2014 Inductees

6th Annual Dobyns-Bennett High School Alumni Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: October 23, 2014

CLASS OF 1932 

Dr. Albert Agett, Sr.
Al was born in Corning, NY on August 20, 1913 to Arthur and Hazel Agett; his father worked for Corning Glass. When Al was 9 years old, the family moved to Kingsport as his dad had accepted a promotion to work for Blue Ridge Glass. Al was always athletic and loved sports, especially football; he excelled in the game and made a name for himself. Nicknamed “Red” for his reddish hair, he was small at the time (weighing only 125 pounds) but he amazed everyone with his fast running, accurate passing and deadly kicking. He was talented not only in football, but track as well.

In his senior year (1931-32) at Kingsport High School, both University of Michigan and Michigan State University offered him athletic scholarships, but he chose to go to MSU. The local newspapers here, in East Lansing and Detroit were filled with his athletic feats on the football field. He earned a new nickname, “Agony Al” because of all the hard tackles that he dished out to his opponents. In 1936 he was named an All American, he played in the 1937 All-Star game as left halfback doing the kicking and passing and even briefly played for the Detroit Lions
He earned his PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from MSU in 1940 and in that same year Eastman Chemical Company offered him a position so the family moved to Kingsport. He worked there until 1963, at which point he accepted the position of  Director of Research and Development at American Saint-Gobain until his retirement to North Litchfield Beach, SC in 1975. 

Al had four children: George Andrew “Andy” Agett, Albert “Chip” H. Agett, Jr., and twin daughters Gail Elizabeth and Jamie Ruth Agett. His wife, Leota “Lee” Agett is enjoying retirement at Pawleys Island, SC.
He passed away on June 10, 1994, but left behind many accomplishments:

CLASS OF 1941 

John Robert Bell
John was born in Clinchco, VA and was raised in Kingsport. He attended Kingsport City Schools and was a graduate of Dobyns-Bennett High School, Georgia Tech and ETSU.  He participated in football, basketball, track and boxing.
He was enrolled at Georgia Tech in 1941 on a football scholarship and while there he participated in the Naval ROTC program.  Following a Sugar Bowl win in 1943, he and many of his teammates departed for military service in WW II.  In 1946 John returned to Georgia Tech.
He began coaching as a student assistant at Georgia Tech in 1947 and soon was recalled to Navy active duty until separation in August 1949.
He coached high school football in Cedartown and then Americus, GA.  In 1954, Coach Bobby Dodd gave John the freshman coaching and recruiting job at Georgia Tech with successes of several years of winning seasons and Bowl games.  In 1957, he accepted the head coaching position at the University of Southwestern Louisiana and then returned to Georgia Tech as varsity offensive line coach in 1959.  After the Yellow Jackets win over Texas Tech in 1965, John soon accepted the position of Athletic Director and Head Football Coach at ETSU.

In 1969, under Coach Bell’s direction, ETSU won the Grantland Rice Bowl. Their opponent was Louisiana Tech with famous quarterback Terry Bradshaw.  Louisiana Tech’s opponent in the Grantland Rice Bowl got little pre-game publicity. East Tennessee State University, the little school from Johnson City, TN, had its finest year in history under Coach John Robert Bell. The Buccaneers won the Ohio Valley Conference and went undefeated, posting a 10-0-1 record. Defensive Coach Buddy Bennett had quietly put together a monstrous defense at ETSU called Bennett's Bandits. The Bandits were led by Billy Casey and Al Guy. They combined for 20 interceptions on the year. The season record reflected a dominating defense and developing offense. The Buccaneers gave up only 93 points in 10 games in 1969. The defense picked off 34 passes on the season. The largest margin of victory was 30-0 over Tennessee Tech. A 10-10 tie with Murray State was the only blemish on the year.
John Robert Bell’s accomplishments are documented and info used above in Leroy Sprankle’s book, My Boys. Coach Bell was a leader and touched many lives with his work with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
He also was a vocational director and director of physical education for Sullivan County, served on the Johnson City School Board, and the local chapter of the National Football Foundation.  John was selected OVC Coach of the Year and NCAA District 4 National Coach of the Year in 1969 and inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and ETSU Athletic Hall of Fame as well as the NETN Sports Hall of Fame.
He was a member of Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church, where he served on the Board of Stewards and was a Sunday school teacher, lay speaker, MYF leader.  He also served on the board of directors of Haven of Mercy, and had directed the Shepherd’s Breakfast at Munsey Memorial UMC.
John was married to the late Anne Gunnells Bell and has three children, Nan Bell Larsen, Karen Bell Deakins and John Robert Bell, Jr. with their extended families and who all live in the Tri-Cities area.  
Coach Bell passed away December 25, 2008 and at his memorial service Bill Curry, former Head Football Coach at Georgia Tech, University of Alabama, the University of Kentucky and player for ten season with several NFL teams including the Green Bay Packers and the Baltimore Colts, told the overflow crowd at Munsey Memorial Methodist Church that the most influential coach on his life was John Robert Bell.

