Sunday, May 22, 2016

SW VA Pastor to speak at Women’s Day program Sunday at Ebenezer Baptist

KINGSPORT — A Women’s Day program will be held Sunday, May 22, 2016 at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 1026 Maple Street, beginning at 3 p.m. The guest speaker will be Pastor Carolyn Smith of Macedonia Baptist Church in Applachia, Virginia. The public is invited.

Helping the homeless

From purple ribbons to raise awarness, to an event to give aid, the New Vision Youth members recently sponsored the first in what is hoped to be an annual Homeless Resource Fair in partnership with Open Door Homeless and Preaching Christ Church in Kingsport.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Golf Tournament Suspended



Organizers say the purse giveaway will go on as scheduled, but the golf tournament planned for Warriors Path State Park on May 21, 2016 has been suspended.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board Meeting Scheduled

There will be a meeting of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association Board on Saturday, May 14, 2016.

The meeting will be held at 12 PM Noon in the Eastman Board Room, 2nd floor, of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex in Kingsport.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Hawkins high school students helping revive Swift's May Day tradition


Jeff Bobo• May 4, 2016 at 1:48 PM

ROGERSVILLE — For decades, the annual May Day celebration, featuring a picnic and a variety of fun activities, was a spring tradition for students at the historic Swift College and high school
The highlight was always the wrapping of the Maypole, which the girls performed wearing their best dresses.

It’s been more than 60 years since the all-African-American Swift College closed and more than 50 years since the main facility, which was converted into a segregated high school and closed its doors in 1964, was demolished.

But the May Day celebration remains one of the fondest memories of alumni, and about five years ago they revived the tradition with an annual May Day outing at Rogersville City Park.

On Saturday, however, the alumni hope to begin the process of passing the tradition to the younger generations.
For the first time since the celebration was revived, there has been a concerted effort to get students from Cherokee and Volunteer high schools involved.

Stella Gudger, who attended Swift after it became a high school, is now the Swift College Museum curator and helps organize alumni events.

The original May Day celebrations were held at Swift Park.

“Nobody knows when it started because there was always a May Day celebration as far back as anyone could remember,” Gudger said. “It was an annual event started by the college, and after the college ceased to be, and the campus became a high school, of course the high school kids were more than happy to carry on the tradition.”

Gudger recalled, “We would always wrap the Maypole. That was the big thing. The girls would dress up in their prettiest dresses, and they would match the color of the ribbons on the Maypole. We would also have a fashion show, and girls who took home economics, we would actually model our outfits that we made during the year. We had a baseball game and a picnic, and it was just a full day of activities.”

Saturday’s event at Rogersville City Park had a full slate of activities as well, although there was no baseball game on the schedule. Gudger said she hopes to expand the program every year as more people become interested in participating.

Saturday’s event featured a cake auction, bingo, live music and dancing.

A drawing was held that awarded a $200 scholarship to a student from each high school.

The highlight of Saturday’s event was the wrapping of the Maypole, and this year’s participants were seniors from Cherokee and Volunteer. Students from Clinch were invited as well, but they already had an event scheduled, Gudger said.

After the day’s activities, everyone reconvened at the Price Public Community Center and Swift Museum at 6 p.m. for an evening of entertainment and relaxation.


“Each high picked four girls to participate in the wrapping of the Maypole, and they wore their prom dresses,” Gudger said. “We’re really trying to be more diversified. We want people to know about the history of Swift and our preservation efforts, and that’s why we’re inviting everyone to come out and share the May Day celebration with us.”




Friday, May 6, 2016

The Great Golden Gathering 2015 Banquet DVD's are available!

Last year, alumni from 15 former African-American high schools from Big Stone Gap and
Appalachia, down to Bristol, Kingsport, Johnson City and Greeneville, on up to Rogersville, then down to Morristown, Newport and Jefferson City and reaching Knoxville.... all got together and celebrated their combined legacies at the first Great Golden Gathering 2015.

Now you can have a souvenir of the banquet that celebrated the good times the schools had back in the day. The banquet, held on August 29, 2015, had songs, laughter, friendly school rivalries, a special message from Rev. Jesse Jackson, and a moving speech by Tennessee NAACP president Gloria Sweet-Love.

The DVD's are $15.00 apiece and is a must for folks' history collections.

To get one, or reserve a copy, please see Andra Watterson with the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association, or any alumni member with any of the 15 alumni associations representing the schools:

Bland (Appalachia-Central), Big Stone Gap
Arty-Lee High School
Douglass, Bristol VA
Slater, Bristol TN
Douglas, Elizabethton
Langston, Johnson City
Douglass, Kingsport
Swift, Rogersville
George Clem, Greeneville
Morristown West (Morristown College), Morristown
Tanner, Newport
Nelson Merry, Jefferson City
Austin, Knoxville

(Arty-Lee, George Clem, Morristown, Tanner, Nelson Merry, and Austin alumni, please contact Calvin Sneed,>

Great Golden Gathering Banquet DVD's Now Available!

It was the highlight of the biggest reunion of African-American alumni in all of Upper East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

Last year, alumni from 15 former African-American high schools from Big Stone Gap and 

Appalachia, down to Bristol, Kingsport, Johnson City and Greeneville, on up to Rogersville, then down to Morristown, Newport and Jefferson City and reaching Knoxville.... all got together and celebrated their combined legacies at the first Great Golden Gathering 2015.

Now you can have a souvenir of the banquet that celebrated the good times the schools had back in the day.  The banquet, held on August 29, 2015, had songs, laughter, friendly school rivalries, a special message from Rev. Jesse Jackson, and a moving speech by Tennessee NAACP president Gloria Sweet-Love.

The DVD's are $15.00 apiece and is a must for folks' history collections.  

To get one, or reserve a copy, please see Andra Watterson with the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association, or any alumni member with any of the 15 alumni associations representing the schools:

Bland (Appalachia-Central), Big Stone Gap

Arty-Lee High School 
Douglass, Bristol VA
Slater, Bristol TN
Douglas, Elizabethton
Langston, Johnson City
Douglass, Kingsport
Swift, Rogersville
George Clem, Greeneville
Morristown West (Morristown College), Morristown
Tanner, Newport 
Nelson Merry, Jefferson City 
Austin, Knoxville

(Arty-Lee, George Clem, Morristown, Tanner, Nelson Merry, and Austin alumni, please contact Calvin Sneed,

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Upcoming Golf Tournament Benefits Alumni Scholarship Fund


One of the biggest golf tournaments in the area will be hosted in Kingsport this month.  In addition to a good game of golf, lucky patrons will also get the chance to bid on designer handbags, professional sports items, and plans are in the works for a hole-in-one on one particular shot, could net one lucky golfer A BRAND NEW CAR!

And the best part?  Proceeds benefit the scholarship fund for the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association.

"It's all about helping the kids," says Gary Maxwell, co-organizer of the event.  "If the kids can get into college, they'll make productive citizens.  We hope the scholarships will help them get to that goal."

The Alumni Scholarship Golf Tournament will be held on Saturday, May 21st at Warriors Path State Park in Kingsport.  Maxwell says, the tournament will take up to 32 teams, and right now 12 teams are committed to play.

"The driver range opens at 12:30 PM," he says, "then a shotgun start at 1 PM.  Each team consists of 4 members, modified select, that includes each player hitting three drives, three approach shots, and three putts.  The cost is $55 dollars per person individual, or $250 dollars for a team signing up together."

"It's going to be a good day to play golf," Maxwell says.

Members of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass will be helping out at the golf course that day.

Then there are the 'goodies' that come along with the tournament.

"We'll be raffling off some major league baseball sports items, also some NFL, NBA and NASCAR things," he says.  "One of the Detroit Tigers pitchers, Daniel Norris from Johnson City, is donating some items for us to raffle off.  I've also talked to (Washington Nationals Baseball right fielder) Bryce Harper about donating to us some sunglasses he promotes.  We'll also have tickets that have been donated, to the night NASCAR race at the Bristol Motor Speedway."

And then... there's the possibility of a new car for one golfer.

"We are very close to securing a donation for a hole-in-one, on Number 14, which will play about 180," Maxwell says.  "There's never been a hole-in-one right there.  The prize is a brand new car, valued between $20,000 and $25,000 dollars.  All the winner has to do if they drop one, is pay the taxes, title and insurance.  There's no additional cost to win the car."

For the ladies, two special raffles give them the chance to sport one of two name-brand handbags worth hundreds of dollars.

"The first one is a blue Michael Kors luxury handbag with a strap, and the other is a striped Prada that also has a strap," says Charlotte Maxwell, who secured them.  "The quality of the leather is what makes them so special.. it's a very soft texture.  You can always tell the originals by the stitching and the solid gold handles and markings on them."

Tickets for the raffles to win one of the handbags are $5.00 apiece.

"Names, address and phone numbers are important," she says, if folks want to enter the raffles.  "If we aren't able to do the raffles at the golf tournament, we'll do them at one of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass alumni meetings, then call that person and let them know they've won."

All in all, a wonderful golf tournament for the people who play, two fantastic handbags for the ladies who don't play golf, plus plenty of food for visitors to eat while watching the tournament, and snacks for the golfers. 

But the kids going off to college, will be the real winners.

"They are our next generation," Maxwell says.  "A lot of kids need financial help once they get to school, if they're unable to get it through the lottery or their parents cannot afford it."

"Everybody who participates in the golf tournament, no matter how they do it, will help some kids who may really need it," he says.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Celebrate our DB Graduates

The Class of 2016 and their parents, friends and the neighborhood cordially invite you to a graduation ceremony honoring our community graduates.

The event will be Saturday, May 14, 2016 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM in the Riverview Community Room on Wheatley Street (beside the tennis courts) in Kingsport.

We hope to see you there as we congratulate our 2016 Dobyns-Bennett High School Seniors from the community.

Refreshments will be served and pictures will be taken.

Parents, please RSVP by Sunday, May 10th to Johnnie Mae Swagerty (423) 427-7553, Jaquetta Hale (423) 579-4651, Mrs. Jill Ellis (423) 246-3524, or Doug Releford (423) 288-6040.

Thank you for your support!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Board Meeting Scheduled

There will be a meeting of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Board of Directors on Saturday, April 9, 2016.

The meeting will be in the Eastman Board Room, 2nd floor of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex, beginning at 1 PM.

On the agenda are final preparations for our huge Golf Tournament next month.

All board members and interest alumni are asked to attend the board meeting.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Kingsport BMA honors former alderman Richard Watterson



KINGSPORT — Richard Watterson was the first African-American elected to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, serving for 24 years, with more than half of his tenure in the position of vice mayor.

On Tuesday, city leaders recognized Watterson for his long and “tireless” service to the Model City by proclaiming April 6 “Richard Watterson Day.” The BMA also offered Watterson an early birthday wish — he turns 90 next month.

“Richard Watterson is an individual who has taught our community that leadership is about action, being a true community trustee, and meeting the need placed before you,” Vice Mayor Mike McIntire said, reading from the proclamation.

The proclamation came at the beginning of the BMA’s regular meeting Tuesday night. Watterson, who was accompanied by his wife Barbara and other family members, sat in the front row and stayed for the entire hour-long meeting.

“Richard and I go back 66 years,” said Alderman Tom Parham. “He’s been a model, a mentor and a friend for a lot of years.”

“I raised him from a pup,” Watterson joked.

Watterson graduated from Douglass High School, attended Swift Memorial Jr. College and Livingston College in Salisbury, N.C., and served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 through 1946, with most of his time spent on the USS Nassau.

According to the proclamation, Watterson served on a number of state and local boards, including the state Board of Legal Services, the Board of Directors of the Kingsport Boy’s Club, was the state commissioner for human development, the first chairman of the Riverview Branch Boy’s Club, the president of the Esquire Club, and a member of the Kiwanis Club and Optimist Club.

Watterson first won election to the BMA in 1973 — the first African-American to do so. He served until 1997 and during his long tenure on the board, he served as vice mayor from 1981 to 1995. According to the proclamation, Watterson garnered the top vote count during many of those city elections.

“During his service on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Richard was a tireless leader for growth and modernization,” McIntire said, with the proclamation further describing Watterson as having “many talents and abundant community spirit.”

“We wish to uphold and commend the important part he has played in the life of our city,” McIntire said.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Power out in parts of Kingsport on Good Friday

A major power outage this morning is effecting dozens of Kingsport residents and briefly shut down Kingsport Emergency Communications Center's phone system (911).

Major power outage effects Kingsport Emergency Communications Center
Around 5:45 AM Friday morning, a major power outage in downtown Kingsport effected dozens of homes and several businesses.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

New Vision Youth Fish Fry on Good Friday


KINGSPORT — New Vision Youth will host a Fish Fry Fundraiser on Good Friday from noon until sold out at the Riverview Community Room, located beside the tennis courts on Wheatley Street.

Several different types of sandwiches will be available for purchase as well as chips and drinks.

All proceeds go to support the cost of New Vision Youth’s educational cultural trip to Savannah, Ga., in July.

For more information, call (423) 429-7553 or (423) 579-4651.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Alumni Board Meeting

The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board will meet Saturday, March 19, 2016 in the Eastman Board Room of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex tower.

The meeting will convene at 1 PM.

‘Kicking Butts’

About 30 children participated in the annual ‘Kick Butts Day’ on Wednesday at the VO Dobbins Community Center in Kingsport.

The event — now in its 15th year — included an essay contest (on why tobacco and smoking are bad), drawings and a pizza party. 

Kids learned from local health and education officials about the dangers of smoking and tobacco use and took a pledge not to do either when they grow up. 

On Kick Butts Day, kids demand that tobacco companies stop marketing products to them and encourage elected officials to help reduce youth tobacco use. 

In the picture above (courtesy the Kingsport Times-News) above, participants take turns ‘kicking’ a punching bag to show how they plan to ‘kick butts’ and not start smoking. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Board Meeting

The scheduled meeting of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board of Directors is postponed from this Saturday, March 12th.

The rescheduled meeting will be held on Saturday, March 19, 2016 in the Eastman Board Room of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Complex tower at 1 PM.

Please make plans to attend.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Long-awaited plan to extend MLK Drive: Another option in and out of Riverview

"They promised us that MLK Drive would be extended almost 10 years ago when they renamed it after Dr. King.  And then they just didn't do it."

The Riverview resident who unveiled the new street sign at the renaming of Lincoln Street between Wilcox Drive and Dunbar Street, says it's been frustrating watching the city do other road projects, but not finish the one that benefits the Riverview community.

The city of Kingsport has now announced plans to extend Dr. Martin Luther King Drive with an extention into the newly opened Brickyard Park and then on to the Cherokee Street/CSX Railroad crossing downtown.

Jack Pierce, Sr. did the unveiling of the renamed street on January 21, 2008. 

"I thought it was a wonderful thing," he remembers, "and the thought of expanding it to downtown was good, too.  Mayor (Dennis) Phillips had said he was in favor of extending the street to downtown.  We'd been wanting it in Riverview for a long time because there are only two ways in and out of here, Lincoln and Wheatley Street and both of them are on the same side of the neighborhood."

But then, efforts to extend the street past the dead end at Dunbar Street abruptly stopped.  With no explanation, Pierce says.

"It was like they just shut the idea down," he says.  "They just didn't talk about it anymore.  It was very frustrating.  They never said 'well we'll do it next year,' or 'we ran out of money,' or 'we've got another priority that we have to spend the money on.'  We could have understood it over here if they'd just said something, anything.  But they just said nothing and never mentioned it again.'

In a February 24, 2016 article in the Kingsport Times-News about a city public works presentation on upcoming road projects, it was mentioned that one of the three projects the city will begin next year, is extending Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive to Brickyard Park, and to Cherokee Street where it crosses the CSX Railroad.  The project is expected to cost $1.5 million dollars.

"It's a little surprising to me that it took Brickyard Park to get the ball rolling on extending MLK," Pierce says.  "Would the city have done it, without the park?  That's a good question.  All of these projects they proposed, that didn't have something to kick-start them.. they wanted sidewalks on Stone Drive.  How many people walk on Stone Drive?  They wanted a bike lane on Center Street, so they narrowed it down to 2 lanes and put in those bike lanes.  You might not see a bike a day on Center Street."

Today he wonders why the street wasn't extended, even while the brickyard was operating (General Shale shut down its Kingsport operations in 2009.

Pierce says, for years Riverview residents had to go in the opposite direction to get to downtown.. first east on Lincoln, then north on Wilcox under the railroad underpass, then north on Sullivan to Main Street and downtown.  "We never asked for anything the city didn't promise us," he says.  "Just fulfill your promise to the folks here."

Efforts to reach the city to get specifics about when the road construction begins and where the long-awaited route will be, were unsuccessful.  Right now, there's no news about it, except that according to the newspaper article, construction begins sometime next year.

Pierce says, one day, he'd like to see the name 'Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive,' extended the entire length of Lincoln Street to the John B. Dennis Bypass.

"In Bristol, Virginia Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard runs from the black neighborhood on through downtown, crosses the state line and connects to Bristol, Tennessee's black neighborhood.  I was hoping they would have taken MLK all the way out.  Right now, it's just a black neighborhood thing in Kingsport, maybe 3, 4 blocks long.  Dr. King's name is recognized around the country and around the world.. his work transcends out of the black community.  Taking the street named after him out of the black neighborhood is acknowledging the influence that he had on everyone."

Pierce says, he's not worried that the upcoming extension of MLK Drive into Brickyard Park and to downtown will increase the traffic in the Riverview Community.

"There'll be some traffic with Eastman people using it as a shortcut," he says, "and maybe some baseball people using it to get to the park and not Industry Drive.  I would think that most of the traffic will probably still use Industry Drive and the new entrance at the Cherokee Street crossing."

"After all these years, I'm just glad the city is fulfilling its promise," he says.  "It's all we ever wanted them to do."

Friday, February 26, 2016

Don't Forget Board Meeting on Saturday

The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association's Board will meet on Saturday, February 27, 2016, in the Eastman Board Room of the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex.

The meeting starts at 1 PM. 

Board members and interested parties are asked to be present.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Black History Program Postponed

The annual Black History program scheduled for the Lamplighter Theater has been postponed because of bad weather moving through upper East Tennessee tonight.

We'll let you know when it will be rescheduled.

As of 4 PM Sunday, February 14th, this is the scene of Kingsport from Bays Mountain, courtesy of WCYB-TV.

Click on the picture to make it larger.

Only a few buildings can be seen at the bottom of the picture.

Probably not a good idea to get out at all.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board Meeting Rescheduled

Saturday's meeting of the Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board in Kingsport has been rescheduled because of the threat of bad weather.

The board meeting will now be on Saturday, February 27, 2016, in the Douglass Community Room at the V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex in Riverview, promptly at 1 PM.

Please mark your calendars and plan to be there!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Douglass Alumni at the 2016 Kingsport Chamber of Commerce Banquet

It wasn't that long ago that the city of Kingsport was celebrating construction that many people thought would never happen.

It was the renovation project that saved the historic Douglass High School from the wrecking ball.  It also raised awareness of Kingsport's African-American community with its neatly-kept yards, well-mannered homes, and God-fearing people who, until then, felt one step behind the growth of the city.

The V.O. Dobbins, Sr. Complex opened its doors to all of Kingsport, and also its doors to history.

As Kingsport nears its 100th birthday, the theme of OneKingsport has the community celebrating its heritage, and a number of construction projects were honored by the city's Chamber of Commerce at its annual banquet on Saturday night, February 5, 2016.

Two of them have Riverview connections.

Eastman Chemical is nearing completion of its five-story global corporate business center, that is Riverview's next door neighbor. Estimated cost of the project is $74.3 million dollars and is the city's largest single building permit.


Also on the list, Brickyard Park which opened this past year beside Riverview, on the site of what local folklore has always referred to as 'Clay Hill.'  Paying homage to Riverview's former 'unofficial playground,' the largest baseball field will carry the name "Clay Hill Field."  The new recreation area costing $6.9 million dollars replaced the Eastman ballfields located on the site of the new corporate business center.

The Chamber touts the annual banquet as the largest annual Chamber of Commerce dinner in the country.  It was a sold-out crowd of more than 1,700 guests.

Douglass alumni were seen hob-knobbing with Kingsport's movers and shakers.  In attendance at the Sons and Daughters of Douglass table were Doug and Vivian Releford, Judy Blye, Thelma Waterson, Rodney Bradley, Wallace Ross, Jr. and Calvin Sneed.  Elsewhere were seen Van and Dorothy Dobbins.

They, along with the other guests feasted on grilled French pork chops, rice casserole, sweet potatos, and two berry ice cake.

Later, guests partied on the moon with... "Party On The Moon." The hit party band had everybody on their feet, dancing off the weight of what they'd just eaten, with a blend of old soul, new dance, and R & B!

The touch of old soul and R & B got into the memories of our folks.  There was just no sitting down when the favorites of old started reverberating through the halls of the Meadowview Convention Center's largest banquet hall.

As you can see, "Party On The Moon" got everybody into a party mood:

The Kingsport Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet, 2016.

It was one night... one moment....


The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Association was proud to be a part of the celebration!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

"Coty" and Bob Deering: A Tribute to One of Douglass's Most "En-DEERING" Couples

In February, 2011 Douglass High School Football Coach Bob Deering passed away at his home in Westbury, New York.  His wife Coletta, affectionately known as "Coty" was, as she has always been, by his side.  His ability to push athletes to the best of their caliber was well-known and well-documented in the annals of the old Tri-State Athletic Conference, of which all the former African-American high schools in upper East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia belonged to.

On January 31, 2016, his beloved "Coty" joined him in eternity, passing away.

The following is a never-published interview we did with Coty Deering and pictures of her at the couple's home in Westbury, on Long Island east of New York City.  Bob Deering had only passed away less than a year before.  As was her practice and even though we tried, Coty Deering never liked talking about herself, always deferring to the relationship she had with her late husband, as one.

How are you doing?

I'm doing fine.  I'm enduring all the changes that come along with being a senior citizen, like having problems with my eyes.  I recently had that taken care of, and hopefully for the best.  It's basically cataracts and glaucoma.

With Bob, I just couldn't see going to have surgery, so I just said I'd wait until I have a little more time to have it done.  I kept putting it off and putting it off and Bob was my excuse.  Even though he's gone, I'm still using that excuse because I'm scared (laughs).  The doctor wants to do surgery on the right eye.

Bob wouldn't let me be selfish.  He kept saying to me 'you gotta have this done,' and I would go to look for a spot to have it done, and then he'd say 'well, maybe we ought to wait until next week.'  He was still wanting to be 'Number One,' but we knew it had to be done sometime.  I just had other priorities, and he was it (laughs).

Do you miss him?

Oh Lord, yes.  Yeah.... He used to be such a pain in the neck and I wanted to wring his neck sometimes.  But he was my pain in the neck.  I miss him so much.

He got worse as he got sick, as most people do.  People start losing hope and start getting irritated because they can't do what they used to do.  I was fortunate enough to be able to appreciate what he was going through, but sometimes he could be exasperating.

Even with all that, I still miss him.

I look at his pictures every day and listen to the music I put together for his funeral.. I play that every time I get a chance.  He was just crazy about this particular CD.  Sometimes I'd be in another part of the house and he'd be sitting there at the table I had set up for his entertainment... he had his computer and his materials beside him and I would be upstairs trying to make up the bed and all of a sudden I'd hear 'Coty, Coty, COTY!'  It'd scare me to death.  I'd come rushing back down here, 'yeah Bob, what's the matter?'  He'd go 'put my music on for me.' 

