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William R. “Russ” Oaks, 64, passed away unexpectedly Aug. 16, 2023, at home in Andersonville. He was born in Knoxville, and was preceded in death by his parents, William “Bill” Oaks and Robinette Catherine Kesley Oaks. Russ grew up in Halls. He graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 1981, and was commissioned as an Armor Officer in the U.S. Army. His duty posts included Fort Hood; Fort Knox; Headquarters, US Army, Europe in Germany; Fort Leavenworth; Fort Stewart; and the Pentagon. During his time at Fort Stewart, he was deployed to Kuwait twice. He retired as a Lt. Colonel after 20 years of service to his country. After his retirement in 2001, he accepted a position with Knox County Schools. He served in several jobs culminating with Chief Operating Officer. He retired in 2022. Russ was a rock for his family, his friends, and his colleagues. He was described as reserved, reliable, responsible, supportive, a problem solver, kind, generous, a good leader, pragmatic, and inspired those qualities in others. He was steadfast. In his retirement he rekindled a hobby from his high school days, Ham radio. He also enjoyed woodworking, repairing anything around the house (he was usually successful), and genealogy. He had recently become involved with the Union County Cemetery Association as several of his ancestors are interred in that county. He is survived by: Wife of 33 years, Teri; son Will; three brothers, Randy (Jo Dell), Michael, and David (Allison); niece, Rebekah; and nephew Jeffrey; and numerous cousins in the Knoxville area and Florida. The family will receive friends from 4 – 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, at Mynatt Funeral Home, Halls Chapel with a celebration of life to follow. In lieu of flowers, it is suggested that donations be made to Anderson County High School Band, Clinton, TN which Will was a member of for four years, or your favorite organization/charity. Online condolences may be sent to


On Aug. 16, 2023, surrounded by her beloved family, Avonia Gail (Taylor) Rubright, 64, Clinton, passed away after a courageous battle with cancer. Gail was born Aug. 24, 1958, to Earl Taylor and Pearl Lane in Knoxville. After Gail graduated from Young High School in 1976, she earned a nursing degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and began her first nursing job at Baptist Hospital. She went back to school to complete a master’s degree in nursing administration from East Tennessee State University allowing her to work for the Tennessee Department of Health until she retired in 2022. In June 2012, Gail married Tom Rubright, blending two families together. Gail and Tom shared a love of traveling, whether it was on the back of a motorcycle through the mountains, on a cruise ship to a tropical destination, or on a simple beach trip with family. The importance of spending time with family was evident in their presence at school productions, ballgames, dance recitals, graduations, and musicals. Both Tom and Gail loved attending Highland View Church of Christ for years and are currently members of Hardin Valley Church of Christ. Gail loved the Lord and was a selfless servant of Christ, an excellent example of loving your neighbor as yourself. She tirelessly and generously put into practice a love for serving others, putting others first, and helping people in need. Her smile was infectious and made you feel accepted when that smile was directed toward you. She was driven and determined, hard-working and caring, a thoughtful gift-giver, and an avid Vol fan. She held several titles…mother, wife, nurse, sister…the icing on the cake being her job as Nana. She loved her sons but her granddaughter, Lynlee became her world. She was preceded in death by: Parents, Earl Taylor and Pearl Lane; her dear stepfather, Clifford Lane; and nephew, Christopher Kinkead. She is survived by: Beloved husband, Tom Rubright; son, Eric Salage and his wife Chanell; son, David Salage; granddaughter, Lynlee Salage; brothers, Donnie Lane, David Taylor and wife Erin Taylor; sister, Renee Lane; nieces and nephews, Austin Kinkead, Madison Taylor, Donnie Lane Jr., Stacy Sweeney; many great-nieces and nephews; and the Rubright family: stepdaughter, Teresa McNelly and her husband Doug; stepdaughter, Jennifer Cummins and her husband Eric, stepdaughter, Cara Sheets and her husband Trevor; grandchildren, Becca Ray, Savannah McNeely, Sydney McNelly, Neal, Ben, Luke, and William Cummins, Anderson and Crosby Sheets. A receiving of friends is scheduled from 5 – 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, at Holley Gamble Funeral Home in Clinton, with a service to follow. Graveside services will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023, at Grandview Memorial Garden, Clinton. Larry Cline, minister at Hardin Valley Church of Christ, will be officiating. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution in memory of Gail to The American Cancer Society or The University of Tennessee Medical Center. Gifts can be made online ( or sent to the Office of Philanthropy at: 2121 Medical Center Way, Suite 110, Knoxville, TN 37920. Gail’s legacy of helping those in need could also be continued at Christmastime by generously giving to and supporting ministries that help provide presents and necessities to local children. Holley Gamble Funeral Home in Clinton is in charge of all arrangements.


