D-B Alumni Hall of Fame: Folks in dentistry, athletics, concert lighting and law among inductees

Rick Wagner • Updated Oct 30, 2017 at 12:01 PM

KINGSPORT — Thursday’s Dobyns-Bennett High School Alumni Hall of Fame 2017 induction included three in the dental field, a man whose company is world renown for rock and country concert lighting, a teacher/coach, military heroes and star athletes.

The ninth annual ceremony drew about 200 to the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center for the induction of eight people, including five still living. Detailed biographies are available online through a link at http://dbhs.k12k.com/, as are inductees going back to the start of the hall in 2009.


A photo gallery of the event is online at timesnews.net.

Eight inductees ties for the most in a single year. Here’s a thumbnail rundown of the eight:

Jerry Beck, class of 1961 

Recently retired Sullivan County Criminal Court Judge Jerry Beck is a former assistant district attorney, a man who presenter Wayne Culbertson, a longtime Kingpsort attorney, said was fair, made reasoned decisions and had an excellent temperament. Culbertson said judges are the most important elected officials in the United States since they can take your children, take your wealth and assets and take your freedom.

Beck said, “I did it to the best of my ability,” as he said did Judge George Garrett who was before him and Judge Bill Rogers who replaced him. Former Gov. Ned McWherter appointed Beck to the bench in 1993. Culbertson said that Beck presided over likely the longest trial in the region’s history, the State of Tennessee v. Combs in 1993 that had 32 trial days not counting motion days and other court days. 

Frank J. Buckles Jr, class of 1944

Dentist Richard Bateman presented the late Dr. Frank J. Buckles Jr., a dentist, for induction. As a football player at D-B, he was dubbed the “Sophomore Sensation” by his coach, and he ran track and hurdles, was in the National Honor Society and president of his class. He married his wife, Katherine, in 1953, after serving in the Navy during World War II and was active in local civic and church affairs.

Bateman said Buckles was instrumental in getting fluoride in the Kingsport water supply and was his mentor. Dr. Buckles later became a Piney Flats farmer and was president of the Kingpsort Boys and Girls Club. Bateman’s father, also a dentist, and Dr. Buckles were contemporaries and friends. “Frank took me under his wing,” Bateman said. He said “Buckisms” included, “Do the right dentistry on the right patient and the right time” and “Stay in your office even if you don’t have any patients because if you go out and about, everybody knows you don’t have any patients.

James W. Dobyns, class of 1954

Bruce Wilder presented the late retired Lt. Col. James W. Dobyns, grandson of Kingsport founding father and former Mayor James Wiley Dobyns, from whom the high school is co-named. Lt. Col. Dobyns was in the Army Special Forces, otherwise known as the Green Berets. “He was a spirit-filled man, a man of duty, honor and country,” Wilder said, who summed up Dobyns’ take on life as follows: “If you serve others, it is better than serving yourself.”

Wilder recounted the story told in the Oct. 25 Vince Staten column in the Kingsport Times-News about how Dobyns, serving in Vietnam, rescued a fellow soldier from the battlefield with bullets whizzing past and then a little while later gave him a life-saving person-to-person blood transfusion that saved the solider’s life on the flight to medical treatment. He got the Silver Star for rescuing the solider but turned down the Purple Heart for the blood transfusion, saying that was reserved for those injured in battle. 

Dobyns’s wife, Lois, accepted the induction award for her late husband. She is also an inductee, making them the first husband-wife team to be in the hall.

Ruth Ketron, class of 1948

Presenter Carla Snodgrass said her mother, Ruth Ketron, as part of Healthy Kingsport has walked 1,478 miles, 81st citywide, at age 87. Ketron also walks and competes in various walks up to one mile to 10Ks. In high school, Ketron worked in a dentist’s office, and after her two daughters were older went to East Tennessee State University to be in the first registered dental hygienist class in 1971, also getting a bachelor’s in health education. After a master’s degree, she became an assistant professor in dental hygiene at ETSU and later was assistant director of the Quillen College of Medicine’s Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology.

