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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Sherry Pierce Kinchloe remembrance


Rev. Sherry Pierce Kinchloe was born to Jerome and Elizabeth Piece in Kingsport, TN, on December 16, 1953. After graduating from Lees-McRae College and attending ETSU, she returned to Kingsport and worked as a Case Manager for Indian Path Hospital and Superior Home Health. She married and gave birth to the joy of her life, Cameron.

Rev. Kinchloe joined Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church in 1990 and never believed in being just a "pew" member. She actively served in the Missionary Society, Stewardess Board, The Christian Education Department, and worked with the youth in their activities. In 1994, she received the call from God to teach and preach His Word. She was ordained as a Deacon in 2003 and an Elder in 2004 in the A.M.E. Zion Church. She assisted Rev. Kingsley Blay and several other pastors at Bethel before receiving her first appointment. She was assigned to Limestone A.M.E. Zion church for two years before transferring to her post in Jonesborough, TN.

In 2002, during her first year at Jonesborough, she had to undergo an emergency surgical procedure. Doug and Vivian Releford were faithful and loyal with their assistance and friendship during her recovery. She had a long and slow recovery, but she said, "Where I was weak, God was strong. I never lost my faith in God. He said I'll never leave nor forsake you, and He is still by my side." Despite challenges with mobility, she continued to rejoice and give God the glory.

Sherry's parents, Jerome and Elizabeth Pierce, preceded her in death.

She leaves to cherish fond memories her son, Cameron (Yaree) Grimes of Atlanta, GA; sisters, Star Morris of Lithonia, GA, and Aleea P. Tarplin of Stockbridge, GA; brother, Jerome (Blossom) Pierce of Kingsport, TN; the new joys of her life, her precious grandchildren, Pierce Cameron and Parker Grimes; niece, Beth (Jayce) Fulwider; nephews, Tyrome Avery, Bernard (Sharonda) Tarplin, and Byron Pierce Tarplin; great-nieces and nephews, Kanaan and Kassidy Fulwider and Myles, Maliyah, and Malachi Tarplin; paternal uncle, Jack (Betsy) Pierce; goddaughter, LaVonda Harris; and a host of relatives and friends.

A special thank you to cousins Rev. Dr. Charlotte and Rev. Joseph Comage for visiting and ministering to Sherry during her illness. 

The family extends a thank you to all who knew and loved Sherry. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Kingsport's Lola Campbell receives proclamation from Sullivan County Commissioners

 This story courtesy WJHL-TV

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Leola “Lola” Campbell was recognized by Sullivan County Commissioners on Thursday for her outstanding leadership and exemplary community service.

Campbell was the first African American to integrate the Holston Valley Nurse Corps in the 1950s.

She encourages younger generations to keep pursuing their dreams.

“We know that all things are under God’s control,” Campbell said. “We have to ask him for the strength, the patience, the wisdom, whatever we need to cross this mountain that we’re facing. You don’t give up, never.”

“If you know Ms. Campbell and her family, you know how deserving she is of this honor. I’ve had the privilege of knowing them for many years,” Commissioner John Gardner said. “Her contribution, it’s beyond words.”

The Sullivan County Commission proclaimed Feb. 15, 2024 as Lola Campbell Day.

“The proclamation is just the least we could do to honor such a great lady and her family. It was just great to have her and the family up here this evening so we can pay her respect,” Gardner said.

Lola Campbell persisted to integrate Holston Valley Nurse training corps

KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — For Leola “Lola” Campbell, becoming a nurse was a lifelong dream and calling.

“Ever since I was old enough to know what a nurse was, that was what I wanted to be,” Campbell told News Channel 11. “That’s about the only way I can explain it. I just wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to care for people.”

But as a Black woman in the 1950s, it was a dream that wouldn’t come easily.

“When I finished 11th grade, I started looking into places to go, but everything everywhere was segregated,” said Campbell.

Like public schools across the region, Kingsport’s nurse training school at Holston Valley Community Hospital was segregated at the time. Still, it had a great reputation, and Campbell set her sights on admission.

She called and visited the office relentlessly but never received an application. Campbell said administrators told her they would run a segregated class if she could find at least ten other black students to enroll.

“That wasn’t possible,” said Campbell. “The Black population here is so small and most of the women worked.”

Making the impossible possible

Regardless, Campbell was determined to meet her goal.

“I just kept going, I kept calling,” Campbell said. “I knew that I wanted to be a nurse, and I knew that Holston Valley had the best training program in the Tri-Cities.”

