Betty Sharp, Community Leader

By Ralphine Major They first appeared in my column on the front page of The Focus, September 10, 2012, “Volunteers of Time and Talent.”  In their retirement, Betty and Clayton Sharp dedicated endless hours to a number of worthwhile causes in the Gibbs Community and far beyond. In 2012, they were among the Senior Stars […]

‘The Virginian,’ the Hero

  By Ralphine Major It was the first year I started writing for The Focus when Hollywood cowboy stars James Drury and Robert Fuller moseyed into Morristown for the Western Legends Festival.  I had committed to the Morristown Chamber of Commerce to write about the festival when they arranged for the cowboys to call […]

Celebrating Mother’s Day Amid a Pandemic

By Ralphine Major Holidays.  They are one of the few events on the calendar that are not canceled these days because of the Coronavirus.  It is the way in which we must celebrate them that has changed. Mother’s Day is one of the most popular days of the year.  Phone calls, flowers, gifts, and […]

Class of 2020

By Ralphine Major It is the only picture of me wearing cap and gown for high school graduation.  I had forgotten that then Gibbs High School assistant principal Roy Mullins handed out our diplomas because our principal, Max Clendenen, had suffered a stroke. Clendenen was our father’s agriculture teacher at Gibbs before becoming principal, […]

Almost Normal

  By Ralphine Major It was the day before Palm Sunday.  I stepped outside to a beautiful Saturday morning.  Birds were singing!  The sun was coming up!  It seemed the entire landscape had turned green overnight.  Signs of spring were everywhere!  Everything felt normal—almost. As I opened the car door, my mind raced back to […]

Creed Daniel, Master of the Keyboard

Creed Daniel, Master of the Keyboard

  By Ralphine Major They said, “Creed tore it up!”  I heard that comment referring to Creed Daniel’s piano playing at the Grainger County Tomato Festival last year.  The long-time Grainger County attorney’s talents are certainly not limited to the courtroom. After graduating from Carson-Newman, Creed had the chance to play piano for a […]

‘Creed Daniel, that’s who!’

By Ralphine Major Those were the words our mother overheard one morning.  We had stopped at a restaurant in Grainger County on our way to the annual Grainger County Tomato Festival.  Some locals on the other side of the divider that separated our tables were evidently discussing an upcoming court case when one of […]

An unusual spring

By Ralphine Major 2020 is bringing us a different kind of spring.  As if cancellation of basketball’s March Madness was not enough disruption, more events are canceled or postponed due to the Coronavirus.  For now, no Smokies games or college baseball games are scheduled.  It is possible there will be no high school proms or […]

Hope in the crisis

  By Ralphine Major The magnitude of our nation’s most recent health crisis has been mind boggling.  Only one week ago I was writing about what I thought was big news—no fans would be allowed at the NCAA Basketball Tournaments.  That seems like a year ago.  Since then, the intensity of the Coronavirus has escalated […]


  By Ralphine Major No fans?  What is March Madness without fans! It has never happened before.  The long-awaited basketball tournament games will be played this year with no fans in the stands.  The unprecedented move is a testament to the seriousness of the Coronavirus that has been declared a global pandemic. Every year, people […]