Nan Scott: A well traveled life

Beth KinnaneFountain City, Our Town Neighbors

If given the opportunity, Nan Scott will try to convince you that she’s just not that interesting. The reality is nothing could be further from the truth.

A native of Fountain City, Scott has lived a life of learning, travel, artistic expression and a hard held devotion to social justice and equality. The latter was a purpose handed down to her from her father, a northern Ohio native who came to Knoxville by way of the University of Alabama when he was hired by the Tennessee Valley Authority. There he met Scott’s mother, a file clerk at the time, who left her job upon their marriage.

Scott with a Christmas wreath of her own making.

“I owe my inception to TVA,” she said with a laugh. “And I eventually had a career there myself that I really enjoyed.

A 1965 graduate of Central High School, Scott earned three degrees from the University of Tennessee, a bachelor’s in education, a master’s in education counseling and she designed her own Interdisciplinary Ph. D. Program, an option housed in the College of Human Ecology.

“When I graduated with my bachelor’s, my first job was with Head Start in the summer,” she said. “I knew my life was going to be dedicated to equal opportunity and to help people get out of poverty. And the first step in that direction was education.”

After Head Start, she started teaching first grade in the old Knoxville City System at the Moses School.

“It was an assignment I requested,” she said. “I was, and still am, very dedicated to literacy. Teaching reading is so important, and I wanted to be where I was needed the most.”

Her master’s led to work as a guidance counselor, the pursuit of her doctorate led to teaching at UT. She was looking to teach at Appalachian State University in North Carolina when her father’s cancer diagnosis changed her plans.

Lum’s Dock – original watercolor by Nan Scott

“I figured I needed to stay close to home, so I went to TVA with my résumé and asked for a job,” Scott said. There, she went to work in the Civil Rights Division and was part of the three-person team that wrote the agency’s Title VI compliance manual. She then became manager of the Women’s Program, ensuring women had opportunities at TVA.

Over the span of all those years one place remained a constant for Scott, the place she calls her “heart home” – the fabled Ocracoke on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. She first started going there with her family around age 12 and said she hasn’t missed going since.

“I’ve been there at least 100 times, probably more. It ignites my artistic side,” said Scott, who also paints in both oils and water colors. “I now have lots of friends that live there. I do a family trip every year as well as a friends’ trip. And sometimes I just go on my own with my dog, Treasure.”

Nan Scott fishing in Alaska

Treasure’s other Fountain City housemates are Scott’s rescued hounds, Bella Maria and Honey Pup as well as the cat, Foster (reportedly an excellent mouser).

Scott also makes regular excursions to her brother Eddie’s fish camp in Alaska. An opportunity in 2019 sent Scott on a journey she could have never imagined, even as someone who’s traveled all over Europe.

“I got a phone call from a friend at church about a safari in the Serengeti,” she said. “And Africa had never been on my list, but when she told me they had a spot for me I said ‘sign me up!’ It was just incredible, so unbelievable. Just magnificent.”

That friend was Zoo Knoxville President and CEO Lisa New, who attends Fountain City Presbyterian with Scott.

So, about that uninteresting life?

“You know what,” she said. “I have been very, very fortunate.”

Beth Kinnane is the community news editor for


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