Knoxville East High School Alumni Association

Knoxville East High School Alumni Association

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P.O. Box 71171

Knoxville, TN 37938

On August 5, 10 graduates of East were inducted into the Knoxville East High School Alumni Association Hall of Fame. They are:


Carolyn Ellis Cottrell – Class of 1953

After a high school career that included choir, National Honor Society, Student Librarian, Masquers, Blue and Gray Editor, Senior Class Secretary, and winner of the DAR Award, Carolyn graduated from the University of Tennessee before going to work in the collection division of the Internal Revenue Service.

In 1967 she became a tax examiner with emphasis on the newly developed Taxpayer Service Department, assisting the public with their tax returns. Continuing with “in house” education opportunities, Carolyn became the second female in Tennessee to become a field revenue officer and had advanced to senior revenue officer by the time of her retirement in 1990.

While serving in the collection division, she taught classes in Atlanta, Knoxville and Greensboro to newly hired revenue officers. When the IRS began the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA), she was instrumental in setting up the program for the Knoxville area. During her career with the IRS she received several awards for performance excellence.

Carolyn’s musical ability has been put to good use at local hospitals, nursing homes and senior groups, where she volunteers her services. She has served as church pianist at several Knoxville churches and has organized reunions of the EHS class of 1953. Her class recently donated $900 to KEHSAA in her honor.

Carolyn and husband Clarence (Bud) have been married for 59 years and have two married children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.


Frank M. (Bob) Bostick – Class of 1954

After a high school stint that included the Key Club and the science and Latin clubs, Bob was voted Most Likely to Succeed by his classmates before going on to the University of Tennessee.

He received a bachelor of science degree in education, then went on to Emory University’s Candler School of Theology where he received a master of divinity degree in 1961. Her then served churches in Sevierville, Fairhaven, Johnson City, Knoxville, and Athens. He was president of the Holston United Methodist Home for Children in Greeneville, district superintendent of the Wytheville and Maryville districts, and director of youth work of the United Methodist Church Conference in Johnson City. He was also trustee for Emory and Henry College in Virginia.

He led 10 mission trips to Haiti and participated in a mission trip to the Dominican Republic and accompanied another KEHSAA Hall of Famer, Darris Doyle, on other mission trips.

He is a member of the Kiwanis Club in Greeneville and Athens, and he and wife Phyllis Myers Bostick have been married for 56 years.


Al Billips – Class of 1955

Three years of band at East may have been the inspiration for Al’s contribution to UT’s Pride of the Southland band, where he played trumpet. A member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, Al graduated from the pre-med program with a bachelor of science degree in psychology and a minor in zoology.

He then enrolled in the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, graduating with a master of divinity in 1962. After he and Bennie Kay Murphy were married, Al enrolled in a graduate program in guidance counseling at the University of Georgia. He then pastored Bogart Methodist Church in McMinn County, Tennessee. After completing the master in education program, he continued in the doctoral program in guidance and counseling. During this time he and his wife welcomed two daughters, Patricia Kay and Linda Gayle, into their lives. He worked in the counseling center at the University of Georgia.

Al accepted the position of dean of student affairs at Glenville State College in West Virginia, a position he held for 34 years. He also taught classes in psychology and early childhood and served as secretary of the Gilmer County Medical Center and was active in the Glenville Lions Club and the Gilmer County Jaycees. He also served with the Student Personnel Administrators of West Virginia Colleges and Universities.

In April 1970, his son Alan was born; as Alan became older, Al became involved in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, working with those organizations for more than 30 years. He has served as Order of the Arrow section advisor and holds scouting’s Silver Beaver Award.

He is active in Glenville’s Trinity United Methodist Church, and, on occasion, preaches.


Carey F. McWilliams – Class of 1955

After a high school career featuring dramatics and sports (football, wrestling, track, and cheer-leading), Carey continued his education at the University of Omaha and then the U.S. Air Force. After pilot training, he flew the B-727, the BDC-10, the B-747, and the T38-5. His total flight hours were 2,800.

He achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel, Vietnam Command, and is an Air Force Academy Liaison Officer.

Carey and his wife live in Boerne, Texas, where he is a member of the New Braunfels Rotary Club and has served on the school board for six years. He is a lifetime member of the Military Officers Association of America.


