. I am not personally responsible for most of them; it has always been a group effort. I’d like to recount some of the most significant in this, my final President’s Message.
The KCWRT is a well-known regional organization and the public shows interest in us by their attendance at our meetings and events. The significant growth of our membership, now well over 200, during the preceding three years is due in no small measure to the strength of our speaker program led by Dot Kelly for many years and continuing with Jim Doncaster. This is what attracts the public to our group. Publicity through the local media certainly helps to attract new members. Our promotions directors have been wonderful in what they have done and continue doing. The best publicity is you telling your friends and neighbors about us.
The tenacity of Jerry Patterson in following up with membership renewal reminders and in turning visitors into new members has born tremendous fruit. I was extremely proud to lead our organization through the sesquicentennial year of 2015. The events throughout the year resulted in several speaking opportunities which again publicized our group. Dot Kelly receiving the first Fred Prouty Preservation Award at the Sesquicentennial Blue & Gray Dinner in May garnered additional notoriety for the KCWRT. Many of our members attended this noteworthy event.
As part of the sesquicentennial events, the KCWRT dedicated a plaque affixed to the front of the Lamar House (now the Bijou Theatre) recounting the death of General William P. Sanders in that building in November 1863. This was a major accomplishment for the KCWRT working together with the theatre board and adds significantly to the recognition of Civil War history in downtown Knoxville. The attendance of both the city mayor and the county mayor at the dedication ceremony highlighted the importance of this commemoration.
The participation of the KCWRT in the development and rewriting of the tourism map and brochure of civil war Knoxville corrected previous errors and added significant information. This map, with credit to the KCWRT, will be distributed through the tourism office for many years to come.
Several of our members are historians and we present programs and talks throughout the area to local schools, churches, and civic organizations, all of which further our educational mission and increase our visibility. Our annual participation in the East Tennessee Historical Society History Fair every August (mark your calendar this year for August 20) and our three day Fort Dickerson Weekend (this year October 22-23) with the Friday school day and two public weekend days emphasize the importance of Knoxville’s civil war heritage. We were fortunate to be invited to appear on a local afternoon television show to publicize the Weekend. Three of us were interviewed. Two cleanup days at Fort Dickerson (spring and fall) allow our members and local teens to perform some honest work for the benefit of the citizens of Knoxville.
December 2015 saw two memorable events take place at the speaker meeting. We honored Dot Kelly with a certificate announcing an annual grant to be known as the Dot Kelly Civil War Preservation Grant. This grant, to be awarded for a worthy civil war preservation project in Knoxville, is “in grateful appreciation of her tireless dedication to Civil War preservation” in Knoxville. At the same meeting, Jim Ogden, who has spoken to our Roundtable for approximately 35 years, was bestowed an honorary life membership in the KCWRT. Both awards were surprises to these longtime friends and historians. In attendance to celebrate these special awards were nine past presidents of the KCWRT and Cherel Henderson, Executive Director of the East Tennessee Historical Society.
Let me end with a commercial. We need more help from our membership with those activities mentioned above. We have too many of the same folks repeatedly volunteering for these events. I know our membership is generally older and some of our members are simply unable to assist. I strongly encourage our younger and our able-bodied members to participate in one or two community events each year. It is enormously rewarding to share your knowledge with the public including the school-age youngsters. As a member interested in our civil war heritage, I encourage you to share your interest. The future success of the KCWRT depends on the participation of our membership. Don’t wait for someone to ask you, please volunteer as you are able. We are also always seeking members to serve as officers on the board. Make your intentions known to one of our board members so we can tap your skills. Thank you again for your support over the past three years and I will continue to see you at meetings and events.
Dennis D. Urban, President