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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Kathryn "Chi Chi" White Passing

Kathryn White, 64, of Kingsport passed away Saturday, March 31, 2012.

Arrangements will be announced by Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Homes, Kingsport, and will be published in the PASSINGS AND OBITUARIES link on the website.

Please visit to leave an on-line condolence for the family.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Good eggs

Senior participants and members of New Vision Youth, at right, start the annual ‘Wishes to Wisdom’ Easter egg hunt Thursday afternoon at the Renaissance Center. Members of New Vision Youth helped senior participants find eggs and other prizes.


At left, Natalie Ray and Sandi Thomasson look for eggs around the Renaissance Center. The event was sponsored by the Kingsport Senior Center, New Vision Youth, South Central Kingsport and the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Clean-up Riverview & Xavier "Tim" Hall Food Sale Fundraiser

Saturday, March 31st.
Clean-up starts at 10 AM, food sale starts at 11:30 AM (chicken, hot dogs)
Events start at the Picnic Shelter, V.O. Dobbins/Douglass Ballfield,
Louis Street, Kingsport.
Proceeds benefit the family of the late Xavier "Tim" Hall, Kingsport comedian
Sponsored by the DB Ebony Club Alumni Association and Friends of Riverview
For more information, contact Johnnie Mae Swagerty, 423-429-7553 or
Corky Bly, 423-276-1502.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

‘Wishes to Wisdom’ Easter egg hunt set

• KINGSPORT — The annual “Wishes to Wisdom” Easter egg hunt will be held at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Renaissance Center. The event is sponsored by the Kingsport Senior Center, New Vision Youth, South Central Kingsport and the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Department. For more information, contact Johnnie Mae Swaggerty at 429-7553, Jeannie Hodges at 247-2371, Chassy Smiley at 224-2428 or Michelle Tolbert at 392-8400.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Note Received For the Family and Friends of Xavier "Tim" Hall

On Behalf of Pastor William R. W. "Ray" Douglas, Jr.

Please accept the attached letter of condolence for the Hall Family. As a classmate, friend and clergy man, I am saddened that I cannot join you in the services for my great friend, this great Man of God and champion for the community. If you are in need of anything, please do not hesitate to call our church office as we are here to service all who desire to be served.

Thank you and God Bless!


Deliverance Temple
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
P.O. Box 70146
Washington, DC 20024


The Rev. W. Ray Douglas, Jr., Pastor
"A Dwelling Place of God Where You Can Receive Your Deliverance."

Friday, March 23, 2012

Xavier "Tim" Hall - "Sometimes, You Just Gotta Let God Take Control of Things"

National comedian Xavier "Tim" Hall, Kingsport's own Crown Prince of Comedy, talks about life, death, family, and how a removed brain tumor gave him a whole new outlook on life. This unedited interview in his Kingsport home with my questions in all caps, was done with the Douglass website just a couple of weeks ago for a March benefit gospel concert to help defray his medical and family bills. This would be the last public interview Tim would ever do.. he passed away on Monday, March 19, 2012 from the lingering effects of brain surgery. But here he is, still cracking jokes and having a good time being interviewed, but with a renewed purpose in his life. He'll be in our hearts forever --- EDITOR


Calvin, I feel real good now. It's been weeks now after the initial surgery. I have my good days and my bad days.


I have to take every day as it comes. One day, I did try to get out and look around, but it was way too soon.. it was before my time. My biggest sunshine is when it's rehab time on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 'cause I can get out and go somewhere. I enjoy those days. I get my little walker and watch people.


The surgery was very successful. I got to the rehab center, Dr. Little had told me and my brother that it was a 5 per cent chance of my survival, but I was in that 5 per cent. They removed the tumor completely, no radiation, no chemo is needed at this time. I am really blessed to be in my position.. God is a good God.


I had been having problems, and this whole thing came about from a co-worker. We had challenged each other to grow a long beard for men's health, but I didn't know something else would develop from it. I was trying to, you know, get my beard on, and I had this hiccup problem. My co-worker was like, Xavier, get that fixed.' I said, 'it's not heartburn,' because it was a real deep hiccup. He said 'you gotta get that fixed.' One day back in November, I picked up this magazine and it was talking about men's health, and I got to thinking that I had been having these headaches, my fingers had been going numb, my tongue was numb, I was walking to the side a little bit.

I said to myself, 'Tim.. it's time to get yourself checked.'