Sue Meador Campbell – Class of 1956

After graduating from East, Sue attended the University of Tennessee before entering the School of Radiology at Baptist Hospital in Knoxville. During the summer of 1957, she met Jack Campbell, a teacher at Tyson Junior High School; they were married in 1959.

After passing the Radiographic Technical Registry in X-Ray in 1962, Sue began working at Fort Sanders Hospital. Later, she taught at the hospital’s X-Ray school.

After Sue and Jack became parents of their first son, she stayed home as a full-time mother, active in PTA and church. Two other sons quickly followed. Jack worked each summer as a law-enforcement ranger for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the family would live in the park, sometimes without electricity or telephone service. They later spent 16 summers in a park service cabin at the Balsam Mountain campground, again without electricity or telephone service. Their sons grew up with access to hiking trails and creeks, learning the lore of the woods.

In the late 1970s, Sue obtained a real estate license and opened here own office around 1980, maintaining the company until the late 1990s.

Sue became active in helping persons involved in adoption, joining ROOTS (Rights of Origin – Tennesseans in Search). They joined with other groups throughout the state to lobby legislators to make adoption records more accessible. They were successful and a law making access legal was passed and signed.

Sue is a member of Independent Search Consultants (ISC), a national group that works with adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents in locating birth relatives. She is licensed as a private investigator and has worked many adoption, insurance and lost-love investigations.


Zafer Roback – Class of 1959

After graduating from East, where he played football, Zafer joined the United States Army, stationed at Fort Halibert in Baltimore, training in Army intelligence. Later, he was sent to Japan, Okinawa, and South Korea, where he discovered karate and judo.

After his Army service, he enrolled at Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Kentucky, where he began teaching karate and judo, taking his students to the Olympics twice. Known as the Father of Judo at the school, Zafer is in the Cumberland College Hall of Fame.

Following his graduation from Cumberland in 1965, Zafer came to the University of Tennessee, with Johnny Majors as his sponsor. There, he taught and coached judo and karate for 11 years. His teams were undefeated.

He began working in real estate, and has now been active in that field for 35 years. He is a 32nd degree Mason and a Shriner and has worked with the Special Olympics. He has been a member of the First Baptist Church of Concord for 48 years.

His travels with judo have taken him around the world, leading to meetings with King Hussein of Jordan, Princess Diana of England, and Prince Mohammad Al Sabah of Kuwait. He coached basketball with Congressman Jimmy Duncan at First Baptist Church of Concord. He has been married to Ann Faulkner Roback for 51 years and says she was his college Richard sweetheart and “still is.”


Richard Hillard – Class of 1963

Richard Hillard, a native of Burlington, attended Fair Garden Elementary and Park Junior High before attending East. He played trumpet in school bands at all three schools and served on the safety patrol at Fair Garden.

In the fall of 1963, after graduating from East, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving on the U.S.S. Champlain, eventually gariing at Top Secret Clearance before attending the Nuclear Weapons School in Norfolk, Virginia. While serving on the Champlain, he took part in the recovery of the Gemini V space capsule and its astronauts. He then served aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid while it was deployed off the coast of Vietnam.

On January 1, 1965, Richard and his high school sweetheart, Judy Carpenter were married. They have two children and three grandchildren.

After military service, Richard was employed as a surveyor for the state department of transportation before entering the retail business. Eventually he opened a NAPA auto parts store in east Knox County. In 1997, after adding Hillard Antique Auto Parts and a mini-warehouse facility, he leased office space to three other businesses.

Richard and his family became members of Macedonia Methodist Church in 1985, where he sang in the choir and taught Sunday School. He has served on the church’s board of trustees and as board chairman. He was asked to serve as chairman of the cemetery committee in 2005. The cemetery was founded in 1809 and Richard has spent hours searching archives and setting up an information station in an effort to discover graves and stones that have been lost to history.

In addition, his wife notes, Richard is quick to help those in need. If a person’s car broke down and they needed to get it fixed to get to a job, no matter the hour, he opened his store to find the correct part. Typical, she says, was the two hours he worked one cold night helping a man repair his forklift so he could get his fragile landscape inventory inside.

The good deeds are only natural – when he was a young Boy Scout, Richard earned the rank of Eagle.


John B. Foster – Class of 1967 (posthumous)

John was on the basketball team, the football team and track team while at East, all laying the groundwork for his later activities coaching sports.

