(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.
|Published: 11:25 PM, 10/25/2013
||Last updated: 11:25 PM, 10/25/2013
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
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
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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