Central High School Wall of Fame: Suzanne Matheny

Dr. Jim TumblinFeature, Fountain City

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of features on the 2018 Central High School Wall of Fame inductees.


Suzanne Matheny is one of the four Central High School graduates who will be inducted into the school’s Wall of Fame on Nov. 8.

She was born in Fountain City, one of two children of Betty Chambers Matheny and John H. Matheny. Suzanne grew up on Maple Drive and Midlake Drive and graduated from Fountain City Grammar School. She proceeded to graduate from Central in 1961 where she was co-photo editor of the school’s annual, the Centralite, and a member of Charles Sanders’ 100-voice Girl’s Chorus. She was also in the Junior Classical League, the Junior and Senior Honor Societies, the French Club, the Beta Club and was a member of the All-State Chorus during her junior year.

She entered Carson-Newman College to pursue her interest in teaching and graduated in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in French/English/secondary education. She entered Ohio University and earned a master’s degree in guidance/counseling in 1968. Later she would pursue studies in her avocation, earning a master’s in church music (1981) from Southwestern Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. She studied additionally at UT and Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

She began her career as a French teacher in Atlanta from 1965-67. After pursuing her master’s degree at Ohio University, she was a counselor for the Southeastern Ohio Upward Bound (1968-1971) and then spent 30 years in higher education, 13 at Carson-Newman University and 17 at Belmont University in Nashville. Her positions at Carson-Newman were assistant dean of students and director of alumni relations. At Belmont she held these positions: Baptist Student Union director (1981-85), associate dean of students (1985-1991), assistant vice president for administration/dean of students (1991-98). During her final years at Belmont, she was also campus liaison for the Tennessee Arts Academy, an annual summer academy for teachers of the arts which meets on the Belmont campus.

Suzanne’s pursuit of excellence has been recognized at many levels of her career including: Educator of the Year (Baptist Association of Student Affairs), Alumni Human Service Award (Carson-Newman), Founders Day Medal (Carson-Newman), President of the Nashville Symphony Chorus, Presenter at the Baptist Woman’s Retreat in Warsaw, Poland (2014), and Fountain City Woman of the Year (2017).

She has also been the epitome of a volunteer worker in her community wherever she lives. For 25 years she sang with the Nashville Symphony and the Knoxville Choral Society and is active in the choir of Church Street Methodist Church and its committees. She chairs the Historic Central High School (Gresham Middle School) Campus Restoration Committee.

To date, in addition to invaluable in-kind contributions, more than 450 CHS/GMS alumni and friends have contributed more than $39,000 in cash enabling the committee’s “A STEP IN TIME” campaign to:

  • Erect an official state of Tennessee marker commemorating the history of this beloved campus;
  • Install 430-plus inscribed bricks to honor or memorialize CHS/GRESHAM faculty, students, alumni and friends, and honoring classes of ’44, ’47,’ 50, ’52, ’55, ’56, ’58, ’59, ’61, ’62;
  • Install a brick patio with a stone seating wall and attractive bricked areas;
  • Reforest the campus with more than 15 new legacy and ornamental trees;
  • Enhance building aesthetics with attractive fencing near entrance;
  • Repaint the announcement sign; and,
  • Replace the deteriorated and hazardous asphalt central walkway with an environmentally sound, aesthetically pleasing and safe walkway for today’s students.

Suzanne is also an active member of the Inskip Lions Club, her Neighborhood Watch Committee, a volunteer with the Tennessee Arts Academy (identifying East Tennessee presenters), a member of the Fountain City Grammar School alumnae book club, past grant reviewer for the Tennessee Arts Commission and past chair of her Carson-Newman Class Reunion.

The Central High School Foundation and the Alumni Association are pleased to declare Suzanne Matheny an honoree on the CHS Wall of Fame.

The 17th Annual Central High School Wall of Fame Dinner will be held at the Gresham Middle School, 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8. Tickets are $25 and are available at the CHS office and from CHS Alumni and Foundation representatives. Info: R. Larry Smith (922-5433) or Jean Payne (688-4165).

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