Remains of bomber crew member, shot down in WWII, returned to TN

News release from Department of Veterans Services

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder recognize the service and sacrifice of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant William Turner of Nashville, who was presumably killed on December 13, 1943 along with five other American crew members while serving in World War II.  Turner along with the rest of the “Hell’s Fury” crew were part of an armada of 219 B-26 aircrafts flying form Essex, England to Amsterdam, Holland for a bombing raid.   “Hell’s Fury” was struck by anti-aircraft artillery and crashed near Schiphol near Amsterdam.  The 20-year old aerial engineer was assigned to the 555th Bomb Squadron, 386th Bomb Group and was a crew member of “Hell’s Fury” B-26 bomber.  The crash was recorded by the military as Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) 1413.

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Former UT President Eli Fly dies, age 82

News release from the University of Tennessee

Former University of Tennessee President Emerson “Eli” Fly died Aug. 7 in Knoxville at the age of 82.

“Another UT legend has left us and he will be missed by all,” said UT President Joe DiPietro. “We are thankful for his many years of service and leadership, including serving as president, to his beloved alma mater.”

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Former state Sen. Ray Albright dies, aged 83

Former Republican state Sen. Ray Albright, who spent 26 years as a state legislator working to improve Tennessee’s environment and its education system, died Monday at age 83, reports the Times Free Press.

Albright announced in November he had mesothelioma, a lung cancer caused by asbestos. He said he was exposed to the deadly mineral in the 1950s and ’60s when working to support his family at Combustion Engineering. Later he joined Union Planters Bank and rose to vice president before he retired.

He ran for and won a seat in the Tennessee House in 1968 on a promise to battle pollution and bring clean air back to a city dubbed in 1969 as having the dirtiest air in the nation.

Elected to the Senate in 1970, he was proud of sponsoring the bill that made Chattanooga State a technical community college. The first building on the Chattanooga State campus, the administration building, was renamed the Albright Omniplex in his honor.

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Jake Butcher — onetime banking kingpin, candidate for governor and federal prison inmate — dies aged 81

Jake Butcher, who helped bring the World’s Fair to Knoxville and then went to prison in disgrace after the collapse of the family banking empire he helped build, died Wednesday, reports the News Sentinel. He was 81.

Butcher was the 1978 Democratic nominee for governor, losing to Republican Lamar Alexander, and the leading promoter of the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville – both prior to his downfall.

Butcher and his brother, C.H. Butcher Jr., grew up on a farm in neighboring Union County, the sons of the county’s only banker. Together they built their father’s business into a multi-million-dollar financial network — one that federal authorities later determined to be a shell game.

… The brothers ultimately pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy and bank fraud, with each serving a little less than seven years in prison before release on parole.

C.H. Butcher died in 2002 after falling down some stairs at his Georgia home. Jake Butcher had been in failing health prior to his death Wednesday.

Jim Fyke, former state conservation commissioner and Nashville parks director, dies aged 78

James H. “Jim” Fyke, who served as Nashville’s city parks director for 25 years and as commissioner of the state Department of Environment and Conservation under former Gov. Phil Bredesen, has died at age 78 following a long battle with cancer, reports The Tennessean.

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Jim Neeley, union leader and former state labor commissioner, dies aged 76

James G. “Jim” Neeley, a longtime Tennessee union leader who served as commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development under former Gov. Phil Bredesen, has died at the age of 76.

Before his appointment as commissioner by Bredesen, Neeley was president of the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council. The organization’s current president, Billy Dycus, notes he also served as labor commissioner under former Gov. Ray Blanton, in this statement issued Thursday following Neeley’s death late Wednesday evening.

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TN soldier killed in helicopter crash

News release from Department of Veterans Affairs

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder recognize the service and sacrifice of Specialist Jeremy Tomlin of Chapel Hill, Tenn.  The Marshall County U.S. Army soldier was working as a crew chief and training in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter when it crashed on Monday, April 17, 2017 in Leornardtown, Md.   Tomlin was pronounced dead at the scene and two other crew members were critically injured. Tomlin,22, was assigned to “C” Company, 12th Aviation Battalion out of Fort Belvoir, Va.

”Jeremy was a son, brother and husband who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country,” Haslam said.  “We pause to remember this young Tennessee soldier killed in the line of duty and as a state we offer our thoughts and prayers to his loved ones.”

