By Ralphine Major
His formal name was Cloyd Booker Chesney, but he was known as C. B. to most. He grew up in Corryton, graduated from Gibbs High School and Carson-Newman, and began a long and exemplary career in education. Karns was the place where a student named Bob Dagley met Chesney. After Dagley’s long-running career in education, he still remembers the principal who influenced him so greatly.
“He was a stern principal, but he was also very fair. He knew how to use his paddle, but he also knew how to put his hand on a student’s shoulder and give him words of encouragement when he needed it. There is no way of knowing how many students he kept from quitting school by saying encouraging words when they needed it,” Dagley recalls. “He had a shrill whistle he used if someone was in the hall after the tardy bell rang. You could not imagine how fast the halls emptied,” Dagley added. One incident stands out in Dagley’s mind about Mr. Chesney. “Once, he was looking out of a second floor window and saw a student take the keys a teacher had left in her car door. He looked up the student’s schedule, went to that class, and announced that the teacher had lost her car keys and was offering a $5 reward for them. Then, he went back to the office and waited. Within five minutes a boy came running to the office and said that he had found her keys. Mr. Chesney stood up and said, ‘You rascal. I saw you take those keys.’”
Bob Dagley did not know if he would ever have a chance to go to college. But one day, Chesney told him he needed to take a certain course because he would need it in college. “I know he made contacts and helped me get into college,” the future coach said. “He will always be remembered by me as the one who helped this country boy to become the first one in my family to graduate from college,” Dagley added. “I have my deepest respect for him and what he did for me.”
Chesney is credited with helping start the original Teachers Credit Union in Knox County. In later years, the Chesneys worked at the voting site in Karns. One of Dagley’s players, Ron Graves, remembers those times as highlights—getting to see C. B. and his wife. “Chesney knew my parents,” Ron recalls. When the Chesneys were no longer able to work at the polls, Ron said it just wasn’t the same.
Cloyd Booker (C. B.) Chesney, still remembered today as one of this area’s great leaders in education.
Piddle Diddle update:
Thunder Road Author Rally, Maynardville Public Library, 296 Main Street, Maynardville, Tennessee, Saturday, September 12 book signing, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., 992-7106.