Kingsport City Schools announced its plan to begin integrating, grade by grade in 1960.

“If schools integrated, why wouldn’t the nursing program be integrated?” Campbell said.

Finally, the administrators relented. The school called her on a Friday to tell her the spring session would start Monday, but that she wouldn’t be able to gather the paperwork needed in time and could start in the fall.

Campbell never received an application.

“I knew what all we had to have, so I got busy,” Campbell said. “With the help of God, my aptitude tests and all the things I had to have, I was done by Friday afternoon.”

“So I walked in, surprisingly, Monday morning.”

Pushing past prejudice

Clearing the hurdles to admission was only the beginning for Campbell, who integrated the nurse training program at Holston Valley Medical Center along with one other Black student.

Campbell trained hard for 13 months, all the while facing patients who sometimes declined to receive care from a woman of color.

“You didn’t know from one day to another in the hospital what somebody was going to ask you or what somebody was going to say,” Campbell said. “You never know what questions [you’ll] face so you had to learn to smile and say, ‘I’m so-and-so and this and I’m here and I’m going to take care of you today if you want me to.'”

Campbell credits many of her early supervisors for looking out for her through training and into the early years of her nursing career.

For her first hospital placement, Campbell was assigned the most notoriously difficult floor.

“Their nurse was a retired Army lieutenant, and she ran a tight ship,” Campbell said.

But that nurse ended up being one of Campbell’s “angels,” and offered her her first hospital job.

Campbell graduated in March 1961, becoming the first Black nurse trained at Holston Valley Medical Center, where she spent the entirety of her 27-year career.

Opening doors

The determination that compelled Campbell to fight segregation kept her working. She earned a scholarship to become a Registered Nurse and kept training on the latest equipment as a surgical nurse for nearly three decades.

Campbell graduated in March 1961, becoming the first Black nurse trained at Holston Valley Medical Center, where she spent the entirety of her 27-year career.

The determination that compelled Campbell to fight segregation kept her working. She earned a scholarship to become a Registered Nurse and kept training on the latest equipment as a surgical nurse for nearly three decades.

Leola “Lola” Campbell, seated second from left, celebrating her 90th birthday in October.

Sixty years later, Campbell said there was a moment from the final weeks of her 13-month training period that stood out to her. Her cohort was back in the classroom studying for state boards, with a view of the nursing office.

Through the window, Campbell saw a young Black woman she knew walk into the office.

Rev. Sherry Pierce Kinchloe announcement


Rev. Sherry Pierce Kinchloe departed this life Saturday February 17, 2024 at Ballad Holston Valley Hospital and Medical Center. 

Arrangements are incomplete.

Professional service and care of Rev. Sherry G. Pierce Grimes Kinchloe and family are entrusted to Clark Funeral Chapel & Cremation Service Inc. (423) 245-4971

Saturday, February 17, 2024

"The History of African-Americans in Kingsport" - Presentation & Discussion


On Friday, February 23, 2024, all Douglass alumni are invited to hear "The History of African-Americans in Kingsport," the result of months of research, interviews with residents (many of them no longer with us), old photos and videos.

To know where we are going as people, alumni and a community, we have to know where we have been and how our lives were shaped by our neighborhood back when.  Back then, it took a village to raise a child and often it took a switch to be raised.

Also in attendance will be classes from Dobyns-Bennett High School as they learn about the importance of Black History Month in all of our lives.

There will also be a question-and-answer session after the history presentation, during which as Douglass alumni and Riverview residents, you'll be able to relate stories of growing up and living in Kingsport's Black community.

Douglass alumnus, and DB graduate/athlete Don Hickman will also speak and a small lunch will be provided at around 11:30.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Douglass Alumni Meeting Canceled


Apparently, the weather will not be our friend on Saturday, Feb. 10th.  

As a result, the Douglass Alumni Board will NOT hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on that date.

The next meeting will be on March 9th... feels good to say that.  Spring is just around the corner.

Any news updates and current events, as always, will be here on your Douglass website.  Meanwhile, we hope you partake of the events during Happy Black History Month.

See you in the spring!

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board Meeting announcement


The Sons and Daughters of Douglass Alumni Board will have its regularly scheduled meeting on Saturday, February 10, 2024.

The meeting will begin at 11 AM, in the Eastman Board Room, 2nd Floor of the V.O. Dobbins Sr. Tower, 301 Louis Street, Kingsport.

Monday, February 5, 2024

2024 Black History Month Events in Kingsport


Here's a list of events going on in Kingsport and the surrounding area for Black History Month, February 2024: