obituaries

On the passing of political reporter Rebecca Ferrar (aka ‘Lucifer’ and ‘Becky Bear’)

Rebecca Lynn Ferrar, who died of a heart attack this week at age 72, was given the joshing nickname ‘Lucifer’ during 11 years in Nashville as a reporter on state government and politics for the Knoxville News Sentinel.

She was my professional colleague for those years and a friend both before the newspaper’s management sent her to the state capitol to beef up reporting on state-level government and after they sent her back to Knoxville to shrink such coverage in accord with nationwide media downsizing trends (and, it’s fair to add, to enhance coverage of East Tennessee government and politics).

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Claude Ramsey — former deputy governor, mayor and legislator — dies aged 75

Claude Ramsey, who rose from third-generation Hamilton County strawberry farmer to deputy governor of Tennessee, died Monday at the age of 75, reports the Times Free Press.

In more than 40 years of public service, he was elected five times as county mayor, four times as assessor of property, twice to the Tennessee General Assembly and once as county commissioner. Ramsey never lost an election.

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Lewis Lavine, advisor to governors and non-profit groups, dies aged 71

Lewis Lavine, who served as chief of staff to then-Gov. Lamar Alexander in the 1980s and went on to a career as a public relations specialist with a focus on non-profit organizations, died of heart failure Wednesday at the age of 71. He also was an advisor to Gov. Bill Haslam in the early days of the current governor’s administration.

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Former TVA board chairman John Waters dies age 88

John B. Waters, who served as chairman of both the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Tennessee Valley Authority,   has died at the age of 88, reports the News Sentinel.

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Retired TN Supreme Court Justice Frank Drowota dies, age 79

Frank F. Drowota III, who served 25 years on the Tennessee Supreme Court before retiring in 2006, has died at age 79.

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Businessman Paul Harper, husband of state senator, dies aged 79

Nashville businessman Paul Wilson Harper, husband of state Sen. Thelma Harper, has died at age 79 “after a year of slowly declining health,” reports the Tennessee Tribune.

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Northeast Tennessee DA dies on weekend trip to Nashville

Anthony “Tony” Clark of Unicoi County, district attorney general for the 1st Judicial District of Northeast Tennessee, died Sunday while on a trip with family to Nashville, reports the Johnson City Press. Police say he died of “natural causes” and had been scheduled to undergo a medical procedure in Nashville this week while others say he was also in the capitol city for an Eagles concert held Saturday.

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David Kernell, who as UT student hacked Sarah Palin’s email account, dead at age 30

David Kernell,  the son of a former Tennessee legislator from Memphis who guessed his way into Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s personal email account in 2008, has died in California at age 30, reports the Commercial Appeal.

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Former state Sen. Joe Haynes dies aged 81

Joe M. Haynes, a Nashville lawyer who served almost 30 years as a state legislator including a decade as Senate Democratic Caucus chairman, has died at age 81.

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Disgraced former Judge Richard Baumgartner found dead

Richard Baumgartner, who served 19 years as Knox County Criminal Court judge before resigning in disgrace amidst a drug scandal, died Tuesday at the age of 70, reports the News Sentinel.

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