Emary B. "Jitney" Blankenbecler, Jitney as he was affectionately known, was born in Coeburn, Virginia
and moved to Kingsport when he was very young.
He excelled in academics and athletics while a student at Kingsport High School
(now Dobyns-Bennett High School) from 1921-1926. He was the president and valedictorian of the Class of 1926.
Jitney was the first Eagle Scout
in Kingsport in 1920 and his scout masters were Allen Dryden, Sr. and S.K. Lindsay, who influenced his life profoundly.
He was a veteran of World War II
and served as commander of the American Legion
, receiving the American Legion Distinguished Service Award.
He became a popular figure in the community and was elected mayor of the City of Kingsport
from 1949 to 1951. Jitney was also a part of the Santa Train
for more than 50 years.
The student council members elected him as grand marshall of the Dobyns-Bennett Homecoming Parade in 1989 because he was known as the "Ambassador of Downtown Kingsport". He gave to his community, not only in his early life, but throughout his life.
Emary B. "Jitney" Blankenbecler passed away at home at the age of 92 in September 1998.
CLASS OF 1940
Robert Gale "Bobby" Cifers
Stanley M. Johnson was an outstanding high school basketball player while at Dobyns-Bennett. In 1955 he and his close friend, Colonel Brue Wilder became members of the Dell Sports Magazine
Coaches and Sports Writers American All-Stars Team.
In 1960 Stanley graduated from East Tennessee State Univeristy
with a degree in English. He then attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
and received a masters degree in Church Music and a masters in Religious Education. During his studies at Southwestern he served two churches as a part-time music director and youth leader.
Any time he saw a need, he responded. This became a pattern of Stanley's life. He taught music lessons without ever accepting payment for the service. He offered his time to pick up children after school and transport them to church where he taught many of them to play guitar, clarinet and in addition, taught voice lessons. To enhance the music lessons provided he made arrangements with a piano/organ teacher to come to the church to teach students after school, increasing the opportunity for more children to learn music.
He worked diligently to find part-time jobs for young people, especially disadvantaged ones. His family knew that almost every holiday celebration would have to start late or end early because Stanley was delivering food and toys to needy families in the community. He never left a duty to someone else; that was who Stanley was.
Stanley passed away in November 1997.
Cecil Puckett graduated from Dobyns-Bennett in 1947. There is a very rare 16 mm of the Dobyns-Bennett/Knoxville High School football game on YouTube
from October 26, 1945
with Cecil Puckett playing his heart out.
Harry Wright, Class of 1949 said in an interview, "On the faith of Georgia Tech
football, that Cecil and Bobby Cifers
were two of my heroes." He continued, "Cecil was probably the best all-around athlete to come out of D-B; just a super guy in every way. I'd go out of my way to meet him in the hall anytime so I could just to say, 'Hi Cece.'"
Cecil graduated with a bachelors and a medical degree from the University of Mississippi
. After college he went on to receive many accolades from his peers. For two years Cecil was assistant football, baseball and basketball coach at Tennessee High School
. At Dobyns-Bennett he was a health and physical education teacher for seven years. Cecil served for 14 years at Robinson Middle School
as assistant principal and activities director and two years as assistant principal at Sevier Middle School
In 1983, Cecil received the Kingsport Times-News
Award for "Distinguished Service to Others and to the Community." In 1985 he received the Outstanding Educator Award which is presented by the Superintendent of Schools and Board of Education. Also in 1985 the Mayor of Kingsport proclaimed October 18 as Cecil Puckett Day!