‘Best face for Farragut’

New award to be named in receptionist’s honor

  • Retiring Town receptionist Bettye Newby received a 20-year plaque for her service during her surprise retirement party Oct. 23. - Photos by Michelle Hollenhead

  • Retiring Town Receptionist Bettye Newby, right, is pictured with her son, Mark, center, and daughter-in-law, Carla, during her surprise retirement party Oct. 23 in Farragut Community Center. Newby also has two other sons, Mike and Martin, not pictured. - Photos by Michelle Hollenhead

  • Attending a surprise retirement party for Bettye Newby, center, were many Town officials and co-workers, including Betty Dick, left, one of the Town’s founders and current Farragut Municipal Planning Commission member, and Town media/tourism assistant Carisa Ownby, right. - Photos by Michelle Hollenhead

Bettye Newby, who as Town receptionist was first point of public contact in Town Hall during nearly half of Farragut’s existence, was treated to an elegant and heartfelt sendoff Friday, Oct. 23, as she decided to retire earlier this year.

Newby was surprised by family members, friends, current and past coworkers and Town officials in Farragut Community Center, and was unaware in advance of the celebration, despite the fact that her supervisor, Town Recorder Allison Myers, had been told, politely, not to plan any other surprise parties for her after a 70th birthday celebration 14 years ago.

“But we had to have a party for Bettye,” said Town administrator David Smoak

during the party, as Newby beamed happily from a nearby table.

Still spry and active at 84, Newby said she will “stay busy” in retirement, as she has 10 grandchildren and “six-and-a-half” great-grandchildren to occupy her time, among her activities.

Several officials honored Newby during a short program, including Myers, who shared some sweet “Bettye stories.”

Vice Mayor Louise Povlin said Newby was among Town staff who were “a big factor” in helping her decide to run for office.

“It was the incredible staff of the Town of Farragut; but most importantly, it was Bettye — I always thought you are the best face for Farragut,” Povlin said. “You have this gentleness, and when people (would) come in angry, you disarmed them.

“You are going to be so missed,” she added. “You have served our community so well, I don’t have words for it. I just really appreciate

you, and thank you, for always having the presence of mind to remain who you are in very challenging times.”

“We are going to miss you Bettye,” Town Mayor Ron

Williams said. “It has been great for us, for you to be here on a daily basis. You always have a smile, and something nice to say, when people come by.

“That has been our trademark, for this Town, and we are going to miss that.”

Smoak noted Newby began working for the Town in February 2001, and he met her when he was interviewing for his own position in 2009.

“She was basically interviewing me,” he recalled with a smile.

Smoak went on to announce a new award will be presented in Newby’s honor, fittingly called “The Newby Award.”

“As long as I am Town administrator, we will give it annually to somebody who epitomizes everything you do — your caring, kindness, honesty integrity, friendly service — all part of the mission of the Town of Farragut.

“We will give it in your honor, and to give you a great legacy here with the Town of Farragut.”

Smoak also presented her with a 20-year plaque/

award and an ink drawing of Town Hall, adorned with signed notes from co-workers and officials.

“We love you, and love you being part of our family,” Smoak added.

“Thank you all,” Newby replied. “When I typed my letter of resignation, I told (Smoak) it has been 20 of the happiest years of my life.

“You know how I love my family, but this family,” she added as she gestured around the room. “You are like my family also, I love my Town family.”

Then, placing her hands on her heart, she said, “You will always be right here.”

Gweneth Carrell has been hired as the new Town receptionist, confirmed Myers, who said, “It was really important to Bettye to be able to help train her.”