By Ralphine Major

Mike Graves, who played on Robert Dagley’s ‘64-65 Gibbs basketball team, graduated from Lincoln Memorial University with a degree in Education.  He has worked at Performance Food Group for the last 20 years.  His wife, Karen, worked in retail at J. C. Penney as a Furniture Specialist, as a merchandiser for Playtex, and now works part-time for Hamblen County School System as a substitute teacher.  It is interesting to note that Karen works most often at the school where Robert Dagley’s daughter teaches kindergarten.

Mike has been involved in coaching basketball, soccer, and softball for many years and continues to coach basketball.  Mike and Karen’s greatest accomplishments come through their children.  “We worked hard with our children academically and athletically,” Karen said.  “They both received free college educations based on academics and/or athletics, and the younger one got her master’s degree paid for due to academic achievement.  Both daughters continue to play sports year-round.  The love of the game and competition was certainly passed on to them!  “We coached soccer and fast pitch softball for several years and took our girls to the softball camps at Gibbs during Coach Dennis Ray’s time there,” Karen added.  “Basketball paid their way through college, although Gwen also played softball in college and Bridget also played volleyball and was an Academic All American at volleyball.”  I know this athletic talk about the children of his former player must bring a smile to the former Eagle’s coach!

Mike and Karen have three grandchildren.  Though livelihoods have taken them away from “home,” their roots still run deep and they maintain close ties to the Gibbs and Corryton Communities.  Karen’s grandfather, Rev. W. H. Leming, was appointed to the Corryton Methodist Episcopal Church’s Corryton Circuit from 1921-24 and to the Corryton Methodist Church’s Knoxville Circuit from 1947-50.  His last two occasions at Clapp’s Chapel United Methodist Church were officiating the baptism of his great-granddaughters:  Gwendolyn Marie Graves on August 13, 1972, and Bridget Michele Graves on December 14, 1975.  Rev. William Henry Leming passed away on April 13, 1977.  (This is No. 34 in the Eagles’ series.)