(c)2013 NPT PHOTO BY DAVID POPIEL At the Newport First Free Will Baptist Church on Sunday, October 6, for homecoming the Lillard clan gathered. The very front row from left with three grandchildren are Karlie Souder, Isaiah Runions, and Sophia Runions. Back row from left to right are Tommy V. Lillard, III holding son, Vinnie, and his wife, Julie Lillard; Donald Suggs and his wife, Kim (Lillard) Suggs; Logan Suggs, Dylan Runions, Hunter Suggs, Mackenzie Souder, Alexis Suggs; Carolyn and Tommy V. Lillard Jr.; Julie (Lillard) Souder and husband, Steve Souder: Randy Runions and wife, Lori (Lillard) Runions.
Friday, October 25, 2013
(Last modified: 2013-10-25 23:25:54)
Author: David Popiel
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

Haunting time is upon us once again with the first freeze of the season gripping our hometown, as the temperatures plummet into the 20s, yet there is hope ahead for a warming trend.

During a visit at the gas utility, Tommy Bible, the general manager, was happy to see natural gas volumes increase. But he said the 90-day long-range forecast is still for above normal temperatures. I glanced at my Lowland Credit Union calendar and sure enough this week’s days are each marked with a bold “cold” sign. But you can warm up with hot donuts now that the Bryant Town donut shop finally opened last week. Or you can curl up in front of the fireplace with a book, as I see the Books & More shop opened in Arvis Keys’ Midtown Center.


52 years at FWB Church


For the past couple of weeks we have been talking with and about Tommy V. Lillard, Jr. of Bogard, an ardent Free Will Baptist, Tennessee Volunteer fan, and grandpa to many young ones. They are all clustered at the 140-acre family farm, none of which has been sold and transferred outside the family.

He does not brag about his accomplishments, so far as church, because I am sure he gives the praise to God. For about 52 years he’s been at FWB church and taught Sunday school for 50 years, served as a trustee and treasurer. Among the many rewards he counts as most important are the fellowship with Christians and “learning more about the Bible. It’s a road map to Heaven.”

He continues to be a deacon, loves singing in the choir, and has driven the church van for many years. He observed that some of the older women do not drive and he is happy to help them get to church.


Three score & ten


At 70, the Biblical age of the end of man’s physical life, Tommy remains an ardent UT sports fan and keeps score of his consecutive attendance: more than 342 home games since 1961. As a boy he played sports, especially baseball and also coached baseball in the early 1960s. He told me of the English Creek baseball team. They had a field on what is now the Freddy & Beth James farm. “It was located beside Bogard Road with a hillside for left field. I built a dugout and backstop. The field was a little rough because there were cow tracks in the ground,” said Tommy. Almost every weekend the fellows were on the field of their dreams just like the New York Yankees that they admired. “We would also play at other fields such as Parrottsville, Edwina, Bridgeport, Jones Cove, Cosby, and also Newport City Park. Some of the old timers would play with us such as Spot Bryant and Beecher McGaha.” Tommy shared the team1961 roster: Roger Bryant, Jerry Samples, James Frisbee, Tom Wines, William Lane, Kenny Hall, Roger Hall, Wilbur West, Neil Hall, Paul Bryant, Warren Bryant, Earl Bryant, Rickey Combs, Ronnie McGaha, and Tippy Williams. The scorekeeper was Pete Blask.

Likewise, his family is sports-oriented and that’s probably the topic of discussion as they rotate from family home to home each Sunday for lunch after church. The grandchildren participate in football, baseball, soccer, basketball, and cross country–the runner being Alexis Suggs, who also plays basketball. She is a sophomore at CCHS, and a cheerleader.



Takes a grandma too


You know Tommy’s wife, Carolyn, who has been an educator all her life, and she continues to teach as a substitute in her retirement years. Carolyn has been and is a teacher’s aide with special education children. Duay O’Neil featured her in the Plain Talk when she retired from Northwest School after the 2008-2009 school year after 30 years. She had been hired by principal Henry Gregory in Jan. 1980. It is no surprise that three of her children are teachers: Kim is a math teacher at CCHS; Julie and Steve Souder teach at NGS; and Lori is a grade-school teacher at Cosby Elementary. Carolyn also continues to make time for her favorite activity, outside of church and family, and that is baking. No doubt you have sampled her bakery goods and seen them at local county fairs. It’s been a pleasure getting reacquainted with the Lillards and to see how the family has grown in numbers during the past 40 years.


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