Merry Christmas 2021

As has become a tradition around here, we present you with Tom Willhite as Santa Claus. DE Buff Groth is asking for gifts!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

Tom Willhite as Santa Claus at a Council Christmas party; 1980 Parnell Camp Director Buff Groth on his lap

On This Day, December 15

On this day–Wednesday, December 15, 1982–long time Scout Executive Bruce Atkins passed away. A graduate of Austin Peay, Atkins joined the ranks of the Middle Tennessee Council professional staff in 1960. He served two districts before promotion to Field Director in 1965. In 1966 he was promoted again to Assistant Council Executive and Director of Camping, serving at Reservation Director at Boxwell from the summer of ’66 through the summer of ’69. In 1970, he became Council Executive of the West Tennessee Council in Jackson, TN and in 1976, he became Council Executive of the Great Smoky Mountains Council. Atkins battled cancer early in his career and had surgery to remove it. The cancer returned by the early 1980s and was responsible for his death. Atkins was 48 years old.

Bruce Atkins, Wood Badge staff, 1967

On This Day, December 9

On This Day–Saturday, December 9, 1961–coal magnate and long time Scouting supporter Justin “Jet” Potter passed away. Born in 1898, he briefly attended Vanderbilt before serving in the First World War. He founded the Nashville Coal Company upon returning from the war and sold it in 1955 for $36 million, one of the largest sales for the area. He was involved in several other businesses and local civic organizations as well, including the Boy Scouts. Through his efforts the Nashville Council secured the Narrows of the Harpeth property. Later, Potter donated 4% of the $891,000 campaign for Old Hickory Boxwell. Services were held at Mt. Olivet Cemetery; pallbearers included both of Coach William J. Anderson’s son. His two two daughters continued to oversee the Potter Foundation, which contributed to several Scouting needs, including the development of a new Council Office as part of the 1972 Capital Development Campaign. Potter was just 63 years old at his passing.

Justin “Jet” Potter, from obituary article, _Nashville Banner_, December 9, 1961

On This Day, December 8

On this day–Monday, December 8, 2008–long time ranger Willie Dean Claud passed away. Claud had been a military man before retiring and joining the Boy Scouts. He was the first ranger at Grimes Canoe Base, basically running the program there out of his own home while the facility was built. He became ranger at Boxwell in 1982 and stayed on until 1995, making him the longest serving ranger in the Reservation’s history. Famous for his surplus shop as well as his lectures on tractors and diesel, Claud was an integral part of the Willhite era. He passed away at 78.

Ranger Willie
Ranger Willie Claud sitting on his back porch, early 1990s