Suzanne Matheny Honored on Wall of Fame

Suzanne MathenySuzanne Matheny is one of the four Central High School (Knoxville) graduates who will be inducted into the school’s Wall of Fame on Nov. 8, 2018.

In 2015, Suzanne shared with the KGH Alumni Facebook page stories and news clippings about her family members that were KGH employees.  Those stories are below the announcement regarding Suzanne’s accolades, written eloquently by Fountain City Historian, Dr. Jim Tumblin.

She was born in Fountain City, one of two children of Betty Chambers Matheny and John H. Matheny. Suzanne grew up on Maple Drive and Midlake Drive and graduated from Fountain City Grammar School. She proceeded to graduate from Central in 1961 where she was co-photo editor of the school’s annual, the Centralite, and a member of Charles Sanders’ 100-voice Girl’s Chorus. She was also in the Junior Classical League, the Junior and Senior Honor Societies, the French Club, the Beta Club and was a member of the All-State Chorus during her junior year.

She entered Carson-Newman College to pursue her interest in teaching and graduated in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in French/English/secondary education. She entered Ohio University and earned a master’s degree in guidance/counseling in 1968. Later she would pursue studies in her avocation, earning a master’s in church music (1981) from Southwestern Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. She studied additionally at UT and Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

She began her career as a French teacher in Atlanta from 1965-67. After pursuing her master’s degree at Ohio University, she was a counselor for the Southeastern Ohio Upward Bound (1968-1971) and then spent 30 years in higher education, 13 at Carson-Newman University and 17 at Belmont University in Nashville. Her positions at Carson-Newman were assistant dean of students and director of alumni relations. At Belmont she held these positions: Baptist Student Union director (1981-85), associate dean of students (1985-1991), assistant vice president for administration/dean of students (1991-98). During her final years at Belmont, she was also campus liaison for the Tennessee Arts Academy, an annual summer academy for teachers of the arts which meets on the Belmont campus.

Suzanne’s pursuit of excellence has been recognized at many levels of her career including: Educator of the Year (Baptist Association of Student Affairs), Alumni Human Service Award (Carson-Newman), Founders Day Medal (Carson-Newman), President of the Nashville Symphony Chorus, Presenter at the Baptist Woman’s Retreat in Warsaw, Poland (2014), and Fountain City Woman of the Year (2017).

She has also been the epitome of a volunteer worker in her community wherever she lives. For 25 years she sang with the Nashville Symphony and the Knoxville Choral Society and is active in the choir of Church Street Methodist Church and its committees. She chairs the Historic Central High School (Gresham Middle School) Campus Restoration Committee.

To date, in addition to invaluable in-kind contributions, more than 450 CHS/GMS alumni and friends have contributed more than $39,000 in cash enabling the committee’s “A STEP IN TIME” campaign to:

  • Erect an official state of Tennessee marker commemorating the history of this beloved campus;
  • Install 430-plus inscribed bricks to honor or memorialize CHS/GRESHAM faculty, students, alumni and friends, and honoring classes of ’44, ’47,’ 50, ’52, ’55, ’56, ’58, ’59, ’61, ’62;
  • Install a brick patio with a stone seating wall and attractive bricked areas;
  • Reforest the campus with more than 15 new legacy and ornamental trees;
  • Enhance building aesthetics with attractive fencing near entrance;
  • Repaint the announcement sign; and,
  • Replace the deteriorated and hazardous asphalt central walkway with an environmentally sound, aesthetically pleasing and safe walkway for today’s students.

Suzanne is also an active member of the Inskip Lions Club, her Neighborhood Watch Committee, a volunteer with the Tennessee Arts Academy (identifying East Tennessee presenters), a member of the Fountain City Grammar School alumnae book club, past grant reviewer for the Tennessee Arts Commission and past chair of her Carson-Newman Class Reunion.

The Central High School Foundation and the Alumni Association are pleased to declare Suzanne Matheny an honoree on the CHS Wall of Fame.

Suzanne’s message to our Facebook page in March, 2015:

Hello. I’ve posted two News Sentinel clippings.

My relatives who were on staff at KGH: Ella Newport (her dates posted); Maye Chambers (later Austin), my aunt; and Betty Chambers Matheny, my mother. (The Cecil Holloway Matheny mentioned in the article is a different line from my Matheny line.)

Both my aunt Maye (1907-1993) and my mother (Betty, 1910-2000) were medical librarians. I don’t know exactly when they began work, but it would be in the 1940’s; both were still there when KGH closed in ’56. After that, Maye took another position with the City; Mother worked at UT Hospital in medical records for a few years and then returned to a position as City Payroll Clerk until her retirement. She absolutely loved her career in medical records.

One of my favorite memories is accompanying her occasionally on Saturdays while she worked. KGH was, of course, was segregated. Curtains in the nursery for the white babies were closed except at certain hours; the “colored” babies were behind glass and could be viewed at any time. So, the treat of the day for me would be, as we were leaving the hospital, to make a stop at the “colored” nursery.

Another memory I have is when in the early 50’s, I had a tonsillectomy. I was in the OR longer than usual (some difficulty in getting my bleeding to stop). In fact I remember waking up there, looking up and seeing the doctor — and! my Aunt Maye who had become worried and walked right in to see what was happening. Can’t imagine she could do that today!

With three relatives having employment there, KGH was woven into our lives. If I find other items/photos of interest or recall other stories, I’ll send them to you. If you need to receive the photos through another source, just let me know. Thanks, again, for your interest.

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