After graduating from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree, he received his master’s and educational specialist degrees from Lincoln Memorial University before returning to East as assistant football coach through 1975. In addition, from 1971 through 1981, he was assistant basketball coach at Austin-East, with his teams winning four district championships. In 1981, he became head basketball coach, leading the teams of 1985 and 1987 to state championships and the teams of 1982 and 1986 to runner-up finishes. He also taught science classes at the school and at Farragut High for more than 40 years.

After retirement, John coached one season in 2005 at Knoxville College. He was named District and State Class AA Coach of the Year for several years and was inducted into the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.

John was a true sportsman, activein fishing, hunting, golfing, basketball, tennis, pool, and building and flying model airplanes, trains and remote-control autos. The Foster home was a mini-zoo with dogs, fish, hermit crabs, an iguana, tarantulas, gerbils, guinea pigs and hamsters.

John was known as “Coach” to all, and was a father figure to many of his players and students. He bought supplies, coats and shoes for students as well as providing them with money when they were running short.

John was married for 46 years to Mamosa Bewely, whom he met when they were students at East. They had two sons, John B. III and Charles A.B., and a daughter, Shaunna, who followed in their footsteps as an educator.


Sherry Wright Nelson – Class of 1963

At East, Sherry was involved in student council, Anchor Club, National Honor Society, the Beacon newspaper, choir, cheerleading, Teen Board, and Thespians. As a senior, she was voted Most Talented.

After graduation, she attended the University of Tennessee, earning a bachelor of science degree in home economics, then earned a master’s in early-childhood education from the University of South Alabama. Her years of teaching include 14 years of middle school in St. Petersburg, Florida, which she says was her most challenging, a year in Environmental education in Lake Wylie, South Carolina, which she says was her most fascinating and mind-altering job, and 20 years teaching early-childhood, which she says was her most enjoyable position.

Sherry loves professional challenges, having worked in nine different public schools. She set up an ESA program in Mobile, Alabama where 12 kindergarten teachers worked in an ancient building with economically deprived children. There was no running water in the facility. She set up the first pre-K classes in two schools in the Lake Wylie area.

She and husband Jay (East High sweetheart) have moved five times, living in Pennsylvania, Alabama, Florida and South Carolina (Columbia and Lake Wylie). In addition they have traveled to Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Europe, and Great Britain.

Sherry is the oldest of four children. Her sister Patti lives in Greeneville, Tennessee, her brother David in Dungannon, Virginia, and brother Phillip in Knoxville. Her brother Robert, who lived in Huntsville, Alabama, died in 2016.

Sherry and Jay are church-focused, and helping local folks through mission work is her passion. She enjoys small, local, grass-roots endeavors where she can engage people and clients. She favors working collectively rather than alone, and enjoys the camaraderie found when good and generous people focus on helping others.

Her personal interests range from clay sculpting, painting water colors and pastels, sewing, quilting, racquetball, running, pickleball, gardening, and cooking. In addition, she says she enjoys feeding and fostering the birds around their house.


James M. (Jay) Nelson – Class of 1963

At East, Jay moved with ease from Thespians, band, glee club to Key Club, Beacon staff, student council (president), National Honor Society, to track, where he was all-KIL.

At the University of Tennessee, he received his bachelor of science degree in civil engineering and went on to work in the pulp and paper industry. A week after graduation from UT, he and high school sweetheart Sherry Wright were married.

From 1970 until 2009, he was in capital-equipment sales, which included paper-machine components by both U.S. and Scandinavian manufacturers, traveling extensively. He spent time in more than 20 countries, including most of Europe, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, New Zealand and Brazil.

Based on friendships developed while traveling, associates from several countries have visited Jay and Sherry during trips to the U.S. The daughter of a colleague in China started high school in the U.S. in 2008 and went on to graduate from Northwestern University in 2015, spending school breaks with Jay and Sherry.

Jay’s personal interests include fishing and music (listening, not playing). After retiring, Jay became a nationally certified emergency medical technician and works several 12-hour shifts per week with a Lake Wylie EMS unit.

Other interests include volunteering with the Catawba Lands Conservancy, taking inventory of salamanders in a protected wetlands area, working with the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, and jogging (before he was betrayed by his body). He is a church trustee and on the EMS board of directors.

As a couple, Jay and Sherry are church-focused and have worked extensively with young people.

And, for “what it’s worth”, Jay says that the two-mile relay team he was a part of in ’62-’63 still holds the school record.

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