By Steve Hunley
The Focus carries a special remembrance of Ben Atchley, who passed away last week. It is a reminder to us all of a different time in the political landscape of Knox County of how a truly good man prospered in the turmoil of Tennessee politics.
Ben Atchley exemplified integrity and character throughout his long service in the Tennessee General Assembly. Atchley was respected by his colleagues and constituents. Ben Atchley was the personification of a type of Republican that has virtually ceased to exist in our world today. To say that the absence of folks like Ben Atchley in politics is a loss to our state and nation is gross understatement.
Ben Atchley was one of those public officials who sought to really wrestle with problems and offer viable solutions. Senator Atchley tried to make government work for the people back home.
The esteem for Ben Atchley by his people is the greatest indicator of both his character and effectiveness as a public servant. Throughout his long tenure as a state representative and senator, Ben Atchley remained a champion at the ballot box, never defeated. “Bennie” Atchley retired to his South Knoxville home and was lovingly watched over by his devoted wife, Sue, who remains a towering figure in our community.
Tennesseans have shown their affection and regard for Ben Atchley in a number of ways: the South Knoxville post office is named for Atchley, but perhaps the greatest tribute to the late former state senator is the veteran’s home named for him. There are not enough public facilities or buildings in Atchley’s former district that could be named for him, but Ben Atchley was genuinely a modest and self-effacing man.
The greatest legacy any public official can leave his or her community, as indicated in the special remembrance of Ben Atchley in the pages of the Knoxville Focus is that of finding a special place in the hearts of the people one serves. Ben Atchley accomplished that and much more during his lifetime and there is no greater legacy than that.