Velma “Chestine” Beaty Farr, 92, Powell, passed away peacefully in the care of Sacred Ground Hospice House Tuesday, July 18, 2023. Mrs. Farr was born July 24, 1930, in Forbus. Chestine graduated as salutatorian from York Institute (High School) in Jamestown in 1948, where she earned a scholarship to attend Tennessee Technological University. At TTU, she studied to become a teacher and later taught school for two years at the elementary school she attended as well as York Institute. She later attended the Tennessee School of Beauty in Oak Ridge and then ran her own shop in Claxton for a few years, Edgemoor Beauty Shop. Her business and beauty skills later came to benefit her whole family when she became the in-house beautician for her children, grandchildren, and other beloved family members. In the summer of 1952, Chestine’s cousin invited her to spend the summer in Dayton, Ohio. It was while she was working in Ohio, that Chestine met her future husband, Bruce Jackson Farr. Bruce, a Marine from Tennessee, was working in Dayton as well. They met on July 13, 1952, and he claims to this day, that it was the luckiest day of his life. They married on Nov. 8, 1952, and were together for 71 years. Chestine worked outside of her home for many years, but for the most part, she considered herself to be a fulltime homemaker. She enjoyed English and was an avid reader. She taught all three of her children to read by age four and diagram sentences by 7th grade. She ensured that all of her grandchildren were early readers as well. Chestine’s grandchildren loved visiting her and finding toys, puzzles, and arts and crafts activities in the “toy closet” in the hallway in her home to play with her. A proficient seamstress, her sewing skills evolved into a love for quilting and she happily made quilts for multiple family members. Mrs. Farr was a member of the Tennessee Order of Eastern Star (369 Clinch Valley Chapter) for years. Chestine and Bruce have been members of Wallace Memorial Baptist Church in Knoxville for many years. In her spare time, she enjoyed shopping, dressing up, traveling with her husband to Korean War veteran events, and spending time with her family. She had a great sense of humor and always made people laugh. She was preceded in death by: Parents, James “Caster” and Nova Tennessee (Upchurch) Beaty; son, Ivan Brent Farr; son-in-law, John M. Miller; and sister, Mary Beaty (Fred) Farley. She is survived by: Husband, Bruce Jackson Farr; daughters, Judy Farr Miller and Jill Farr Browder (Tom) Smith; daughter-in-law, Carolyn Goans Farr; grandchildren, Brandy Miller (Chris) Vachtsevanos, Brittany Browder (Adam) Boone, William Miller, Julia Browder (David) Grubb, Cara Farr (Fiancée, Hunter Smith), and Allison Farr; great-grandchildren, Ellie and Sophia Vachtsevanos, Brighton and Bodey Boone, Elowen Grubb; sister, Gail Beaty (Danny) Voiles; numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. The family will receive friends at Holley Gamble Funeral Home from 10 a.m. - noon Saturday, July 29, 2023, immediately followed with a service officiated by the Rev. Kent Williams. Graveside service and internment will be at Woodhaven Memorial Gardens at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Sacred Ground Residential Hospice or a charity of your choice. The family wishes to thank the staff at NHC Place Farragut and Sacred Ground Hospice House for their wonderful care of Mrs. Farr.


