The Polk County Alumni Association recently held its induction banquet for Hall of Fame recipients.
Inductees into the Hall of Fame were Henrietta Johnson Carmichael, Frank Lowery, John Oliver Rogers and Virginia “Ginny” Moore Carney, as well as posthumous inductees Buford Goodner and Ben Harris McClary.
Henrietta Johnson Carmichael
Carmichael graduated as valedictorian from Polk County High School in 1954. She is the daughter of Mrs. Taylor Dill.
She worked her way through college, attending Carson-Newman for two years and receiving her bachelor of science degree from the University of Tennessee in 1961. She obtained her master of divinity degree in 1966 from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and went to Laurinburg, S.C., to be the director of education at First Baptist Church. In 1968, she married John Carmichael and had four sons, Jack, Eddie, David and Tim. She also has a granddaughter, Katie.
She was a full-time mother while the children were small, but then taught middle school; was a director of a psycho-social rehabilitation program for the chronically mentally ill; and worked as a mental health case manager and hospice chaplain.
She is an ordained Presbyterian minister and has pastored four churches.
Carmichael, her husband and sons managed a 3,500-acre farm for years until just recently, when the management was taken over by their sons.
A cancer survivor, she has Parkinson’s disease. Her husband has rheumatoid arthritis.
She is a tutor with the Literacy Council; a hospice volunteer; and does substitute preaching for sick or vacationing ministers. She has spent several years researching her own family history and helps elderly people preserve their life story for their children and grandchildren.
Ben Harris McClary
McClary was born and grew up in Polk County, graduating from Polk County High School in 1949. He received his bachelor of arts and master of arts from the University of Tennessee and his doctorate from the University of Sussex in England.
After two years of service in the field artillery, Dr. McClary began his teaching career at Bradley Central High School in Cleveland. In 1961 he moved to teaching literature at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens. In 1967 he went to Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga., as chairman of the English department.
In 1971 McClary moved to Middle Georgia College in Cochran, Ga., as chairman of the Humanities Division. At the end of 20 years of distinguished service, he officially retired from Middle Georgia College in August of 1991.
His honors and awards through the years were varied, prestigious and numerous, totaling more than 100. These honors and awards came not only from the U.S., but from other countries around the world. Some of his more valued honors were Emeritus status by the Georgia Board of Regents in July of 1991; NEH Travel-to-Collections Grant from England in 1985; and Faculty Award from Middle Georgia College Alumni Association in June 1991.
His first literary love was writing and describing life growing up in Polk County. His second literary love was frontier humor of the Old South. He received recognition and awards for both.
After retiring from Middle Georgia College, McClary relocated to Chattanooga. He spent his spare time re-organizing his voluminous research files, and writing articles for the Oxford University Press’ American National Biography and the Polk County News. When he was not writing, he was enjoying his three grandchildren.
His inclusion in the Polk County High School Hall of Fame was made posthumously, with his grandson Christopher accepting for him.
Buford Goodner was a member of one of the earliest graduating classes at PCHS. A member of the class of 1916, he was also the youngest graduate of the College of Dentistry of Emory University in Atlanta, in 1919. He finished his postgraduate studies in orthodontia at the Dewey School of Orthodontia in New York City. He was one of the first eight orthodontists in the Eastern United States.
As he was in the process of opening his office in Knoxville his mother, who lived with him, suffered a major heart attack. Told she had only a few months to live, her wish was to return to Ocoee.
She actually lived five more years and in this time Goodner established his dental practice in Ocoee. He developed the first dental health program in Polk County.
The first year he not only worked free, but paid all expenses as he examined the teeth of every school child in Polk County and made repairs when needed for indigent students. One year he provided a toothbrush for every student in Polk County.
He was also deeply concerned for and helpful to World War II military personnel.
Goodner was inducted posthumously.
For more than 50 years, Lowery served Polk County as an educator, coach, community activist and general role model.
As an educator, he taught in several school systems, but the majority of his teaching was in the Polk County Schools system.
He not only loved kids but he loved teaching them. Probably one of the things he is most known for in education is the number of students who wanted to be a teacher — just like him.
His method of teaching tended to bring education and history in general to life. He has received numerous teacher of the year awards. He wanted every class period to be one that encouraged learning.
Frank Lowery is known as one of the best fundamentals coaches in the area. His patience with players is unmatched.
At PCHS he coached, at one time or another, baseball, softball, football, and of course basketball. He has won coach of the year honors in athletics and his reputation in the field of sports is known throughout the tri-state area.
He played on probably the most successful teams ever at Polk County High School as he helped lead the basketball team to more than 50 victories in two years under Coach Jim Voight. He also went to the final four in baseball as an all-star shortstop. He went on to become a basketball starter for Alabama Christian and Troy during his college days.
He started the first girls softball team at PCHS and coached for several years without pay in order to get the sport off the ground and running. He also started the first girls softball team at Cleveland State Community College and volunteered his coaching duties for several years.
He started a study hall for his sports teams in order to help them excel in the classroom. He was instrumental in securing scholarships for some of his players.
Lowery was much more than an educator and coach. He has always been devoted to his family and faith as these were his top priority.
He is an encourager to those in need and who are grieving or are in need of healing. He visits those in nursing homes and those that are home-bound to offer encouragement and laughter to their lives.
He attends Benton Church of Christ and is a lay speaker for his church. He conducts Bible studies at his home and in the area.
John Oliver Rogers
Rogers, a 1954 Polk County High School graduate, began his career with Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Company in Chattanooga.
After several advancements, he was promoted to plant maintenance supervisor for nine states where Southern Bell operated. He retired from BellSouth in 1987 with 33 years of service.
As mayor of Powder Springs, Ga., he established a personnel advisory board; developed a multiacre bicycle park for teenagers; secured a federal grant to improve a minority neighborhood; established a museum for preserving the history of the community; designed a local business park; and established a “COPS for Youth” program.
In 1999 following his retirement, he was recognized by his community. A new bridge stands in his honor and bears his name in remembrance of how freely he gave of himself to help others.
He directly credits several teachers from Polk County High School with influencing him in education, love of community, and realizing the man he would become.
Some of those who had a specific impact on his life were Roy Crabtree, with his knowledge of Robert’s Rules of Order; Crabtree also taught Oliver how to tie a necktie; Mrs. Sims gave him a love of choral music; Mrs. Bates taught him business procedures and math; and Mrs. Daugherty and her husband made him his first baseball bat.
He gives credit to Zion Baptist Church for his love for missions.
Rogers gives credit to God for his family. He and his wife, Reita, will be celebrating 55 years of marriage in September. They have three children, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Carney has led a truly amazing life since her graduation from Polk County High School in the Class of 1959. While at PCHS she was known as a shy and quiet student, preferring to pursue academics rather than the clubs and athletics. Her accomplishments since she graduated have been outstanding.
After being encouraged by a special teacher, Ruth Swayne, she attended Tennessee Temple, where she received her bachelor of science degree. After college she married and she and her husband served as Southern Baptist missionaries in the mainland states as well as many other parts of the world, including the Bahamas, Alaska and others.
In the course of this service, she often took children into her home in foster care who were abandoned by their family.
Over the years she took in a total of 16 foster children, many of whom had physical challenges as well as being abandoned. Through her guidance and love, these children were given life’s opportunities that they would not have had, and many of them have gone on to lead very successful lives themselves.
In addition to the foster children, Ginny and her husband had four children of their own. In 1974, one of the foster children was murdered by her husband and her four children were abandoned. Carney adopted the children.
She earned her doctorate degree from the University of Kentucky. She saw her dream of teaching at a tribal college come true and published a well-received book on “Voices of Cherokee Women.” She not only taught but was president of Leech Lake Tribal College in Minnesota, and just recently retired from the position.
She is still called back to help when a problem arises, and still lives and offers advice and help on a Cherokee Reservation.