Ketron later earned her Ed.D in education and health from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a certificate in biblical studies from Graham Bible College and got a gerontology graduate certificate from ETSU. She’s a lay speaker for the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church and a member of other halls of fame. 

“I love teeth,” Ketron told the crowd. “I want to know if you brushed your teeth today. I hope you floss tonight before you go to bed.” 

Charlie Leonard, class of 1958

Presenter Vince Staten, a Kingsport Times-News columnist, said sports legend Charlie Leonard was mentioned more times in the 1950s in the Times-News than the two mayors that decade, with 430 mentions, second only to President Dwight Eisenhower. Leonard was on the 1957 Indian basketball team that lost in the state finals, scored 50 points against Rogersville in 1958, a school record for 26 years, and scored 42 in a game against Roanoke Jefferson. He had 297 assists in 1958.

Leonard played baseball and basketball in high school. Instead of attending Wake Forest University, where he was offered a basketball scholarship, he opted to play baseball and received a $25,000 bonus after signing with the Pirates organization. He played nine years in the minor leagues. He worked for Eastman Chemical Co. until retiring in 1996 and another 12 years for a book company.

Fellow inducte Bill McHorris was “the best teammate I ever had,” Leonard said. “I thank all of you. That’s all I have.”

Cecil Maddux, class of 1949

Presenter Litzie Bishop said her late father, Cecil Maddux, excelled in football, basketball and track. He was on the 1945 D-B basketball team that won the state championship and played on the 1947 football team that was not scored upon and  and won the state championship. He was on another state championship team in 1948.

“Everybody who knew him called him Coach,” Bishop said. “He inspired many of them (student athletes) over the years to have a love of the game and pride in what they did.”

He was recruited by former D-B standout Bobby Dodd to be coached by Dodd at Georgia Tech. After college, he joined the Wise County school system and taught math and science for 35 years, retiring in 1989. He also was head football coach at Powell Valley High School in Big Stone Gap from 1967 to 1976 and also coached golf there. His golf team won championships, and he was voted into the Virginia High School Hall of Fame in 2009.

William H. McHorris, class of 1957

Presenter Hal McHorris said his big brother, William H. McHorris, was a football player who went from D-B to Southwestern Louisiana Unviersity, now University of Louisiana, in Lafayete.

Dubbed the Tennessee Rifleman by a newspaper during college, the younger brother said McHorris specialized in the jump shot and averaged 19 points a game for his last three years during a time when there was no three-point shot.

However, he chose dental school instead of a professional basketball career, graduating from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry. He specializes in occlusal dentistry, restorative dentistry and TMJ disorders and has published articles on those subjects, having lectured and spoken across the world. 

Michael T. Strickland, class of 1973

Presenter Brent Barrett said he has known Strickland since elementary school, called Strickland a driven leader with success as the founder of Bandit Lites, the world’s second-largest entertainment lighting company and more than 25 times named Lighting Company of the Year. “Every team has to have a quarterback, and I’m lucky enough to be a quarterback,” Strickland said, saying that the company’s and his success are owed to a core group of 20 who worked for him in Kingsport and/or Knoxville. He said his sister, Susan, took him to a rock concert at the new D-B gym building in 1967.

“If that had never happened, I would have been a lawyer,” Strickland said, adding that he and his friends would do lights for visiting 1960s act for $25 a night, eventually growing to the point that he was Kenny Rogers’ production manager while going to law school at the University of Tennessee. More than 300 clients have ranged from the Monkees to Amy Grant, Ringo Starr to The Moody Blues and Frank Sinatra, and its offices are located domestically and overseas.

“I was immediately hooked, but I didn’t have any talent,” he said, “Rock and roll was for me.” His first lighting gig? A French talent show at Robinson Junior High School in 1968 that included a performance by Mike Holt, currently an accountant in Kingsport, and Graham Clark, current football coach at D-B. 

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