By Ralphine Major

It is the annual Gibbs Christmas Parade that many associate with the club’s activities.  But there is a long list of worthwhile projects that benefit from the Gibbs Ruritan Club’s hard work and generosity.  My family and I were honored to be guests at the Gibbs Ruritan Club’s 23rd Annual Community Dinner on May 23 at the Knoxville Grande Event Center.  I was amazed at the first-class buffet that awaited us as well as the turnout of three hundred plus!  This event raises money to help support a number of projects, and I was surprised to learn of the many areas in the community that the Gibbs Ruritan Club impacts.

The club owns and supports over forty acres at 7501 Petree Lane in Corryton that is home to the Spence Nicely Bird Sanctuary and hiking trail; there are also picnic tables and an amphitheater where an annual cookout is held on the Spence Nicely Home Place.  Spence was a local postal carrier, and I remember him as a faithful choir member and Sunday School teacher at Fairview Baptist Church.  Many Sunday mornings, he would bring flowers that he had grown for the church sanctuary.  Spence was a close friend of our father, and much of the shrubbery surrounding our home came from his property.  His wife, Dorothy, was a surgical nurse at the former East Tennessee Chest Disease Hospital where our mother worked.  The Nicelys are both deceased.

Long-time club member Red Clapp mentioned several accomplishments of the club including the purchase of the first Gibbs High School Band uniforms.  I wore one of those uniforms—even had a studio picture made in it.  The band used them for years.  Monetary support is also provided for the Gibbs baseball project, Gibbs softball team, Gibbs Band, and missions in Africa.  The club provides four or five $1,000 scholarships to Gibbs High students for advanced education and supports new playground equipment for Gibbs Elementary.  Other accomplishments include food baskets to less fortunate families at Thanksgiving, three family Christmas baskets and Christmas gifts for entire families, Angel Tree gifts for

Gibbs students, and benevolence funding for families in need with extenuating circumstances.  The club also hosts bi-annual pancake breakfasts at Texas Roadhouse and is in partnership with Troop 500 Boy Scouts for property maintenance, scouting events, and camping locations.

The Gibbs Ruritan Club’s community service building at 7827 Tazewell Pike is used for large gatherings.  It is the site of the club’s meetings on the first Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m.  The 52-member club welcomes new members.  Lynn Hill is President, and Eddie Jones is Vice President.  Mark your calendar to buy a ticket for next year’s dinner.  It is sure to be another evening of great food, fun, and fellowship—and the proceeds will go to support some great community causes!  For more information, visit or e-mail Eddie Jones at