I turned 39 years old in the hospital.


Yeah, I know it. They tested me for diabetes, they tested me for everything. I kept telling my physician, 'm'amm, I'm sick.. something's wrong.' Finally on December 17th, she called me, said I got an MRI scheduled for 4 o'clock. I told the people on my job.. they were always looked at me as if 'why you always tired?' I'd be doing something and then have to stop and throw up. I had kids newly in daycare and I thought that maybe I was getting what they were bringing home. That day, I went to the hospital, and aboujt 5 o'clock, my doctor came out and said 'I need you to drink this 'cause I think we found something in your brain.' I thought 'what?' It was getting late in the day, and we had scheduled a weekend away in Charlotte (North Carolina), we were going to see some good friends in Charlotte. I found out about 7 o'clock, she came back and I said, 'are you going to let me go?' and she said 'no, the doctor who did the MRI wants to talk to you.'



I was by myself.. I had come right after I got off work. My fiancee Jessica didn't even know about the appointment I had at the hospital.. I work right across the street from it, and when I got home, we were just going to go to Charlotte. The doctor said 'look at this,' and he showed me the X-ray.. he told me the tumor was about the size of a nickel and it was right behind my brain, close to my spine. I said 'wow.' He said it needed to be removed before Christmas. He said 'is there anybody living with you right now?' I was really, really scared. To be honest, I did cry in the hospital, but when I got outside Calvin, I just broke down, 'cause it was like 'what's going on with me?' It was before Christmas, what do I do, my family.. what do I tell 'em, I got these kids.


So just any man who's trying to get his life right, I called my pastor, Reverend Donny Wade. He prayed for me right then, and honestly Calvin, right after we got off that phone, a sense of calm came over me. I'm talking jitteriness left me. Fear left me. I went home and we went on to Charlotte, had a good time. The next Tuesday, I went to my mama's 'cause I couldn't get an appointment for the surgery. I went to her Christmas party, and I didn't tell anybody then 'cause we had the family thing. The reason I didn't tell anybody was 'cause I didn't want to mess with anybody's holiday. I got little girls and I didn't want to ruin their Christmas, and I knew that God was in control of this. There was something about prayer, something about letting it go, released me. I knew everything was gonna be all right. I had finally got the sense to let go and leave it to God.

When I was a young man, when I was running.. I didn't have time to think a lot about getting sick. But He gave me the strength to see what was wrong, so I could run and see what the end was gonna look like, I had never really given that much thought. Now I know.

When I went back during the week of the (December) 30th, they wanted to get the surgery scheduled as soon as possible 'cause they were afraid the tumor was going to expand, so they put me on some kind of antibiotics to keep the swelling down. On the 30th, I was in the hospital. I had complications with the surgery. I had jerked one of the tubes out and I woke up with it out, and they had to put me back out and put the tube back in. At that time, you don't know what you're doing, you don't know where you are. I do remember waking up and couldn't breathe, and that was the scariest part of my life. 3 or 4 seconds of waking up and looking around, and trying to take breath, trying to gasp that air and you're telling yourself, 'breathe... breathe' and then I was out again.

It was scary. I was real close to checking out. Calvin, that three or 4 seconds of waking up and trying to take in air and not taking in enough to breathe. Trying to gasp it in.


Oh yeah.. That three or four seconds. That's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life... was trying to just.. breathe. Then, I went back out. Back to sleep. My family was in the waiting room.. they didn't know about it until 6 or 7 that night that 'hey, he had some complications, you can go see him in a minute.'

I'm now working with my neurologist, having to learn how to use my tongue again to form words., how to use my legs to make steps.. a burp is new to me.. swallowing is new to me.. sticking my tongue out.. anything that we take for granted every day, is a new experience that I have to learn all over again how to do. Now when I get out and I see people, I watch 'em eat a hamburger and I want to slap 'em silly 'cause I want one (laughs)..


Now?.. My average day for me is getting up and I try to do some of the rehab exercises they put me on, 'cause I can't wait for them to get here to do them with me all the time. It's hard for me to eat anything, so I wait to get 'plugged up' as I call it, and get fed. Pretty much after that, I'm a TV Guide.. if you want to know what's on, I can tell you from 9 to 7 o'clock at night. I'll tell you something.. I can't eat nothing, but I sit up here and watch the Food Channel all day long (laughs). 'Can't eat a thing, but I watch that Food Channel all..... day..... long (laughs).