On the evening of Tuesday, July 18, 2023, Steve Brown, a great friend to many, slipped quietly and peacefully into his eternity after a short illness. From the moment in time that he was diagnosed, his wife and family were there to tend to his every need. In his last week, Steve’s loved ones kept a round-the-clock vigil at his bedside; praying; holding his hands; reminiscing with life stories; and never leaving his side. Steve was born Feb. 5, 1965, and raised in the Frost Bottom community of Oliver Springs. He was the youngest of eight children and was commonly and affectionately known as “da baby” and “baby brother” throughout his life – even in his adult years. The Brown kids were spread out over approximately 20 years, so growing up, his sisters, Alma and Wilma, tried to spoil him rotten. Because of the age difference, Steve grew up with many of his nieces and nephews. Steve was always outside rounding everyone up to play some sort of ball game. They all hoped they would end up on his team because they knew no matter what sport it was, he played to win. His competitiveness and grit were instilled in him at an early age by his big brother Jim (Big Jim). Most would say, losing wasn’t in his vocabulary. This trait stayed with him throughout life. Growing up, there was never a dull moment around Steve, and it was never known what he would do next. He even made a golf course out of 2-liter Coke bottle bottoms to teach his nieces and nephews how to play. Steve learned to be tough growing up with four older brothers. He survived being trampled by a pony and ran over by a motorcycle — both at the hands of his brother Larry. Steve was known as the “fun uncle” that was adored and revered by all his nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and great-nephews. Steve attended Oliver Springs schools and even ventured over to Clinton’s rival (Anderson County) for a brief period, but he would soon find out his blood ran orange and black. When love calls, the heart can change, and this is where he met the love of his life, the former Lisa Rena’ Smith. They met while working at the local McDonald’s, and Lisa was one of his managers. Steve learned the importance of respect and keeping the boss happy (this later translated into “happy wife, happy life”). Steve and Lisa were married for 37 years and raised their three children in Clinton. The word “dad” was by far his favorite title and he never took it lightly; however, his grandbabies would tell you that being called “Grandpapa” was the best. Steve was a hands-on dad, always hustlin’ his work buddies at a game of pick-up ball with his daughter, Alicia. He always convinced them to play because “he was only bringing his little girl and he knew they didn’t really have a chance to win.” Needless to say, Steve always left with a big smile on his face saying, “Sorry boys, she’s a ringer.” Because of Steve’s passion for sports, it was only natural that he passed that trait to his children and grandchildren. He was their biggest fan as well as their biggest critic. He could be tough, but he also had a very soft (and big) heart. Of all the things Steve accomplished in life, he would always say that his children were his greatest accomplishment and his pride and joy. Another thing he passed along was the love for his favorite NFL team, formerly the “Oakland” Raiders. The biggest contribution one can make to their community is their time. Steve loved sports (all sports) and Steve also loved kids, so it was only natural that he became “Coach Steve.” He was known for always wearing a visor, his loud raspy voice, tough love, and he loved every child he coached, whether it was his own or not. Everyone seemed to love Steve, including most referees and umpires, even when they didn’t always see eye-to-eye. Steve touched the lives of many families throughout his coaching years (Lil’ Rascals, East Tennessee Pearls, Clinton High School Softball, Unleased, Wolfpack, Coalfield, and countless rec teams) and each player, coach, and parent left an impact on him as well. Steve often affectionately referred to his players as his “little knot-heads.” Steve positively encouraged and motivated his teams with statements like “always believe;” “work hard and you will succeed;” and “never quit.” He had an ability to push players to their full potential while at the same time making competition fun. Steve was employed for almost 35 years at Techmer PM serving as a Plant Supervisor. His coworkers commonly knew him as their “fearless leader” and he had the reputation for jumping in to help when needed. A few years ago when President Obama visited East Tennessee and toured Techmer PM, Steve was bestowed the honor to help serve as one of his escorts and explained Plant operations. If you ever tried to “one up” Steve, he would reply, “Well, have you ever met the President?!” Steve was commonly referred to as a jokester and the family comedian. While Steve fought his health battles and his health declined over the past few months, he continued to be an encouragement to others with his sense of humor as there was never self-pity. During his month-long stint in the hospital, in Steve Brown competitive style, he joked with all the nurses about how he was going to win “patient of the week.” He would tell everyone that his wife, Nurse Lisa, “was the best nurse he’d ever had.” He reminded his family often, “I have lived a great life,” and repeatedly told them “it’ll be okay.” Even with a dim prognosis, Steve fought his illness bravely and courageously while also assuring us that he was ready. S ome additional strong advice he gave us was, “the past is the past,” and “don’t have hate in your heart.” What a better world we would have if we all lived by Steve’s advice. Steve sealed his acceptance into heaven as a believer in Jesus Christ and a professed Christian. He was a long-time member of Calvary Baptist Church in Oak Ridge. Even as Steve exited this world, his competitive spirit was exhibited as he beat older family members to Heaven. No doubt, the welcoming committee at the Pearly Gates included family members: Son, Anthony; parents, Clifton and Ruby Brown; brothers, Terry, Wayne, and Doug; nephew, Jason Griffith; and father-in-law, John Smith. Steve leaves behind to cherish his memory: Wife and soulmate, Lisa; daughters, Alicia Brown Phillips and Gracie Brown; three grandchildren whom he adored, Harper Phillips, Henley Phillips and Anthony Phillips; brothers, Jim (Connie) of Soddy Daisy and Larry (Lisa) of Oliver Springs; sisters Alma Lively (Billy) and Wilma Griffith (Bobby Kilgore), both of Oliver Springs; mother and father-in-law, Julie and Lee Barth of Athens; brother-in-law, Greg Smith (Kym) of Andersonville; sister-in-law, Valerie Smith of Andersonville; sister-in-law, Rhonda Brown of Clinton; special extended family, Bruce and Zobie Rockers of Farragut; his Techmer PM family; many extended family members including nieces, nephews, and cousins; and many very special friends. Steve was also adored and will be missed by his 4-legged family members, Odie and Wolfie. The life of Steve Brown, “the man, the myth, the legend, the coach,” will be celebrated from 5 – 8 p.m. Monday, July 24, 2023, at Holley-Gamble Funeral Home in Clinton with the service beginning at 8 p.m. A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 25, 2023, at Anderson Memorial Gardens in Clinton. Services will be conducted by Dr. Steve McDonald, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church. Serving as pallbearers will be: Jimmy Brown, Casey Daugherty, Mark Raines, Kirk Sliger, Brandon Smith, Brian Walker, Jason Webber, and Shane Woods. Our family invites all of our family and friends to join us as we honor and celebrate a life well lived. Memorial contributions can be made to Clinton High School basketball/softball programs and mailed to 425 Dragon Drive, Clinton TN 37716. “There are some who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone, the light remains.” -Unknown


Betty Sue Ridenour, 82, passed away Monday, July 17, 2023, at her home in Andersonville. Betty was an avid gardener, farmer, animal lover and an avid Courier News reader. She was preceded in death by: Husband of 56 years, Douglas Ridenour; parents, Edward and Sophie Spears; brothers, Woody Spears and Darrell Spears; sisters, Francis Dishmon, Lynnis Spears and Shirley Savage. She is survived by: Son, Scott (Angela) Ridenour; grandson, Waylon Matthew Ridenour; sister, Claudia Weaver; several nieces and nephews; a host of family members and many friends; and her beloved dog, Nala. The family will receive friends from 5 – 7 p.m. Friday, July 21, 2023, with a funeral service to follow. A private graveside service will be held at a later time. The Staff at Holley Gamble Funeral Home is honored to serve the family of Mrs. Betty Sue Ridenour.


David Lee Copeland, 87, Oak Ridge, passed away peacefully July 14, 2023. David was born Oct. 29, 1935, in the pre-Oak Ridge community of Robertsville to J. Nash and Juanita Lowe Copeland. When he was seven years old, his family moved to Clinton to make way for the Manhattan Project. David attended school in Clinton and in Sarasota, Fla., before his family moved back to Tennessee where he graduated from Oak Ridge High School in 1953. After a year at the University of Tennessee and a brief stint in the Navy, David began working for the B. F. Goodrich Tire Company as a tire representative servicing area stores and garages. While working training for this job at Farrport on Alcoa Highway he met Johnnie Brockman. They had four children and were married for almost 68 years before Johnnie's death on May 4, 2023. David's assignments with B.F. Goodrich took his growing family to Gainesville, Ga., Dalton, Ga., Crossville, and Athens. While living in Athens during the 1960s, David was active in the BPOE 1927 Elks Lodge and served as one of its youngest Exalted Rulers. He and Johnnie also served as co-campaign chair of the McMinn County Republican party. In 1970, the Copeland family relocated back to Oak Ridge where David began running Copeland Auto Supply after his father's retirement. He continued his involvement in the Elks at BPOE Lodge 1684 eventually serving as Exalted Ruler, and as a member of the Ritual Team. David was also on the Board of Directors for the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce and active in Rotary. After retirement in the 1990s, David became involved in the Oak Ridge Playhouse, serving on its Board of Directors