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Chattanooga publisher, civic leader Ruth Holmberg dies, age 96

Ruth Holmberg, Chattanooga civic leader and former publisher of The Chattanooga Times, died Wednesday at her home. She was 96.

Further from the Times-Free Press:

Holmberg was the granddaughter of Adolph Ochs, the 19th-century patriarch of The Chattanooga Times who rose to world prominence as publisher of The New York Times in the early decades of the 20th century.

Over time, Holmberg was deeply involved in Chattanooga civic life, serving in leadership roles in the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera Association, the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Chattanooga Urban League and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She was named Tennessee Woman of the Year in 2003.

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John Chiles, former House GOP leader, dies age 83

John G. Chiles, a Nashville Republican who served 16 years in the state legislature including eight years as House Minority Leader, has died at age 83.

His tenure as House Republican leader came when Democrat Ned McWherter was governor and Democrats held a majority in both the House and Senate. In that capacity, he was occasionally combative on partisan issues but sometimes willing to compromise as well — and he regularly displayed a quick wit in both situations.

Chiles, who ran a family-owned Nashville restaurant and then worked as a banker, is survived by his wife, Beth, two daughters, a stepdaughter, six grandchildren and two stepchildren, according to the published obituary. (Note: It’s HERE.) A service is scheduled for Wednesday.

An excerpt:

After his restaurant career, John served as Vice President of Business Development for United American Bank. It was during this time that he became interested in politics. In 1976, he was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives serving House District 57. He served as the minority whip in the 91st and 92nd General Assemblies. He was elected House Republican Leader in 1986 where he continued to serve through 1992. He was a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council and served as the organization’s Tennessee State Chairman from 1988 – 1991. He also served as a member of the Tennessee Republican Executive Committee and in 1993, he was named the Tennessee Republican Statesman of the Year.

…A gathering of family and friends will be held at Donelson Presbyterian Church at 2305 Lebanon Road from noon until 2:00pm on Wednesday, March 29th. A Celebration of Life will follow immediately at the church with Dr. Paul Casner officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Donelson Presbyterian Church or the charity of your choice.

Sen. Henry’s body to lie in state at Capitol — first in 90 years

The body of Sen. Douglas Henry, who died Sunday at age 90, will lie in state at the state Capitol building on Thursday. The last person to receive that honor was Gov. Austin Peay, who died in office in 1927, according to Eddie Weeks, legislative historian.

Visitation will be in the House chamber from 10 a.m. until noon Thursday and again from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.  A memorial will be held at Downtown Presbyterian Church on Friday and burial will follow at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.

Monday evening senators spent about half an hour paying tribute to Henry, the longest-serving legislator in Tennessee history. From The Tennessean’s report:

(Among those speaking were) Sens. Jeff Yarbro, Thelma Harper, both Democrats, and Republicans Ferrell Haile and Steve Dickerson, who led the chamber in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of Tennessee, a practice which Henry advocated.

“Grant that we may never forget that our common life depends on one another,” he said, alluding to Henry’s ability to reach across the aisle and look after the interests of others.

Haile said when Henry announced his plans to not seek re-election, the question became about who would replace Henry. “No one would replace Senator Henry,” Haile said.

Yarbro said while he succeeded Henry – he won the Democratic primary in 2014 – he knows he will never be able to replace the elder statesman. “I think his most enduring legacy, one that I try to emulate but often fall short, was his ability to disagree and still treat his colleagues with the utmost respect and even affection.”

Harper said Henry always treated his colleagues “like we were jewels.”

“I’m just glad that I had an opportunity to know him and really to love him,” she said.

As several other senators, including, Dickerson, Jim Tracy, Todd Gardenhire, Mark Norris, Mike Bell and Rusty Crowe, shared their thoughts and stories about Henry, a slideshow of photographs of Henry played in the background.

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, who was close friends with Henry, told a story about how Henry and former lawmaker Tim Burchett were walking down a street and were approached by a “rather destitute fella.” McNally said when the individual asked Henry for any spare change, the local Democrat handed over a $20 bill.

“That’s the type of individual that he was,” McNally said. “He really treated everybody as equals whether it was the governor or the janitor or the person in the cafeteria. He was a great man and we lost a great, great individual.”


Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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