Oh man, you just don't know. We went out on Valentine's Day, and bless their hearts, my family did not want to go. I'm like 'let's go out.. let's celebrate.' My daughter said 'we feel bad eating in front of you, and you can't eat anything.' Even though we went to I-HOP and had a good time.. they ate and we enjoyed it. Honestly Calvin, not eating for so long made me so humble.. so appreciative of the little things we take for granted. It makes you want to thank God for just being here and doing the little things. To look at a plate and knowing that you can't eat anything on it.

Once I did sneak a red drink from Krystal's and didn't tell anybody. Well I couldn't swallow it all, it went in my throat amd they knew, because next thing, it was all down my shirt (laughs). I learned my lesson from that.. what you can do, do.. what you can't, don't do it if you're not ready.


I don't know, but I had red juice everywhere. When I get well, I'm going over there and have me an extra large (laughs).


I did learn my lesson. My pleasure now is to bless those people who are in my situation. Bless those people who are still now in the rehab. Now, I need to focus on my goal plans. I can have fun, I can eat food, and I can act stupid (laughs). Right now, I'm having to eat pudding, everything pureeded or mashed up. I can have a hamburger without the bun. You shoulda seen me when I went to rehab last week.. I was chomping all over the place. They gave these little swab things that are made out of linen. I said, 'girl, you got me some suckers for the Grammy Awards.'


Tim is on his way.. Ole Tim is on his way back. Don't let Tim fool you (laughs). You know Calvin, when I first heard of this (brain tumor), the doctor was telling me 'oh you'll be sitting up on the edge of the bed the day you have the surgery, you'll be walking.. three or four days, you'll be on your way home,' I thought 'what?' I said 'you don't know what you're talking about, I'm gonna be in here a week.' 5 weeks later, I'm frustrated 'cause I'm still in here.

Now, realistically thinking.. I will be on my 'A' game by June, July. Doing the rehab program, that's what I am shooting for. Taking my time and not rushing this, and that's the biggest thing for me.. as a young man, I have to take it slow. I have to take my time. When I started walking back again, I'd take off.. That's how you walk. But I had to realize that I had to slow down and take my time.. I know now what them elderly people were talking about when they say 'hey honey, slow down.. I can't keep up with that.' I know what they say when they say 'look.. it takes me two hours to get ready' because it takes ME two hours to get ready to go somewhere. I know what they mean now.


Wow.. I know it may be hard at first. They may not know how to approach me at first.. so I guess I will just have to approach them. The crazy part about that question is.. I have thought about that question, 'is Tim gonna return to the stage doing comedy again.. what's gonna be Tim's motivation, what is now gonna be his platform if he does go back on stage?'

Calvin, just look at my shows. I've got people from the streets in my shows. Now, bringing me through this, I can't just go out there and forget what brought me through all this. I've got to end my concert with a positive message, even if it's just me saying 'get yourself checked.' I've thought about that, and I've thought about the shows. You just mark this in bold print: I'M HAVING THAT SHOW. YOU MAY AS WELL BRING YOUR SPIT BUCKET 'CAUSE I'M HAVING THAT SHOW, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? IT'S ON, IT'S ON. It's all me, it's all me.. it's what I have experienced, it's what I been through, and the new stuff that I had wrote prior. That's the beauty of this all.. I still remember what happened before. I still remember my punch lines.. even with my rehab, my speech lady made me do one of my routines, as speech therapy.


Oh yeah.. she made me do it just to make sure, and it was funny that I did it 'cause she said 'save the key words for your timing.' I said, 'aw man, that worked.' I'm looking at the latter part of the summer.. you tell folks to get ready to start laughing.. to be honest with you Calvin, even though I might be hurting or I might be going through this, I have not lost my sense of humor. Anybody that has came and seen me, or some people came and seen me two days after.. that is what made me. If you can't laugh, then you got a problem 'cause laughter is good for the soul.. it brightens you. Even in the hospitals and the rehab, all the nurses would come in my room and I would say 'how am I gonna get smart with you when you giving me my medicine to make me healthy?'

