Since its inception in 2004, the Clinton High School Wall of Fame has annually added new members. This year’s inductees are Stanley Barnes, Margaret Calhoun, Doug Davis, the late James “Buzz” Elkins, and Ron Kirksey.
Created as part of the school’s centennial celebration, the Wall of Fame seeks to recognize Clinton High graduates who have achieved extraordinary success in their chosen fields, or non-graduates who have greatly contributed to the school. This year’s inductees exemplify those standards.
Mr. Stanley Barnes is a veteran of the United States Army. He received his undergraduate degree and his Master’s degree from the University of Tennessee.
Barnes came to Clinton in 1971 and began what would become a transformation period for the Clinton High School band program. He would lead both the marching band and the concert band to unprecedented heights.
Under Barnes’ leadership, the marching band would perform at national and international events. They performed at the Citrus Bowl in Florida, the Macy’s Parade in New York, and the New Year’s Day Parade in London, England. They won myriad awards including The Greatest Band in Dixie competition.
His concert bands were equally impressive. They performed for the Florida Festival of Winds, two National Band Conventions, the Tennessee Music Association, and the prestigious Mid-West Band Clinic. It was at the latter appearance where he received the Medal of Honor for band directors.
In addition to the C.H.S. Wall of Fame, Barnes is a member of the Tennessee Band Master’s Hall of Fame, the East Tennessee Band and Orchestra Hall of Fame, and the Tennessee Secondary Schools Band Directors Hall of Fame. After retiring from Clinton in 1991 he spent 25 years working for the British Government and Youth Music of the World as a music consultant for their New Year’s Day Parade. It is difficult to imagine a more highly honored band leader.
Mrs. Margaret Calhoun is a life-long Clinton resident. She was the valedictorian of her 1961 high school graduating class and salutatorian of her college graduation at Lincoln Memorial University.
In 1966, Calhoun returned to her high school alma mater and would spend the next 28 years teaching in the English Department. There she would prove to be a tireless worker, a dedicated professional, and an exemplary educator.
She would reach the highest obtainable level in Governor Lamar Alexander’s Career Ladder initiative. She would be named the Outstanding Secondary Teacher of the Year and be nominated for numerous local teacher of the year awards. As with most dedicated educators, Calhoun spent countless hours sponsoring various clubs, activities, and organizations.
She was the faculty advisor for the yearbook, student government, and the National Honor Society. She was also the faculty advisor for the cheerleaders.
Calhoun’s maiden name is Hammer. She is a member of the family that established the iconic Hammer’s – one for Clinton’s most important landmarks. For years she would assist her husband, Don, and her other family members with the daily operation of that store. She did that while teaching full-time. Eventually she would retire from teaching to work full-time in the family business. That business continues to contribute greatly to the schools and other organizations in Clinton.
Calhoun has worked with youth groups in her church and she has taught Sunday School. She takes great pride in the opportunity she had to touch the lives of so many students who, in her words, “Have contributed directly to this community as teachers, farmers, firemen, policemen, local government leaders, employees at local businesses, and as just great mothers and fathers who contribute to make Clinton and Anderson County a wonderful place to raise a family.”
Dr. Doug Davis is a 1966 graduate of the Clinton High School. He received a bachelor’s degree from theUniversity of Tennessee and a master’s and doctorate degree in music composition from Harvard University.
While at Harvard he became a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and was selected by legendary conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein for inclusion in the Norton Lectures Discussion Group. He received the graduate prize fellowship in composition four of the five years he was there.
Davis is a composer and an educator. His compositions have been recorded by noted jazz artists Larry Coryell, Chick Corea, and Bennie Wallace. He has written over 200 compositions. His orchestra works have toured the British Isles, been featured at festivals in Italy and the Ukraine, and recorded in Philadelphia and Budapest.
As an educator, Davis began his teaching career at Emory and Henry in Virginia. After six years he left to join the staff at Cal State University in Bakersfield, California. He would spend the next 35 years leaving an indelible mark on that university and that community.
He would become the chairman of the music department. He would create the Legends of Jazz and Guest Composers concerts. He would perform with Grammy Award winners Michael Brecker and Freddie Hubbard. He would lead his students to many awards and national attention, including two Kennedy Center: Betty Carter Awards.
