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Marvin Whitaker

Posted Tuesday, October 26, 2010, at 1:30 PM

I was sorry to hear of the death of former Cascade School / Bell Buckle principal Marvin Whitaker, a fine man.

It is actually Mr. Whitaker who gets some of the credit (or blame, depending on whom you are) for me winding up at the Times-Gazette.

In 1985, what I had thought would be an exciting opportunity working for two of my college professors had fallen through and I had moved back home to Bedford County, tail between my legs. I had taken a few journalism courses as part of my mass communications degree, and I decided to apply at the Times-Gazette. Chris Shofner had not yet officially been named editor, but he was doing the job, the previous editor having just quit. Chris talked about how short-handed the newsroom was, sounded delighted at the prospect of hiring me and took me in to meet the publisher, Franklin Yates.

Mr. Yates gruffly informed me that the newspaper had no openings at the moment. I left my résumé but I was dejected. I wondered what I'd done to offend him.

Meanwhile, Mr. Yates didn't bother calling any of the references I'd listed. Instead, he noted that I had graduated from Cascade in 1980 and called Marvin Whitaker. Mr. Whitaker, at the time, was the lay leader at Bell Buckle United Methodist Church, part of a three-point charge my father was pastoring. Mr. Whitaker probably told Mr. Yates that I had hung the moon and several of the major stars. Mr. Yates called me back in for a second interview a few days later and I started on the Monday after the Independence Day holiday weekend.

That was 25 years ago this year, by the way.

Anyway, Mr. Whitaker was a fine man, and a fine educator, and he'll be missed.

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John...agree totally! Though my student/educator time with him was 20+ years before yours (old BBHS), Mr. Whitaker was a man who poured his all into the education process for a few thousand BBHS/Cascade kids, and I feel sure all were made better in many respects by having been a part of that process. I was also blessed to know him through the years as a friend, and they just don't come much better than Marvin Whitaker! My condolences to Paul and Lynn and their families...in my book, your Dad was a gentleman of the highest order. Thanks for sharing him with us!!

-- Posted by dkd57 on Wed, Oct 27, 2010, at 12:55 AM

I attended both Bell Buckle Jr. High School until the fire and then Cascade High School. I recall Mr. Whitaker as being a soft spoken, but resolute man, who as principal just wasn't going to put up with any of my shenanigans. I learned to respect him for that. He was a fine principal and educator who honestly tried to help every student he came into contact with, if he could. He was one of the best.

-- Posted by Tim Lokey on Wed, Oct 27, 2010, at 9:45 AM

I also have fond memories of Mr Whitaker. I remember the photo in the T-G of him running with two trophys from the burning Bell Buckle school many years ago. I graduated high school with you John and I have the same memories as you do and many more as I knew him as my school principal from of course Bell Buckle before the days of Cascade. He was one of the best!!

-- Posted by Photographer one on Sun, Oct 31, 2010, at 11:19 AM

Thanks for your kind words about my dad. In the coming weeks, Paul and I plan to set up a scholarship fund at Cascade High School in his and my mom's memory. Anyone who cares to add to it, please look for details later. We felt it was a fitting memorial and one that would please them both.

-- Posted by lynnhodge on Mon, Nov 15, 2010, at 9:52 PM

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John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.
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