It's all what you give people and what you get back. I heard a comment a long time ago by Sidney Portier.. he said 'the character of a man is how he takes care of his kids and himself.' I loved that. All you got, besides your Social Security card is your name. That's all you got. If somebody can't say Tim Hall or Xavier Hall can't think positive, I don't want nothing to do with them. I appreciate the respect. But remember the day... I'm coming back to the stage. I've even figured out 'am I gonna be in a wheelchair or crutches, or is mama gonna carry me on stage (laughs).. I don't know, but I'm gonna be on somebody's stage, even with a doctor near. I've thought about the Renaissance Center.. I've dreamed this stuff. But as you said, that's been one of my number one questions. 'Tim, I know you got a show for me.' I'm like 'can I get out of the hospital first?' (laughs) 'Let me get up out of this bed.. get them tubes off of me first.'

I'm so humbled, that so many people have so much love, that they love me that much as to think of that. It makes me feel good, for someone who literally Calvin, self-rolled himself in the comedy world. Right now there at the Renaissance Center.. 20 people came to hear me the first time.. Linda Rogers was the first one to come to me after my show and say 'Tim, I thought you were just gonna get up there and mumble. But you actually had a SHOW. That was AMAZING!' I said 'for real?' She said, 'I thought you were just gonna get up there and talk, but you ran through it, it went well.' After that, my big break was when the Elks invited me over to do a show for them. That was about 40-50 people, and from there, folks started coming.. got to work with the BET cast, and I just made it, just made it, you know. I started hosting events in Knoxville.


Oh yeah.. I enjoy the traveling with it, bringing New Year's in in Baltimore. For a Kingsport guy to cruise into DC, I said 'I'm a celebrity.' I wasn't trying to toot my horn, but it felt good. I announced with Steve Harvey and all those guys, traveling in the car.. we were one day in one city, then back. Back then, my money wasn't that good. Going to Atlanta.. being invited outside my area is great. All the entertainers out there, and you requested me? Going down to Birmingham.. all the comics I got to see and work with.


Yes sir.. yes sir, it was. I haven't yet fathomed my mind around about it. You see that basket up there, top of the shelf? That's bills. That's my bills. The ones that are opened are the 15-dollar co-pay's where I go here, I go there and I pay them as I get to 'em. I've had one.. two.. three.. up to 5 MRI's and cat scans, and just one MRI cost me a thousand dollars. That's not counting the surgery, the 5-week hospital stay, that's not counting the two-week rehabilitation stay.. that's not counting the outpatient that I'm in.. and the therapy. Not to mention, what it cost to run this (gestures around the house). This place needs electricity, heat, air conditioning, food (even though I can't eat it).. the kids need groceries, I don't need it, I can drink my food.. It hasn't gotten there yet, but it's getting there, almost to the limit and I'm not working, bringing in a paycheck to pay for things. I'm not the kind of people that says 'oh I need help, can you help me?' Insurance is paying for a lot, but after the 20 per cent is taken off each thing that you have to pay. It does add up.

Yes, it worries me. A year ago, when I was running and trying not to have any kind of surgery, it didn't matter. But now that I have grown up after this surgery, I need that bill paid and I have to figure it out some way. I won't look at 'em right now, I might look at 'em tomorrow. I'm lucky to have a job that will let me get this stuff of paying everything off, started. I'm blessed to have a job so I can do my part to pay this all back. But I still got this (gestures the house again).


I've heard bits and pieces of it, on the 24th of March. (EDITOR'S NOTE -- this date has now changed to Sunday, April 1, 2012) I look forward to it, I really do. I look forward to, what's coming. The singing, the appreciation, you know, the blessings. I know it's gonna be soul-stirring, heart-renching. I can't guarantee I won't cry, you know what I'm saying, 'cause I'm a crybaby.. I've learned how to cry, you know. But I'm looking forward to what people have to say, because I love them all.. they're all like my family.

I say this with all honesty, Calvin.. when I was sitting here on my own, figuring everything out, and my family was asleep and I was here to myself.. I thought, 'what would happen if something happened to me? Where would the funeral be, where would this be, where would that be? Calvin, my mind was going.. I'm thinking of my church, Mt. Zion Baptist.. oh, we'll bust that place out in there. Oh, we'll probably have to have it at Central. That's where my mind went..


Yeah, I was preparing myself in my mind. Who would come, who would speak.. And then, when Johnnie Mae (Swagerty) called me back and said that we were having my program at Central, two months ago I would have thought that they would have to roll me into Central.. but two months, I'm gonna be walking into Central.

Wow. That was the deepest thing I took out of that, is I thought that I was not letting God take control of things. He said, no, we're gonna have a celebration.. a celebration of life. I'm very grateful of it.. I'm not going to talk about it as part of my routine. I thought no, I ain't going up there, they'll bury me up there (laughs). But the more I thought about it, the people that I know, the people who really genuinely on Facebook, are all the people who are praying for me.. I appreciate that. I really do.

