Archive for April, 2019

Davene (Davis) Thomas

Friday, April 26th, 2019
On April 3, 2019, Davene Delories (Davis) Thomas, 77, a native of Knoxville, Tennessee and former resident of Paducah, Kentucky, departed her earthly home on Wednesday April 3, 2019 at Arlington Memorial Hospital in Arlington, Texas.  An only child, she was preceded in death by her parents Julialee & David R. Davis. she was a child piano prodigy, piano instructor, career music educator of 37 years, extraordinary soprano vocalist and organist.  While in high school, she became the first African American pianist to win the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra’s Piano Soloist Competition.  She won this prestigious award for two consecutive years. This recognition was further enhanced by providing her the distinct opportunity to perform as soloist with the full orchestra at the culmination of each piano competition.
After Davene professed Christ at age 16, she became a faithful member of Lennon-Seney United Methodist Church where she served as Minister of Music for four years. She became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. while at Knoxville College, where she received her B.S. degree in music in 1963.  In 1964, she relocated to Paducah, Kentucky where she began her career as a vocal music educator at Lincoln High School prior to the desegregation of the Paducah Independent School System.  She taught vocal music at several other Paducah Schools: Northside, Morgan, and Cooper-Whiteside Elementary Schools; Brazelton Junior High School, where she began “The Brazeltones” vocal performance group; and Paducah Tilghman High School. She retired from the Paducah Independent School System in 1989.
During her time in Paducah, she also continued her dedication to her service organization, Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., even serving as the Basileus of Paducah’s Beta Omega Omega Chapter.  Davene served tirelessly as an organist, pianist and soloist at Washington Street Missionary Baptist Church for nearly twenty years.  She also served as a Steward at St. John A.M.E. Church and as its organist prior to relocating to Knoxville to care for her beloved Mother.
Most assuredly, Davene left an indelible mark on this Earth.  She was honored with Paducah’s highest citizen’s award: Duchess of Paducah; and Kentucky’s highest citizen award: Kentucky Colonel.  After retiring in Kentucky, she was called to serve her hometown community and became recertified as an educator in Tennessee where she taught for another 10 years at her alma mater, Austin High School, which had since become Austin-East High School, a magnate school for the performing arts.  She returned to Lennon-Seney as its organist and director of music. For over fifty years, she taught an incredible number of children and adults to play piano.  As a devoted mother, she taught her daughter and her older grandson how to play the piano while at the same time instilling in them the importance of having an appreciation for the fine arts and classical music training.
 An accomplished woman who commanded respect from her students, Davene was the epitome of the word, lady.  She was always well-dressed and fashionably attired.  She was a fun and compassionate teacher—a role model and mother to thousands of students during her career as an educator extraordinaire. Having been graced by God, she was a walking miracle of the Lord after surviving and thriving following a life-threatening health crisis two years ago. God spared her to spend more time with her family and enjoy the blessing of life. She has transitioned according to God’s plan to join her dearly departed mother, father and maternal-grandmother in heavenly rest.
She is survived by her loving and devoted husband of twenty-three years, George I. Thomas; loving son, Dow Earnest Wilson, of Grand Prairie, Texas; loving and supportive daughter, Dawnita J. Grimes; her beloved son-in-law and kindred spirit, Anthony Grimes; and the pride and joy of her later years, her two grandsons, David and Matthew Grimes of Frisco, Texas.  She also leaves behind a brother-in-law, Bobby Thomas of Denver Colorado; a sister-in-law, Martha Nicholson of Nashville, Tennessee, and a host of nieces and nephews.
The Celebration of Life Service for Mrs. Thomas will be held on Saturday, May 4, 2019 on 11:00 a.m. in the William V. Powell, Jr. Memorial Chapel of Unity Mortuary, 1425 McCalla Avenue, Knoxville, Tennessee. Family visitation will precede the service beginning at 10:15a.m. Arrangements made with integrity by Unity Mortuary of Knoxville. Mrs. Thomas’s guestbook can be signed online at and

Kevin L. Burris

Monday, April 22nd, 2019

Kelvin L. Burris, of Knoxville, TN, went to join his heavenly Father on April 22, 2019 at the age of 58. He is preceded in death by his father, Herman Burris Sr., and three brothers: Charles, Kenneth, and Herman Jr. He is survived by his mother, Rosalee Burris; daughter, Kellye Lett; two granddaughters: Aliyah and Jazmine; sister, Emma Burris; brothers: Saleem (Shahidah) Sharif and Michael (Vicki) Burris; a host of beloved nieces, nephews, and extended family including McDonald’s and Denny’s coworkers. The remains of Mr. Burris will lie repose on Sunday, April 27, 2019 from 1-6 PM  in the William V. Powell, Jr. Memorial Chapel of Unity Mortuary. The family will receive friends on Monday April 29, 2019 from 11:00 AM to 11:30 AM  at the mortuary with the Celebration of Life Service to follow with Pastor Jesse Williams officiating. The final resting place will be at New Gray Cemetery following the service. A white dove release will conclude the services. The family would like to thank the Tennova Hospital staff for their wonderful help and care.