CLASS OF 1953 

C.B. "Boots" Duke
C. B. “Boots” Duke was born and raised in Kingsport. He graduated from Dobyns-Bennett in 1953. He then attended and graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1957 where he was on the varsity wrestling team.

In 1960, he joined Holston Glass Co. with his father. HGC grew from a local business to a multimillion dollar sales company that served the southeastern U.S. and beyond. Boots was President of HGC from 1967 through 1987 when he turned the company over to the employees through an ESOP; he was then the CEO and Chairman until his retirement in 2005.

In addition to his work at HGC, Boots was an investor and one of the founders of Bank of Tennessee in 1974; he remained an active director until his death.

His various activities and accomplishments included Jaycee President; Kingsport Man of The Year in 1967; he was appointed to the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Alderman, where he served for six (6) years (he was the youngest person to serve in that capacity at the time) and during his term he served as Vice Mayor of the City of Kingsport.
Mr. Duke was a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow; he was a Life Member of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce; he served as Chairman of the Kingsport Economic Development Board; he served as Chairman of  the Kingsport Convention and Visitors Bureau; he was a badge counselor for the Boy Scouts of America.

Boots Duke was an active student and athlete at Dobyns-Bennett. He was loyal to the happenings at D-B and active in them throughout his life. His involvement in fund-raising helped the Kingsport City Schools in all areas. Mr. Duke was a huge supporter of the Dobyns-Bennett Athletic Department; he was a larger donor monetarily and with his actions; he was instrumental in bringing Coach Buck Van Huss to Kingsport; he was very involved in the high school to college recruiting of D-B athletes; he was the face of D-B athletics through all media outlets, he was always- involved with all sports.

Boots and his wife, Betty Nelle, raised their three daughters, Connie, Laura and Cindy in the Kingsport City Schools system. Mr. Duke was a man of leadership and high values.


Dr. Thomas S. Kress
Dr. Kress was born in Kingsport on Dec. 5, 1933.  He is married to Dolores (Dee) McConnell also a native of Kingsport.  They are the parents of three children, Reid, Wendy and Tyler, and ten grandchildren.
Tom graduated from Dobyns-Bennett High School in 1951 and obtained his BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Engineering Science all from the University of Tennessee. He has had a distinguished career as a senior scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for 35 years.

At ORNL, Tom worked on all aspects of design and safety of various nuclear power types including LWR’s, LMFR, Molten Salt Reactors, Gas-Cooled Reactors and Research Reactors. He was Head of the Applied Systems Technology Section in charge of about 30 engineering and physics personnel. Tom was also manager of all the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) research at ORNL in the area of severe accident phenomena as well as Department of Energy (DOE) programs related to nuclear safety.  As part of his NRC work, he was a strong participant in all of their nuclear safety work including development of the fission product release and transport models that are in the MELCOR computer code which is currently NRC’s major model for predicting the development and consequences of nuclear power severe accidents (core meltdowns). 

Because of his expertise, it was Dr. Kress’ honor to be appointed as one of only twelve members of NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards.  He served a record (at that time) of sixteen years with two and a half of those as chairman.  At present time he continues to serve this committee in the capacity of Member at Large.

It was Dr. Kress’ honor to be chosen by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, as one of only two U.S. representative members of a group of 12 experts that were commissioned to meet with the Russian Scientists that were evaluating the Chernobyl Accident and to develop the definitive IAEA report on the accident.   He was responsible for determining the initiating event and the fission product behavior.

