A Beautiful Wedding And A Wonderful Concert

By John J. Duncan Jr.


Weekend before last, Vickie and I had the privilege to attend a beautiful wedding on Friday night and a wonderful Knoxville Symphony Orchestra concert on Saturday night.

I have had the honor of performing more than 100 weddings – most while I was a judge, and several since then because I am still allowed to do so as a former judge.

I think I may be the only congressional candidate whose very first action on the campaign trail was to marry a young couple.

The first morning of my first campaign for Congress, I went to the Loudon County Courthouse to see Slim Schrimpsher, a very popular county official. He had just issued a marriage license to a couple.

He told them I was a judge, and they asked me to marry them. We stepped outside and had the ceremony at the front door of the courthouse. I hope they are still together.

All weddings, large or small, are very special, and I have attended very many. But the wedding of Anne McCall Stansberry and Reese Catron on Friday, April 5 was almost perfect.

Anne McCall is the daughter and only child of Jennifer and Judge Tony Stansberry. Jenny was the manager of my Knoxville Congressional Office for the entire 30 years I was in office.

No member of Congress ever had a kinder, more competent employee, and I along with the several thousand constituents she helped – in both big and little ways – owe her a debt that can never adequately be repaid.

The Stansberry-Catron wedding was held at The Quarry on Keller Bend Road. I had never been there, and I was amazed at the genius of the free enterprise system that could take an abandoned rock quarry and turn it into a majestic wedding site.

I have heard it said that a woman is most beautiful on her wedding day. I personally believe a woman is most beautiful, even without makeup, when she holds her newborn baby in her arms for the very first time.

But everything about this wedding was beautiful – the setting, the flowers, the music, the food, the bride’s mother and the most beautiful of all – the bride.

Reese Catron is a very lucky young man, and I think he knows it. He seemed to just glow with happiness. Anne McCall is kind, intelligent, and just outstanding in every way. This is a young couple with a great future.

I was most impressed by the words of the father of the bride, possibly since I have been in that role two times myself. Judge Tony said Anne McCall had been his “little angel for 25 years” and added that Reese was the kind of young man any father would want for his daughter.

It is always good to see a man and woman come together in love, and this was a wedding that everyone will remember for a long time to come.

On the next night, Vickie and I went to see the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s presentation of an Oscar and Hammerstein Celebration. It was wonderful.

They brought in three top singers from Broadway, all of whom had been stars in famous musical productions in New York and around the country. They all had beautiful voices.

Their renditions of songs like “Climb Every Mountain,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “Some Enchanted Evening” – all favorites of mine – were just great.

Their version of “Edelweiss” was beautiful and had special meaning for Vickie and me. She chose that as the song she walked down the aisle to at our wedding, and it was one of the songs I always sang to my children when I would walk them around at night when they were babies.

Also the conductor, Régulo Stabilito, was so into the music and moved around and led with so much enthusiasm that he added a lot to our enjoyment of the program.

I love music and have always found it very inspirational. One of the Capitol Hill newspapers used to occasionally ask biographical questions of congressional staffers, and sometimes they asked if they had to give up either television or music, which would it be? For me, it would definitely be television that I would give up.

I have many favorite songs, but I guess “The Impossible Dream” and “Climb Every Mountain” would be the top two. I don’t even understand the words in most of today’s newer songs, and probably because I am old now, most of the music I like would be classified as oldies.

Saturday night, Vickie said the audience looked like a cotton field because so many, including yours truly, had white hair.

But one man, with whom we go to church, brought his niece and her daughter and said they loved it. I believe many young people would love much of Broadway-type music if they were exposed to it.

My Dad had to overcome opposition to build the Coliseum-Auditorium when he was mayor of Knoxville. That auditorium has been a real asset to this entire area since 1962. We are also very fortunate to have the great Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.