and acting in several productions, including "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" where his role forever earned him the nickname "Big Daddy" by many who knew him from that time. During the 90's he also appeared in several local television commercials, print ads, and had a small but memorable speaking part as "Coach Gainer" in the feature film "October Sky." David also enjoyed golf and with a group of dear friends. David and Johnnie went on many a golfing trip to the courses around the U.S. and to Scotland. David also enjoyed time with his friends "The Coffee Mafia." David was preceded in death by: Wife, Johnnie Copeland; son, Mark Douglas Copeland; and brother, Robert Nash Copeland. Survivors include: Daughter and son-in-law, Terry and Robert Pfeiffer of Oak Ridge; son and daughter-in-law, David Jr. and Kandi Copeland of Oak Ridge; daughter and son-in-law, Jean and Barry Wells of Gallatin; grandson, Matthew Eli Miller; granddaughter, Kelly Copeland Williams (Chris); step-grandson, Michael Pfeiffer (Megan Wade); brother and sister-in-law, Bill and Pat Copeland of Pearl River, La.; great-granddaughter, Audrey Akin; step-great-grandsons, Addicus and Adrien Simpson; and several nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends 10-11 a.m. Saturday, July 29, 2023, at First United Methodist Church Oak Ridge. A memorial service will follow at 11 a.m. with the Rev. Mark Flynn officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to the charity of your choice. Online condolences may be left at

Jesse Preston Phillips

Jesse Preston Phillips, 36, passed away Friday July 14, 2023, in Jackson. Jesse enjoyed riding horses, motorcycles, fishing and spending time with his sons and family. He loved doing mechanic work, construction work, and heating and maintenance. Jesse was a jack of all trades. He was a momma’s boy. He will be missed dearly but will always remain in the hearts of those who his smile and love has touched. Jesse was preceded in death by: Father, Jesse William Phillips; grandparents, the Rev. Bob and Dorothy Phillips, Charles and Anna Ruth Currier; and special aunt, Brenda Lindsay. He is survived by: Mother, Rebecca McKenzie; sons, Jesse Cordell Phillips, Cameron Wayne Phillips, and Michael David Phillips; sisters, Cyndi Inklebarger, Bridgette and husband Derrick Woods, Tonka McKenzie Jackson; foster sisters, Brenda Sue Flack, Diane Neal, Melody Maiden and Brandy Lindsay Cook; aunts, Evelyn and husband Steve Renner, Chris and husband Mike Tucker, Debbie Holt, and Susan and husband Bobby Ramsey; uncles, Bobby Phillips, Roger Phillips, Danny and wife Sandy Phillips, Johnny and wife Mary Currier, and Edward Smith; nephews, Eric and wife Taylor Jones, Justin Tidwell, Logan Tidwell and Branden Dye; nieces, Brittney and husband Ricky Scalf, and Brandi and wife Jessica Loving, Samantha and husband Derrick Ballard; special friend, Barbara Cockrum; great-nieces and nephews and many other friends and family members. The family will receive friends from 3 p.m. until time of Jesse's celebration of life service at 5 p.m. Saturday, July 22, 2023, in the Chapel of Jones Mortuary in Clinton. The Rev. David Crowe will officiate. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Jones Mortuary. Jones Mortuary of Clinton, Tennessee is serving the family of Jesse Preston Phillips.


On June 29, 2023, Jason Wayne Davis of Andersonville went to be with his Creator and Savior after struggling with the very real thing … mental illness. Jason was born Oct. 7, 1980, to Teresa Davis and Frank Davis Jr. As a junior in high school at Anderson County High School, Jason met the love of his life and future wife in their accounting class, Rene. They were wed for 19 years. Jason and his wife brought two beautiful children into the world — Brooke and Parker, iin 2007 and 2009. Jason was preceded in death by his maternal grandfather, Frank White. Jason is survived by: Forever loving wife, Rene Davis; two loving children, Brooke and Parker Davis; parents, Frank and Teresa Davis; sister, Tessa Carroll; brother-in-law, Brad Carroll; sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Rebecca and Jeff Connell; grandparents, Billie White; Frank Davis Sr. and Barbara Davis. Jason is also survived by many beloved aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews; his best friends, Jeremy Pyatt and Robert Mayes; and many other friends and neighbors. Jason was a man who exuded positivity and offered support to those around him. He was a member of Hillvale Missionary Baptist Church. He could be found at a multitude of places — manicuring the lawn of the house he built for him and his family, showing off his recently acquired bear and wolf tattoos at CrossFit, or watching the news late into the night with the dogs he held so dear to his heart. He will be forever missed, and sadly never understood that he was very close to many. The family will receive friends at Holley Gamble Funeral Home from 5 – 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 5, 2023, with a funeral service at 7 p.m. Interment will be at Grandview Memorial Garden at 1 p.m. Thursday, July 6, 2023, with the Rev. Allen Giles officiating. Holley Gamble Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements