Memorial Day at Fountain City

Sandra ClarkFountain City

Honor Fountain City Day was hot, but speeches were brief. It was the 44th annual event hosted by Fountain City Town Hall, held May 27 at Fountain City Park. Three candidates for Knoxville mayor – Indya Kincannon, Eddie Mannis and Marshall Stair – worked the crowd for votes, while those lucky enough to be already elected sat in the shade of the gazebo.

Judge John Rosson was there, grateful to run for re-election without opposition. “I’ve run scared and I’ve run unopposed. I prefer unopposed,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett was whispering a funny tale about taking the subway to work in Washington, D.C., when event chair Tyler Pavlis called him to come to the stage. “I was talking to the press,” said Burchett.

Ronald Purdom, a U.S. Army veteran of the 101st Airborne Division, stood while Lynn Bennett sang “God Bless America.” Purdom stood in the sun with his portable oxygen tank at his side, a small American flag displayed on the tank. He said afterward that he flew over 200 missions.

John Becker, news anchor at WBIR-TV, said Memorial Day is a day of reflection; it’s a day to honor the men and women who have been killed in service. Burchett agreed. He talked of his mother, Joyce, who lost her brother Roy in World War II. She told Tim she had waited five years for her husband and Tim’s dad, Charlie, to return from the war. “And I’m still waiting for Roy.”

The Rev. Tim Best, pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church, offered the invocation, saying, “The cost of war is great.”

Leaders of the Fountain City Ministry Center: Ben Jaco, Bill Keeler, Dixie Bopp and Kelly Gregory. Keeler is motioning for others to come up. Not pictured are Laura Tappan, Paula Donaldson and Libba Jaco. Tyler Pavlis is at right.

Although the mood of the memorial ceremony, moved this year to the gazebo, was somber, the mood of the earlier event segment was lighthearted. Jamie Rowe, giving the keynote address, talked about senior citizens. She put the cutoff at age 60.

Rowe translated some social-media abbreviations into “senior.” LOL means living on Lipitor, she said. “FWIW means forgot where I was.” Rowe harkened back to songs from the 1950s and ’60s to mention Paul Simon’s “Fifty Ways To Leave Your Liver.” Want more? Jamie’s husband, Holland, taped the entire talk.

Event chair Tyler Pavlis presented six awards: Commercial Restoration, Starbucks; Residential Restoration, David and Lori Hensley; Chair’s Award, Angela Freeman-Hunter and Derrick Freeman; Friend of Fountain City, Fountain City Ministry Center; Woman of the Year, Penny Kleinschmidt of State Farm Insurance; Man of the Year, coach Bryson Rosser.

Pavlis said the FC Ministry Center is a collaboration of 10 area churches that provides emergency food and kids’ clothing. Now in its 18th year, the center operates “with many volunteers and a dedicated board, serving some 150 families each week.”

Kleinschmidt is a relative newcomer, having moved to Fountain City in 2011. Her volunteerism with the Lions Club was noted. “She is the face of the recent park and building restoration,” said Pavlis. “She started the concerts in the park.” He noted that her son, Christopher, serves in the U.S. Navy.

Rosser brought several Central High School football team members with him to accept his award. Central is his first head-coaching job, and in his five years here the team has posted five winning seasons and advanced to the state championship game twice. In early 2019, the Bobcats won the football championship – the first in Central’s history. Also, team members contributed 700 hours of community service.

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