Tom has had distinguished service on many International and U.S. committees including the  DOE Waste Tank Issues Committee, the Severe Accident Advisory Committee for the Savannah River Laboratory, a USSR committee to evaluate the safety of all VVER reactors (the Chernobyl  type), and on two different “Group of Experts” for the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development/Committee for Safety of Nuclear Installation (OECD/CSNI).

In one particular IAEA committee along with an additional expert from Germany and England, Dr. Kress used his models for core meltdown and fission product release and transport as aerosols to develop a significant computer model that can be used to asses LWR severe accident behavior and consequences. Some additional notable achievements include:
Tom currently enjoys fly fishing for trout in the Smoky Mountains and playing on an over 80 Senior Olympic Basketball team where he holds Tennessee medals for individual awards in 3 point,
free throw, and an event called the ‘hot shot’.

CLASS OF 1950 

Bill J. Lee
He was born in Church Hill, Tennessee and grew up in upper East Tennessee.  After graduating from Indian Springs Elementary School, he attended Dobyns-Bennett High School and graduated in class of 1950.

At Dobyns-Bennett, he was active in several organizations and was a member of two athletic teams for three years.  He lettered in basketball and baseball and was All Conference in these two sports in his junior and senior years.  As a baseball player he holds a stolen base record (41) in 1950 which has yet to be broken.

In the four years after high school, Bill graduated from East Tennessee State College (now East Tennessee State University), worked at part-time jobs and married Mary Jane Kibler. Bill has three children – Barbara Lee Hackett, David W. Lee and Jennifer Lee Shaffer.

Bill served two years in the Army after college graduation, serving the last fifteen months at the Pentagon in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff – Intelligence.

During the next twenty-five years, Bill, his wife, and children moved from Kingsport to Dayton, Ohio and Memphis, Tennessee where he worked for several companies as an accountant, internal auditor, systems analyst and company treasurer and served on the Board of Directors.

It was at this time that he moved back to East Tennessee and began teaching at ETSU as an assistant professor. Five years later he began teaching at the University of Virginia's College at Wise (UVA-Wise) where he retired as an Associate Professor Emeritus.  During his time teaching at UVA he served as a consultant for seven organizations.

Honors and awards:
Dobyns-Bennett High School:  
East Tennessee State University:
  • Earned his MBA degree.

He was the Dobyns-Bennett Educational Foundation Treasurer and participated on the committee which raised money for the Field House and Alumni Hall. He also served as the Dobyns-Bennett High School Alumni Association’s President and continues on the Board of Directors.

  • He served as Chair, Department of Business and Economics
  • Served as Ombudsman for the UVA-Wise.  
Bill was invited and lectured in China at a university and at a bank.  He also received an invitation for select professors at the New York Stock Exchange which was led by the chairman of the Exchange and Senior Office.