Pamela D. Cutwright

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Pamela Denise Cutwright, age 61, began her journey in Heaven on April 17, 2019. She is preceded in death by her mother and father, Roberta and George Crippen; and grandparents: Magnolia & Charlie Smith and Annabelle Crippen. She is survived by her daughter, Crystal Cutwright; son, Kevin Cutwright (Jennifer Harper); four grandchildren: Jalen, JaMichael, Ke’Asia and Kyrah; sister, Sharon Crippen; and a host of cousins and friends. The family will assemble at 214 Kirkwood Street, Knoxville, on Saturday, April 20, 2019. There will be no memorial services for Mrs. Cutwright at this time.

Edlin U. Vernon

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Edlin Vernon, 89, of Knoxville, departed this life peacefully on Sunday, April 7, 2019 at Beverly Park Place Health & Rehabilitation Center. Arrangements are forthcoming and will be announced later with integrity by UNITY MORTUARY.

Grace L. Arter

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

Grace L. Arter, age 83, passed away Sunday, April 7, 2019, at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, surrounded by her loving family. Mrs. Arter was a faithful member of Clayborn Temple AME Church and later joined New Beginnings Ministries, Inc., with her children and other family members, where she was affectionately known as “Mother” Arter. She was very dedicated to New Beginnings Ministries before her illness, where she loved singing, praying and especially loved the Women’s Ministry. At the last Women’s Ministry (4th Saturday in March), she did not want to miss, so she called in to the meeting and gave her part of the Women’s Ministry Assignment. She was long-time employee of the Knox County Clerk’s Office first stationed downtown in the old Knox County Courthouse and later moved to Knoxville Center Mall where she later retired.  She will always be remembered for her sweet, loving and humble spirit. She is preceded in death by her parents: Frances Love Bailey and Leonard Bailey, Sr.; brothers: David, Fred and Leonard Bailey, Jr.; and husband, Robert M. Arter. She is survived by her siblings: Frances Williams, Eddie Bailey and Joseph (Frances) Bailey; children: Gloria Colquitt (Wes), Laurie Hall, Cynthia Arter, Cheryl Arter-Shipe, Lisa Gamble (her loving caregiver with whom she lived), James (Karen) Arter and Ronald (Geraldine) Arter; brother-in-law, Larry (Barbara) Arter; family friend, Jerry Gaw; grandchildren: Renee’, Joe Nathan, Michael (Cristin) and Michelle Colquitt, Reginald and Antonio Stewart, Crystal Arter, Leondra Turman, Deon Arter, Xavier Gambel, Larry (Tiay) Shipe Jr., Kianna and Bryce Arter; ten great-grandchildren; many other relatives and friends too numerous to name. The family will receive friends on Saturday, April 13, 2019 from 12-1 PM in the William V. Powell, Jr. Memorial Chapel of Unity Mortuary, with the Celebration of Life Service to follow with Pastor Barbara Jackson as eulogist.


Vernisha M. Hampton

Thursday, April 4th, 2019

Vernisha M. “Nisha” Hampton, age 32, passed away suddenly on April 4, 2019 at her home. She was preceded in death by her mother and father, Hiram and Vernita (Hampton) Clark; grandmother: Betty Hampton; aunts, Wanda Simpson and Tangella Hampton; grandmother and grandfather-in-law: Evelyn and Herman Clark; uncle-in-law, Pee Wee Clark; great-aunt, Rena Mae; uncles, Paul and Claude Goss; and great-grandmother, Lilly M. Goss. She leaves to cherish her memories her children: Eddie and Eshauna Upton; father, Micheal Gay; brothers: Hiram (Brianna) Clark Jr., Markeeze (April) Clark and Maurice (Gina) Hampton Jr.; sister, LaToya (Miguel) Gonzalez; grandfather, Robert Hampton Sr.; uncles: Maurice Hampton Sr., Robert Hampton Jr., Kevin Dobson and Larry Coats; aunt, Sharon Manning; great-aunt, Glenny (John) Lee Mills and Mary Cozart; a host of other relatives and friends too numerous to name including special friends: Deidra Bennett and Wanda Holmes. The family would like to thank everyone for their acts of kindness and prayers. The family will receive friends on Friday, April 12, 2019 from 12-1 PM at Open Door Church, with the Celebration of Life Service to follow with Pastor Steve Simpson officiating. The final resting place will be at New Gray Cemetery following the service. A white dove release will conclude the services.