I got him back, though.  I put that music on for his funeral... that's what I played.  When the service was over and all our friends were trying to talk to me, they were saying 'Coty, that was such a unique service,' said 'it was just beautiful.'  One friend told me the poetry in you just came out.'  My best friend who came down from Connecticut to put together my music for me the play the proper song at the right time, said 'Coty.. what I don't understand is, how on earth did you ever think of that?'  I said 'I don't know, Gigi.. I really don't know.'

I was sitting in the family room trying to figure it out, because Bob was not a church-going man.  He'd go to church if I had something going on there, a program or something... he'd go to support me and things like that.

That man hounded me about that CD for months and I think, maybe six months later after everything was over, I think that's when it started hitting me that me selecting that music was the right thing to do because I knew Bob liked it.  It really had nothing to do with me at all, but it was divine action.  My girlfriend had heard it and sent it to me.. I played it (Bob always said 'you play your music too loud) so that he could hear it upstairs and he got to liking it.  He'd come down or sometimes he'd ask me to come downstairs to turn it on, or come upstairs and turn it on. 

He loved that music so much.

Being the perfectionist that his players always said that he was, what do you think he would have thought of his funeral service?

It was him.  It was all him.  He probably wouldn't have changed a thing, probably would have said 'I don't believe how you did all this in such a short period of time,' but he knew I had the gift of gab (laughs).  When the program came down to acknowledgements, I didn't put anybody's name on the program on purpose because I wanted my niece and nephew to do it.  They were coming in from Long Beach, California and we'd just had a big snowstorm here in Westbury.. it was in the dead of winter.  I didn't know if they would be here in time for the service or not and I was afraid to put their names down for fear at the last minute, I might have to ask somebody else to do it if they didn't make it in time.  The minister told me I had done a wonderful job of getting everything set up.

I knew then that God had sent me in the right direction.  I was a little worried at first, but that set me at ease.

It was a military funeral.  Bob had been in the Air Force as a corporal.  He wasn't in there long.  I told him many times over our marriage that he only went in when he knew it was safe.  The war was over in 1945 and Bob and his best buddy went in service soon after that.  I kidded him that they were scared to go in before the war was over (laughs.  They knew they wouldn't have to go overseas.  He knew my sense of humor and we laughed about it all the time... that was the kind of relationship that we had.

Thank God we had humor, 'cause we had some rough times both in healthy times and the unhealthy times.

When we had to put him in hospice, I signed the papers because he had moved beyond the kid of care that would have helped him.. he passed away in February of 2011.

At the funeral when I got up to acknowledge everybody, they all thought I was going to read cards and things.  I thanked them all for taking time out of their schedules to be there for him and for coming out on this blustery winter day, we had gotten 20 inches of snow on the ground.  I told them, 'to me, Bob was an oak tree.  His development came from the support of people like you.  He had beautiful branches in his life, all the time he was growing up, and this beautiful oak tree that I married, would be the members of the Lipscomb and the Deering families, his mother and father's side,' and I had them all stand up.  That was his home family.  Then I said, 'on the other side of the tree and the branches, would the members of the Palmer family, my family stand up.'  I kept going and naming off branches of this big oak tree that was Bob Deering, family, co-workers and friends, golf players and ex-football players, neighbors and everybody else who had touched his life.  It was really nice.

I think I pulled it off, but I was still in a state of shock.

Everybody sure did love him because they had been touched by something he did, or something he said.

I got a beautiful note from one of his kids that played football for him... he lives in D.C. and he wrote me the most beautiful note, talking about how much Bob had inspired him and some of the things he'd taught him.  It had helped him become a grown man.

It's a beautiful thing to be remembered like that.

Tell me about Kingsport and Douglass High School.

Kingsport was Bob's first job.  He loved those kids that came through Douglass.  That was his connection to them.  He really loved them.  I think he saw in them, a place where he had been as a young man.  Bob had dropped out of college and decided he wasn't going back... that's when he and his buddy went off to the Army.  When he came back, his buddies went off to college, but he decided to run the streets... have a good time running with the boys working the coal mines in West Virginia who didn't go off to college.  Then, all of a sudden, he found out just how hard that life was.  That inspired him to go back to school.  Even until the last year of his job as a teacher, he would always remind his students to go to college and get the best rest of their education.  Many of his students have told me over the years 'Mr. Deering saved my life with that advice.'  He could identify with what they might end up going through and he gave them the knowledge that what they did at their high school graduations, could be very important... that THEY are important.  That when they come out of high school, they've got to go on to something better because if they don't, they won't be able to get jobs.  He was so far advanced.  A lot of football coaches as teachers would do A+B+C+D and that would be the end of it.  Bob would put something on there a little more personal toward his students, and he did it all of his teaching career. 

I had students come by and they would tell me 'Mrs. Deering, if it weren't for Mr. Deering, I don't know where I'd be today.'

He taught at Glencoe High School here in New York for 25 years, but while in Kingsport and Douglass, there wasn't much for him to do.  When the Douglass teams weren't playing, he'd be with the other coaches at Johnson City or Bristol playing poker.  He knew they were on the throes of getting rid of Douglass and he saw what was coming.  It really didn't bother him... I think he understood why the school was closing.

There was a rule in Kingsport that husbands and wives couldn't work together at the same school, so while he was teaching and coaching at Douglass, I got on as a secretary... there was only one black school in Kingsport, so where else was I going to work?  Nobody else would hire me.  Eventually, I got on with a school in Kentucky run by Horace Curry's father, and Bob would drop me off on Sunday night, then pick me up again on Friday's.  I only taught there a year and Mr. Curray wanted me to sign on for another year, but then I got a secretary job at Tennessee Eastman and went to work there.

If there is one last thing Bob Deering could have told his students, what would it have been?

It would have been 'boy, I sure did enjoy you kids.  I enjoyed working with you... you made my day... you made my year.'  He really loved those kids.  He put his heart into teaching them.  If he saw somebody not applying themselves, he'd say 'what are you doing, guy?  Where are you working now?  You can't do no better than that?'  That was the kind of person he was.  He was always trying to prod them to do better... encourage them to go on and do something better with their lives.

I remember when Mr. Deering and Mr. Gill would find boys smoking in the boys bathroom.  You'd see them coming down the hall towards the office.  Mr. Deering would have one or two of them by the arm and Mr. Gill would have one or two by the arm or the collar, marching them down to see Mr. Dobbins.

Mr. Gill was one of my best friends.  The first year that Bob was coaching at Douglass, he was taking the team up to Williamson, West Virginia, my hometown, to play a game.  Remember 'The Hatfields and the McCoys?'  That was less than 30 miles from where I was born and raised.  Well Bob had brought the boys up to Williamson one day in March to play basketball against my former high school.  We were due back in Kingsport that Sunday.  Mr. Gill had scheduled the Douglass School Chorus to sing at some event in Johnson City on Monday, and a lot of the basketball players also sang in the chorus.  

Because of a snowstorm that occurred while we were in Williamson, we had to literally crawl back over those mountains down through Kentucky and Virginia to get back home to Kingsport.  Mr. Gill was sitting over there at the school on pins and needles.  He was so mad at Bob he didn't know what to do (laughs).  He was sweating bullets, scared that Bob wasn't going to get back in time with the boys.

Duke Gray was one of them.. Donnie Willie Jones was in the chorus, Major Burnette was there I think.  Mr. Gill was upset because it was going to mess up his singing event.

I've seen Mr. Gill mad so many times and the memories come back to me so quickly.

Bob and I had good times and bad times in Kingsport.  I've always focused on the good times, because in life if you focus on the bad things, you'll never remember the good times.  

I'm so glad that the Douglass alumni have stayed together as a group.  It was really a good school that cared for its students and I'm glad that Bob had a part of that.  I just hope I was a good secretary (laughs).