CLASS OF 1963 

William Earl Lovelace
Earl was born in Kingsport on May 27, 1945. He attended Cedar Grove Elementary School through the eighth grade before his parents, Earl and Clara Lovelace, made the decision to move him into the Kingsport City Schools system. He attended Ross N. Robinson Middle School and Dobyns-Bennett High School.
At Dobyns-Bennett, he lettered in baseball, basketball and track, receiving All-Conference honors in each sport. Earl was selected to the All Upper East Tennessee baseball team and chosen as the Most Valuable Player in  the Region 1 and the TSSAA State Basketball Tournaments in 1963. He won the District 1 and Region 1 Long Jump competition his senior year. Earl participated in Student Council and attended the American Legion Boy's State while at D-B. He graduated in the class of 1963.
Earl received a scholarship to play basketball at the University of South Carolina where he earned three varsity letters and received his AB Degree in History. He earned his Master's Degrees from Western Carolina University in Educational Administration and Secondary Counseling.
He was employed as a teacher, basketball coach and administrator in four South Carolina school systems from 1967 through 2001. During his twelve years of coaching basketball at Irmo High School, he was twice named South Carolina Basketball Coach of the Year. He was hired as Principal at Northwestern High School in Rock Hill, South Carolina from 1983 to 1997. After spending one year overseeing the construction of a new school, he was hired as Principal at Summerville High School in 1998.
While working as an administrator in South Carolina, Earl served eight years as a member of the Executive Committee of the South Carolina High School League, the governing body for high school sports and interscholastic activities. He was President of the Executive Committee in 1995-1996 and President of the AAAA Conference in 1987-1988. Twice he was elected to serve as Representative from the Sixteenth District to the University of South Carolina Alumni Council.
On June 3, 2003, Earl was the first alumnus of Dobyns-Bennett High School to become her Principal. During his tenure the school was recognized by Newsweek Magazine for five consecutive years as one of the top high schools in the nation. Air Force Junior ROTC was added to the curriculum. The Advanced Placement Program added additional courses and all students were encouraged to attempt a more rigorous and relevant curriculum of studies. Renovations to the Vocational School were completed and that curriculum was enhanced. Artificial turf and a new sound system were added to  J. Fred Johnson Stadium. Construction on the Alumni Field House was completed. New facilities for Band, Orchestra and Art were added. Buildings with locker rooms and an in­door batting facility were built for baseball. A soccer facility with locker rooms and an in-door practice field with artificial turf was completed. The dressing rooms in the Buck Van Huss Dome were improved and expanded to accommodate more teams and athletes. All these improvements were necessary in order for the school to maintain its reputation as one of the finest in Tennessee and the nation. Quoting Lafe Cook, Band Director at Dobyns-Bennett High School, " Mr. Lovelace was the perfect leader at the perfect time. His handling of many difficult and controversial issues during his tenure made it clear to all that this administrator loved his alma mater and the Kingsport community ".
Earl is a member of First Presbyterian Church in Kingsport and has served as an Elder and Chairman of the Administration Committee. He is married to Barbara Huitt Lovelace of Charlotte, North Carolina. They have two daughters, Aimee Romosca and Marie Rasmussen,and four grandchildren: Abby, Cole, William and Connor.

Dobyns-Bennett high School Band Director 1926-1952

S.T. "Fess" Witt
In 1926, Professor S.T. “Fess” Witt came to Kingsport from Norton, VA. He was hired by Ross N. Robinson to organize Dobyns-Bennett’s first school band.
He devoted half of his time to the city concert band and half of his time to the high school band.

It was the first high school band in this part of the country.  “Fess” as he was known affectionately to his musicians at DBHS, established a tradition of musical excellence which as continued for over eighty years. He directed the band for over forty years. 

He had a vast amount of experience playing in several different kinds of bands.  Before movies had sound, he played with the theater bands.  He learned to play all of the instruments in the band including the violin.  His favorite instrument to play was the cornet.  He played and conducted a circus band, playing the cornet with his left hand and directing with his right hand.

“Fess” played for about one year for a dance band at the Old Chamberlin Hotel in Old Point Comfort, VA.  He also had a shipyard band at Newport News, VA before the World War I.  Later he was the director of the Newport News Naval Band.
His formal training and education included:  Student Under Kepler, formal training in music at Wilcox School of Music in Philadelphia, PA and the Vandercook School of Directing in Chicago, IL.
Under his direction for 26 years, the DBHS bands paraded down Broad Street creating excitement in the community for football games and other community events.  During World War II, they played to raise money for the war effort.  They gathered to play and send off to war many DBHS students.  His bands paraded in celebrations of the 4th of July, Armistice Day, Veteran’s Day, the Santa Claus parade and for celebrations in other towns in Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina.
From his obituary . . . . . “summarily a marching band under Fess Witt’s direction never hesitated - - even on a moment’s notice - - to call out the band for a downtown parade.  Evidence of the students’ affection for their maestro was the automobile given to him a few years ago at a ceremony during half-time at one of their football games.”  There is a Fess Witt street beside the old Dobyns-Bennett HS location.

He had a positive influence in the lives of hundreds of musicians who played for him during his tenure at Dobyns-Bennett High School.  Ask any former band member and they will tell you how much they loved and respected him.  It is without question S.T. “Fess” Witt belongs in Dobyns-Bennett’s Hall of Fame!
The first band, comprised of 45 students, consisted of 10 cornets, 12 clarinets, 5 trombones, 2 alto horns, 6 saxophones, 3 bass horns, 2 baritones, 2 drums, 2 fifes and one piccolo.  In today’s world, more than 25 percent of the school’s population participates in the band.