(Part 7 in series on Dwight Kessel)
By Ralphine Major
Dwight Kessel’s father-in-law, Dr. Edgar L. Grubb, bought Chapman Drug Company from the estate of Col. David Chapman in 1946. (Col. Chapman was in the forefront of establishing the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, and Chapman Highway was named in his honor.)
“In 1956, my father-in-law asked me to come to work at Chapman Drug Company,” Kessel said. “They needed someone in the business to handle storage layout and shipping procedure for expansion, and I also did some product buying for the company.”
Dr. Grubb died in 1962 of a massive heart attack, and he left control of Chapman Drug Company with four trustees.
“They immediately fired me because they did not want any of the family in the business,” Kessel said.
After his firing, Kessel kept busy with the development of Heather Heights in Karns and managing his rental properties and the two farms that belonged to Magnolia Enterprises. One of those farms was 90 acres in Corryton. Later when Kessel was county executive, he and Gloria represented Magnolia Enterprises and made a donation at the opening of a Knox County Library Branch in the name of her grandparents, William and Lundy Grubb, who were lifelong residents of Corryton.
When the trustees of Chapman Drug got ready to sell control of the business, they refused to sell to the family. Thus, they violated the terms of the will. After legal proceedings, Kessel and his brother-in-law bought the stock and took control of Chapman Drug. They sold the business in 1992. Kessel has been involved in numerous businesses through the years including real estate and consulting.
After being fired from Chapman in 1963, Wallace Dwight Kessel was elected city councilman. The 1962 annexation of Holston Hills and Fountain City prompted several of Kessel’s friends to encourage him to run for Knoxville City Council. Three years into the term, there was talk of problems in the Knox County Court Clerk’s office. Again, friends encouraged Kessel to run for that office. He did, and he won. The West Virginia native was making a name for himself in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Words of Faith: “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust.” Psalm 18:2 (KJV)