Calvin, people have been praying for me from here to God-knows-where. I did not know that I have affected that many people, since I had my daughter put that thing on Facebook about my surgery. She called me back and said 'Daddy, you got 120 comments on there.' I said 'what?' She said, 'they're all loving and praying for you tonight.' Just to know that many people really, really care about me, is a humbling, honoring, loveable thing.. I can't thank everybody enough for what they've done.. the ones who have brought here and there, brought my family dinner, or bought me gas when I have to go to Johnson City and back.. the daily things for helping my kids.. Monique at the barber shop... first time I went in there, my hair looked like I had fought somebody.. they gave me a free haircut. Those things in themselves were just... love. You don't understand the humbling that I have experienced. If you don't anything else, you've done enough, and I sure do appreciate it.


First off, if you can't come to it, you're gonna miss something. That's all I'm gonna tell you (laughs).


Yeah, yeah.. I got something for y'all. I know how to perform, myself. I got something for 'ya. Truthfully, from the bottom of my heart, I love you all. Thank you with everything I got. My family thanks you.. I can't say enough of what it feels like to be loved. You know who your true friends are, who's there for you, and they have truly been there for me and my family. I have felt the prayers of everybody. I haven't had anybody that I have hung with on a daily basis, not call me. I thank y'all, and I hope to still be able to be the Tim Hall that you know me as.. silly.. cut-up.. (laughs).. but from the bottom of my heart, I love 'y'all. Thank you so, so much.

Rest In Peace

Organizers plan ‘room full of laughter’ in tribute to late Kingsport comedian

Xavier ‘Tim’ Hall passed away March 19 after a bout with a brain tumor.

The Riverview communitywide cleanup in Tim's honor is actually on March 31st.. in the paper it was mentioned as happening on April 1st. We corrected it for this posting



KINGSPORT — Xavier “Tim” Hall said he didn’t want anybody making a fuss over him and his recent bout with a brain tumor. He said he just wanted a room full of laughter to feel better.

Organizers plan to fulfill a last wish for the Kingsport comedian who passed away March 19 at his home with a celebration of Hall’s life on April 1.

Event staff member Johnnie Mae Swaggerty said the gathering’s location will be at the Bethel AME Church on Mapleoak Street.

The original location had to be changed due to the number of people who wanted to be a part of the occasion, which will also serve as a benefit to help Hall’s family with his medical bills and funeral costs.

In an interview conducted at the Times-News earlier this month, Hall discussed his ongoing therapy at Johnson City Medical Center, where he had undergone surgery earlier in the year when doctors discovered the tumor.

“I decided to go in after I started getting tingling sensations on my left side,” said Hall.

“It’s when you think you’ve reached a bottom when your family and friends come to your rescue. They’ve helped me through this, and I know I wouldn’t have made it through things without God. He is good."

“It has been frustrating not being able to do things like I used to, but when you can look at things in life and be positive and laugh, things will turn out OK. I just look forward to getting up on stage and making other people laugh. That can be the best medicine.”

Hall had been traveling on the comedy club circuits of the Southeast for several years, including working concerts in conjunction with fellow comedians who had appeared on cable network BET’s “ComicView” series.

But he always enjoyed the shows back at home, including a concert he did for a DVD recording at Rascals downtown in December 2009.

“I just see it as a way to pay homage to my hometown, a place where I got my inspiration from good folks who urged me to go and cut up on stage instead of at gatherings with friends,” Hall said days before that show.

Donations to help the family are currently being accepted at Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union at 460 W. Center St.

Swaggerty stated that interested parties should ask to donate to the “Helping One” account in care of Shelia Hall, who is Xavier’s mother.

On March 31st, a communitywide cleanup in Riverview dedicated to Xavier will be held beginning at 10 a.m. at the SplashPad shelter pavilion, followed by a chicken and hot dog dinner at noon that will raise funds for the family.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


DUE TO XAVIER TIMOTHY HALL FUNERAL & MEMORIAL WE WILL POSTPONE OUR H.O.P.E. BAKE SALE. We will let you know our new date. Thanks for understanding.

Stella Robinette - H.O.P.E.
President & Founder

"Tim" Hall's Funeral Announcement

Xavier Timothy Hall will have two services, one in his hometown of Harriman, Tennessee... the other in his adopted hometown of Kingsport.

