Dumas, Miller to be special guests for Alzheimers TN fundraiser
Two World War II veterans and Farragut residents will be among the honored guests during an upcoming, and very special, Alzheimer’s Tennessee fundraiser.
Henry “Hank” Miller and Alexander Dumas will be front and center during “An Evening at Historic Westwood with author Chris Edmonds” Tuesday, Sept. 21.
The entire event has a WWII theme, beginning with Edmonds’ personal story of discovery after he inherited the war-time diary of his dad, Master Sgt. Roddy Edmonds, only to find in the last days of the War a German officer aimed his pistol at his father, yet the master sergeant put his own safety aside to save the lives of 200 Jewish soldiers. Roddy Edmonds has since been posthumously honored for his heroism and bravery.
Those attending the event also will experience a WWII checkpoint, enjoy ’40s-era music, a strolling violinist, period-dressed military re-enactors and even an interlude of patriotic music performed by Knoxville Opera’s creative director Maestro Brian Salesky.
Tickets for the event are $125 for VIP Guests, who will receive a personally-autographed copy of Edmonds book, “No Surrender,” early access to the event and historic Westwood tours beginning at 5 p.m., along with two drink tickets and individual charcuterie nosh boxes.
Regular admission tickets are $75, with tours beginning at 6 p.m.
Once inside, guests will experience the energy of a Tennessee hero at gunpoint, view an extensive private collection of WWII war relics and see a 14-minute film, “Following in the Footsteps of My Father.”
The evening’s program will begin at 7:30 p.m.
Historic Westwood, 3425 Kingston Pike, is the former home, studio and current gallery of the late Adelia Armstrong Lutz.
Also during the evening, a painting by Alex, “The Great Panda of Asia,” will be auctioned in the east parlor, with proceeds going to Alzheimer’s Tennessee.
Hank, 94, moved to The Villages of Farragut retirement community earlier this year from Huntsville, Alabama, where he and his late wife, Judy, had lived since 1980 when he retired after nearly 40 years of U.S. military service.
Originally from Hermosa Beach, California, Hank enlisted in the Navy in 1944 and saw active duty in the Pacific theater.
He served on a destroyer for aircraft carriers and participated in “a couple” of raids on Tokyo Bay.
After the war, he remained in the Navy, stationed at Yokohama, Osaga and Nagasaki.
“The effects of the A Bomb on Nagasaki was not nearly as extensive as Hiroshima,” Hank recalled. “It was more hilly, whereas Hiroshima was flat.”
After returning home, Hank transferred to the Army.
“I liked the service, I just didn’t like the Navy,” he said with a smile. “I also knew if I wanted to get married and have a family, I didn’t want to be so far away. I’m very glad I did.”
He married Judy in 1952, just seven months after they first met in Fort Knox, Kentucky, and the couple spent nearly 30 years following his various Army assignments both stateside and abroad — including a stint in Saudi Arabia — while raising two daughters, Mary Maggie Bales and Alice Ann Miller, both of whom now live in Farragut.
After Judy passed away, Hank had plans to move to the area, but contracting COVID-19 in December sped up his time frame. After recuperating, he then needed heart valve replacement, a procedure he underwent at Parkwest Medical Center.
Several weeks of rehab followed before moving to The Villages in April, just after his 94th birthday.
He has enjoyed living closer to his daughters, and embraced life at the Villages, where he has been working to re-establish a physical morning regimen, which before COVID included 10 pushups and various other exercises.
“I have lived a clean life and led a good life,” said Hank, who also has four grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. “If I picked anytime outside my marriage to highlight, it would be the chance I had to grow up at the beach.
“That was wonderful, but post-marriage, I really enjoyed my different assignments, visiting and being assigned to different countries and the traveling my wife and I got to do.”
Alex, a well-known artist, has lived in the Farragut area since before the Town was incorporated, having moved here in 1960.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, he taught himself to paint and draw after serving as a hospital corpsman in the Navy at the tail-end of WWII, from 1945 to 1949.
He also served in the Tennessee State Guard for 16 years and retired as a major.
After working in several fields, Alex has been a full-time free-lance artist since the late 1960s.
While he began painting wildlife and still portraits, Alex has become regionally well-known for his poignant and realistic war-themed paintings, and has had several art shows.
Much of his work is now displayed in Farragut Museum.
“I don’t believe I’m responsible for the paintings,” Alex said in a previous farragutpress interview.
“The Good Lord had a big hand in it. I talked to Him the whole time I was painting them.”
Although he did not see combat, Alex saw patients return home with their injuries, and his wartime paintings are based on actual photographs from battles.
Additionally, he has branch-ed out over the years, offering paintings to help raise funds for various causes, including Zoo Knoxville and the CADES program at Concord United Methodist Church, where he attends.
For more information on the upcoming event, visit www.alzTennessee.org/nosurrender, or call 865-544-6288.