And Davis would create the world-renowned Bakersfield Jazz Festival, a festival that has brought Grammy Award winning artists to Bakersfield and has awarded $500,000 in scholarships to deserving students.
In 2003 Davis received the prestigious WANG Award as the outstanding professor of the entire 23-campus Cal State University system. He was inducted into the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame, joining more famous inductees Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and Korn.
Davis has travelled a long way from Clinton, but he has never lost his fondness for his hometown. This is evident by his book about growing up in Clinton titled Gifts Given.
Mr. James E. “Buzz” Elkins was a lawyer, a bank executive, and a state legislator. After graduating from Clinton High School, he earned a bachelor’s degree from East Tennessee State University and his doctor of jurisprudence from the University of Tennessee.
His legal career included working with his father, the Honorable J. Leon Elkins, trial justice judge, and local attorney Jerry Shattuck, but he is best known for his ambitious work as a state legislator.
Elkins spent 18 years in the Tennessee General Assembly – 10 as a member of the House of Representatives and eight as a senator. During his tenure he was instrumental in passing significant legislation. He was a leader in the movement to enact stiffer penalties for drunk driving. He sponsored and passed bills that assisted veterans, people with disabilities, and retired educators. He was known for his ability to work with members of both political parties.
Elkins served on numerous committees, including those related to energy, natural resources, and criminal justice. He served as the Republican House whip for the 87th General Assembly.
The projects Elkins championed would lead to improvements at Norris Dam and Cove Lake state parks, Eagle Bend Hatchery, and the Lenoir Museum. He initiated the drive that lead to the creation of a four-lane state highway (Route 61) connecting Clinton and Oak Ridge.
In 1996, in honor of Elkin’s contribution to creating that highway, Senate Joint Resolution 356 stated, “That the segment of State Route 61 in Anderson County from the corporate limits of the City of Oak Ridge northward to the corporate limits of the City of Clinton is hereby designated as the James E. ‘Buzz’ Elkins Memorial Highway.”
After receiving numerous awards for outstanding legislative service from organizations such as Tennessee School Boards Association, Governor’s Advisory Committee on the Handicapped, and Tennessee Vocational Education Advisory Council, Elkins left the political arena. He would eventually become the senior vice president of First American National Bank of Knoxville. He was serving in that capacity when he died suddenly of a heart attack in 1994. He was 55 years old.
Even though he had been out of politics for eight years, the General Assembly felt moved to pass a resolution honoring his service. Part of it reads, “We hereby honor the memory of Senator James E. ‘Buzz’ Elkins, reflecting fondly upon his indelible legacy of proficient public service and professional excellence. Senator Elkins always upheld the public trust and his commitment to the welfare of his fellow citizens is truly inspirational.
Mr. Ron Kirksey is a 1965 graduate of Clinton High School, where he played basketball and was a delegate to Boys’ State. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in political science (international studies) from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Arts degree in journalism/media management from Kent State University.
During the Vietnam War era Kirksey was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. There he would become a U.S. Army journalist, a move that would begin his career in journalism. He would later spend more than 20 years writing for newspapers, most of that time as an editorial writer, editor, and columnist.
Kirksey worked for the Paris (Tennessee) Post-Intelligencer and the Kingsport Times News before moving to Ohio. His weekly column for the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal was published regularly throughout the United States through the Knight Rider Wire Services. His columns, articles, and travel writing have been published in the New York Times, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, St. Paul Pioneer Press, and Dallas Morning News, among others.
Kirksey has received numerous writing awards during his career, but in 1994 he received the ultimate recognition. He was the lead writer on a year-long project for the Beacon Journal that focused on race-relations in the Akron area. For that project, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The Pulitzer is a pinnacle no other C.H.S. alumni can claim. In fact, only seven other University of Tennessee alumni can claim one.
More recently, Kirksey served as executive director for University Communications at Kent State University until his retirement. He is a former president of both the Akron Press Club and the Akron Area Public Relations Society of America and a former member of the National Conference of Editorial Writers.
This year’s inductees have demonstrated excellence in diverse fields. From the classroom to the state capitol, from Ohio to California, from the academic world to the political arena, these five individuals have a track record of extraordinary accomplishments. As per tradition, they will ride in the homecoming parade and be honored prior to kick-off of the homecoming game. This year homecoming is Friday, October 20th.