Starting Life in Knoxville (Part 5 in series on Dwight Kessel)

By Ralphine Major

“In the beginning of my second-class year which would be a college junior, I decided I did not want to make the Navy a career. I resigned near Thanksgiving in 1947 and went to Beckley (West Virginia) to work for my Dad in his store, Neville Maytag and Furniture,” Dwight Kessel shared. Later, Kessel did emergency teaching in the high schools and drove a Texaco gasoline truck before his friend from the Navy, Don Mirts, convinced him to come to Knoxville, Tennessee, and finish his education at the University of Tennessee (UT). With credits from DUKE and the Naval Academy plus going straight through for two years at UT, Kessel graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering in 1950. His first job was with Knox Stove Works (Knox Metal Products). While at UT, he made many lifelong friends. He also attended a pledge dance where he “spotted a cute little brunette that my fraternity brother knew.” Kessel was introduced to Gloria Jane Grubb. They were married on March 10, 1951, and will celebrate 70 years of marriage in 2021.

While at the Naval Academy, 6th battalion, 22nd Company, Dwight Kessel met Chili Dean, Mont Egerton, and Don Mirts who remained lifelong friends. They all finally settled in Knoxville, Tennessee. Chili Dean became General Manager of Knoxville Utility Board and later on Chairman of the Board of TVA; Mont Egerton went to University of Tennessee Law School and spent the rest of his life as a practicing attorney; and Don Mirts went into sales and became General Manager of Dealers Warehouse Corporation, a building supply business. “Later on, Don found some lake property that he and I bought together and became neighbors. To this day, his boys call me Uncle Dwight,” Kessel said. (To be continued)

Words of Faith: 1 Corinthians 13:1 (KJV), scripture Kessel used as the focus for a talk he gave years ago at a Baptist church in West Virginia. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”

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