The Harriman funeral will be Friday March 23, 2012 in Harriman, TN at the St Mary's Baptist Church from 1 P-M to 3 P-M.

The Kingsport funeral will be Saturday March 24, 2012 at the Central Baptist Church, Kingsport from 10 A-M to 12 Noon. The final resting is at the Church Hill Memory Gardens.

Please keep the Hall and Swafford families in your prayers.

The obituary is to follow. The Memorial Service in Tim's honor has been rescheduled to Sunday, April 1, 2012.. It will be held at the Bethel AME Zion Church at 4 PM. It's April Fools Day, and with Tim's ability to make us all laugh... it's the perfect day to celebrate him.

Please see Tim's last public interview below

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tim Hall Floral Arrangement Announcement

From Frederica Mason Maxwell:

For all Dobyns Bennett graduates that would like to contribute to a nice floral spray for Xavier Timothy Hall's funeral service in Kingsport please contact White Floral Co at 423-245-5174. Just tell the person why you're calling and they'll take your contribution over the phone. If you're in the area and can stop by to pay directly that works too. Funeral arrangements to be annouced.

Thanks everyone

Monday, March 19, 2012

Xavier "Tim" Hall Passing

After all of the passings that we have endured the past 2 months in the Riverview Community, it is with sincere regret that we announce yet another one.

Xavier "Tim" Hall, the local funnyman whose antics in reminding us how black folk can be, passed away at home. Tim had suffered from a brain tumor that was successfully removed back in December, but the exact cause of death is not know.

Your Douglass website had done an interview with Tim in the I.C.U. at the Johnson City Medical Center just after his operation, and he was so happy to tell everyone what the Lord had done for him.

We had also just done another interview with Tim in his home, on how his life had changed since his blessing from the Lord to still be with us. It is a profound interview that touched on God, family, friends and his career. Tim was looking forward to coming back to entertain us, and nobody could tell us ABOUT US, better, than Tim Hall.

We are working to transcribe that interview, and will post it here on the website in the next few days. It is Tim's last interview.

There are plans to go ahead with a benefit gospel concert this coming Saturday that was going to help defray some of Tim's medical bills. Our understanding is, the concert will still go on, this time as a memorial tribute concert in his honor. As soon as we know those details, we will let you know.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Youth in Praise Event

The 4th Annual Youth in Praise concert is Sunday, March 11, 2012, at 3:30pm at the Central Baptist Church.

Come out support our Youth! Proceeds benefit the Little Miss Vision Pageant.

Eugene Kincaid Passing

Eugene Kincaid, the eldest of the Kincaid children of Jack and Sarah, and Douglass Class of '65, has passed in Nashville.

Details to follow shortly.


Eugene Kincaid
Wallace Ross, Sr.
Gladys Thomas
Bobby Joe Johnson
Naomi Vinson
Joe Davis
Donald Morrison
Calvin Price, Jr.


Mason Stuart
Clinton Lyons
Anna Ruth Watermann
Willie James Traylor

Our prayers are lifted for the families of our loved ones.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Swift Museum to host grand reopening Sunday

Building once served as segregated African-American school in Rogersville

‘The most important thing is to never forget where we came from and how we got our education.’
— Stella Gudger



ROGERSVILLE — With the paint barely dry from a $40,000 renovation, Rogersville’s Swift Museum located inside the Price Public School Community Center (PPSCC) will host a grand reopening ceremony Sunday afternoon.

David Grace —

At left, Director Stella Gudger, center, talks with Keith Magrum, left, and Dave Baker about the placement of artwork in the Swift Museum in Rogersville on Wednesday.

Swift Museum contains artifacts and photos from the long-defunct Swift College, which was a segregated African-American school in Rogersville from 1883-1955.

After the college closed, Swift became the segregated Swift High School, which closed in 1963 when Rogersville schools were integrated.

Price Public School was the segregated school on Hasson Street constructed in 1923 and closed in 1958, at which time Swift became a first through 12th grade school. The Swift College building was built in 1893 and demolished in 1964.

Price Public School fell into disrepair after it closed. It was placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1988, and a restoration effort began in 1992. The facility reopened as a community center in 2003 with one wing dedicated to the Swift College Museum.
PPSCC Director Stella Gudger, a Swift High School alumna, said the new museum, which was completed last week, has a modern look.

“Everything has changed,” Gudger said. “It’s a completely new museum. It actually looks like a museum now. I think most people will be impressed.”
Previously, the museum featured school artifacts displayed on tables in the open.

Thanks to an interior design grant provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority, the newly revamped exhibits tell Swift’s 80-year history complete with a historical timeline that takes up an entire wall.

“The timeline goes back to the end of the Civil War, because that’s when the story of Swift College really begins — when the Presbyterian churches had a concern as to how the freed black men were going to get an education,” Gudger said. “The timeline will hopefully give everybody the full picture of what was going on at Swift during important moments in history.”

There are about 300 Swift alumni still living, many of whom reside in Rogersville and the Tri-Cities region.

At left, 'Swifties' Reunion, June 26, 2009

Another feature of the revamped museum is an interactive touch-screen monitor, which will eventually feature interviews with surviving alumni describing their experiences at the school. Those interviews haven’t been completed, and for the purpose of Sunday’s open house the monitor will feature a photo slide show.

The newly reopened museum is expected to become a school field trip destination, and Gudger said a fifth-grade tour curriculum has already been created.

New Vision Youth's Visit to Price-Swift Museum on February 18, 2012 for Black History Month

“It’s important for the younger generations to appreciate the struggle that African Americans had just to get an education after the Civil War,” Gudger said. “And then we went through the phase they called ‘separate but equal,’ and of course it was never equal because the black schools only received outdated textbooks and supplies handed down from the white schools. The most important thing is to never forget where we came from and how we got our education, and how it was a struggle, not just in Tennessee but all over the United States, just to get an education.”

Gudger added, “Hopefully our museum will help make this era in our country’s history come alive, instead of just reading it out of a book.”

Although the museum will teach students about the era of racial segregation in America, Gudger said it also shows what a joyful time it was for the students who attended Swift.

“When I think about Swift, I think about what an asset it was to the community,” Gudger added. “Yes, it was separate, but it was appreciated by the white community. A good example was our annual Thanksgiving Day football game. The opposing team would always bring their band, and we’d have a parade downtown. The white community was always such a huge part of the audience of that parade. It was a source of pride for the entire community, and there was a deep respect for Swift.”

Several contributors helped pay for the $40,000 renovation including Humanities Tennessee, USDA Rural Development, Eastman Chemical Co, TVA, Baldor, Spectra Energy, US Bank, the Swift College Alumni Association and private donations.

Stella Gudger, Executive Director, Price Public Community Center and Swift Museum
Norma Bowers, Price-Swift Museum Board Member
Alberta Gardner, Volunteer
Rodney Bradley, Price-Swift Museum Board Member

The Swift Museum open house will be Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sons & Daughters of Douglass Board Meeting, March 3, 2012


Members In Attendance: Virginia Hankins, Ruth Russell, Thelma Watterson, Sheila Leeper, Andra Watterson, Judy Phillips, Ozine Bly, Kathy Evans, Sandra Wilmer, Pamela Sensabaugh; Andra Watterson, Van Dobbins, Doug Releford, Louetta Hall, Lillian Leeper, and Vicki Smith.

Call to Order - Virginia Hankins, President

Prayer - Sandra Wilmer

November Meeting Minutes were read by Pam and a motion was made to accept minutes as read and seconded. Financial report was given by Lillian and was accepted as read.

Old Business:

Alumni Addresses (build a database)

New Business:

*Confirmation has been received regarding the alumni name change

*Suggestions to promote community groups by making a donation

*Fundraising ways to offset budget/operating expenses

*President & the Financial Officers will meet on Friday, 3/9/12 @ 3:00 p.m. concerning budget/expenses and will report back to the alumni at the next scheduled meeting

*We have a list of potential Dobyns-Bennett graduates that may qualify for scholarships monies

*Announcements will be sent out the local churches as well as letters mailed with rules for applying

*By-Laws will be discussed at our next meeting

*Ideas needed for 2013 reunion – place, entertainment, souvenir booklets, alumni members participation, etc.

*Doug will assist with the Income Tax Filing

No further business to discuss. Doug made a motion to adjourn the meeting and all were in favor. Motion carried and the next meeting to be held on Saturday, April 28, 2012 @ 1:00 p.m. Meeting Adjourned.

Minutes Recorded By: Pamela Sensabaugh, Correspondence Secretary
Minutes Submitted By: Vicki Smith, Secretary