Marvin West, KnoxTNToday.com columnist, was honored by the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the group’s annual gala April 8 at The Foundry. West was accompanied by his wife, Sarah.
A Powell native, West got an early start in his journalism career. Some say that he knew Gen. Robert R. Neyland when Neyland was a cadet at West Point. West credited Tom Siler and Ralph Millett with giving him the opportunity of a lifetime. He worked day and night for nine months covering UT football and got comp time instead of overtime – summers off.
He met the late Don Whitehead who was impressed with his work ethic: “If you keep working this hard, something really good will happen sometime.”
After working as sports editor and then managing editor at the News Sentinel, West was named national sports editor of the Scripps-Howard News Service. Marvin and Sarah moved to Washington, D.C. Marvin coordinated coverage for six Olympics; he traveled to “exotic places like Lillehammer, Norway, the French Alps, Barcelona and Seoul.”
He was in Cuba for the 1991 Pan American Games, and was under the upper deck of Candlestick Park for the Earthquake World Series, Oct. 17, 1989.
West concluded his remarks by saying those gathered had no idea what a favor honoree Dean Dillon had done for them by having a schedule conflict. Had he attended, West and Dillon had planned to sing a duet.
Instead, the audience was entertained by singer/songwriter Karen E. Reynolds and Sarah Pirkle, last year’s inductee in the songwriting category.
Dean Dillon grew up in Lake City (now Rocky Top). When he finished high school, he hitchhiked to Nashville to start a career in country music. He recorded for RCA, Capitol and Atlantic Records, but his greatest success came as a songwriter. Dillon has written 26 No. 1 songs for artists ranging from Kenny Chesney to Brooks & Dunn.
Edgar Miller was inducted into the ET Writers Hall of Fame for journalism. Miller began his career as a copyboy at the daily Knoxville Journal. He has been a reporter, an editor, press secretary for U.S. Sen. Howard H. Baker and a journalism educator.
Deanna Stephens was inducted for poetry. Since 2006, she has taught composition and literature at Roane State Community College.
John McManus was inducted for fiction. He was born in Knoxville in 1977 and grew up in Blount County. McManus directs the MFA creative writing program at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, where he is an associate professor.
Paul Ashdown and Ed Caudill were inducted for nonfiction writing. The men co-authored a five-book series on how media and popular culture created a mythic afterlife for a group of prominent Civil War-era soldiers: Wild Bill Hickok, W.T. Sherman, John Singleton Mosby, Nathan Bedford Forrest and G.A. Custer. Both are retired professors from the University of Tennessee.
Alan Gratz was inducted for young adult literature. He has written 17 novels for young readers. Alan is a Knoxville native who holds two degrees from the University of Tennessee.
Frank Murphy was master of ceremonies. The gala is a fundraiser for Friends of Literacy.
Several anonymous writers and a copy of the program were helpful in compiling this story.