Sevierville Chamber of Commerce celebrates 50 years
In a night filled with awards for living legends, community beautification and the citizen of the year, the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce celebrated its 50th year of existence Tuesday night at the Sevierville Convention Center at the group’s annual banquet.
Founding members and early shapers of the chamber were honored with their selection as Sevierville Chamber of Commerce Living Legends.
“As founding members of the Sevierville chamber,” Ashley Johnson, a past president of the chamber’s board of directors, said, “these business leaders were at the forefront, pushing Sevierville towards a brighter economic future.”
Jack Delozier (charter member, Sevier County Electric System), Truett Frazier (past board president, WSEV radio), Bill Kilpatrick (charter member, Kilpatrick’s Drug store, Apple Barn and Cider Mill), Alf Newman (charter member, Newman’s Cafe), Ross Summitt (charter member, Sevier County Bank), John Waters (charter member through his attorney practice), Jimmie Temple (charter member, past president, Temple Milling Company), Emily Kile (past president, Burchfiel-Kile Enterprises), Barbara Ely (past president, CNB) and Jane Rader (past executive director) were bestowed that honor for their service in helping create the organization as it’s now known.
“Those that came before us have lived up to who they are, citizens and residents of Sevier County, holding the flag high for the future of our community,” Chief Justice Gary Wade said of the honorees. “Just look how far we’ve come during the last half-century. Thank you to all of you that came before us, and thank you to all of you that continue to lead this community.”
Citizen of the Year, always the group’s most prestigious accolade, was awarded to Jane Rader — who served as the group’s executive director from 1987 to 2000.
“(She) is Sevierville,” Bryan Atchley, Sevierville’s mayor, said of Rader. “Her ancestry is Sevierville. Her kids are Sevierville. It’s very appropriate that this chamber is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary, because one of the people that’s most responsible for the success of this chamber is our citizen of the year, former director, Jane Rader.”
“Jane was an ambassador. She had a vision, and she knew where we’d be today, she just had to figure out how to get us there,” Atchley continued. “Sevierville was in her heart, and because it was in her heart (the chamber was successful).”
After being announced as the Citizen of the Year, Rader briefly spoke to the hundreds in attendance at the banquet.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Rader said. “I have a lady that I followed in her footsteps, and they were big shoes to fill — and that was Ruby Fox.”
Rader explained how Fox encouraged her and provided support during her transition into the executive director’s position.
She then spoke of her love for the chamber.
“I’ve always said that the Chamber of Commerce is the most important thing that Sevierville has,” Rader said. “Where can you get that many businessmen and women that love the area to come together and support the city of Sevierville?”
Starting with a $20,000 budget in 1987, the chamber grew under Rader’s watch to having a $1 million budget by the time she retired in 2000.
“Everybody (here) has been a part of that chamber of commerce and I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Rader said.
The evening’s John Sevier Awards, which are presented to a citizen that’s passed away in the previous fiscal year, been active in the community and at some point have been a member of the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce, were also given.
“We want to recognize two people tonight that gave so much to this community and are no longer with us,” Mayor Atchley said.
The first recognized was Jack Cook.
“There are several things Jack loved,” Atchley recalled. “First of all, Jack loved his Lord. He prayed at so many events … it’s unbelievable. He was the coordinator of the chaplain’s association, he was the chaplain of the FOP. He definitely loved his Lord. And how many times have you heard Jack Cook say how much he loved his country? He was a Vietnam veteran. He never had a prayer that he didn’t pray for our men and women in the armed forces … he loved his county. Most of all Jack Cook loved Sevierville, Tennessee. Anywhere you went … he was there and he loved this community. He made a huge difference and he will be missed.
Then the mayor remembered Josephine Burchfiel.
“She was a special lady,” Atchley said. “I never heard her say an unkind work about anybody … that wasn’t Josephine Burchfiel. She never worked outside the house, but what she left Sevierville and Sevier County is unbelievable: Walters State Community College, the Burchfiel Library, LeConte Medical Center, Smoky Mountain Boys and Girls Club, the Burchfiel Arboretum, First United Methodist Church, the Sevier County Humane Society. She was that quiet person, behind the scenes, that loved her community.
“Our community is a better place because of Jack Cook and Josephine Burchfiel,” Atchley said.
Also of note from the evening were the chamber’s Beautification Awards.
Sweet Peas and Ivy was honored for its landscaping; Eagle Spring Winery received an award for its signage; River Plantation RV Park won for best renovation; and Russell Stover was honored for it’s new construction.