2015 Alumni Hall of Fame Biographies
Curt Chaffin, M. D.
This Mr. CHS once spent his time as a four sport athlete (soccer, basketball, track, and cross country) and honor student and now can be found treating patients and taking part in medical missions work. From the Class of 1988, Dr. Curt Chaffin is a physician who specializes in allergy and asthma.
Dr. Chaffin fully immersed himself in the life of a Raider. He was an academic, earning spots as a Raider Scholar, National Honor Society, National Merit Semifinalist, and the Ratterman Scholarship, as well as serving on the Student Government Senate and Model United Nations. This Eagle Scout went to Boys State, was involved with Key Club and FCA, and won Most School Spirit.
CHS soccer was started as a sanctioned sport during Dr. Chaffin’s tenure at Cleveland and he remembers winning the state championship that year as his greatest memory from high school, stating that he is quite thankful to have been a participant on that great ride. As for the greatest impact of Cleveland High School on his life, Dr. Chaffin believes that it is “not the activities, athletics, or even the scholastics that stay with me most, but the teachers, mentors, and friends who helped mold me. We at CHS were blessed with folks around us to teach, guide, and inspire us.”
Dr. Chaffin holds a BS from Tennessee Technological University in Mechanical Engineering and he graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis. Dr. Chaffin completed a Pediatric Residency prior to his work as a General Pediatrician and an Allergy and Immunology Fellowship. He currently works as an Allergist/Immunologist at The Allergy and Asthma Group. He has completed medical mission work in Haiti, Nicaragua, Yucatan, Papua New Guinea, and St. Lucia. Dr. Chaffin has been married fifteen years (and counting) and is the father of a 5 year old and a 7 year old.
Rev. Dr. Nina Thomas Elliott
Reverend Doctor Nina Elliott graduated from Cleveland High School in 1967. Holding the distinction as the first female black honors student and the first black student to graduate from CHS, Rev. Dr. Elliott has enjoyed a very successful career in the fields of psychology and education, retiring as Associate Provost of Academic Affairs at UTK.
Rev. Dr. Elliott was a member of the Future Nurses Club as well as serving as practice pianist for the chorus during her senior year at Cleveland High School. As a student at College Hill High School in her first three years of high school, she played a very active role in athletics as a girls basketball player and cheerleader.
Although she only attended Cleveland High School for one year, it had a tremendous impact on her future, as Rev. Dr. Elliott credits her time at CHS as the place she discovered her interest in the field of Social Science, especially the area of psychology, through the classes of Mrs. Peggy Pesterfield. Although her senior year was a stressful and sometimes painful experience, Rev. Dr. Elliott believes that her time as a Raider increased her desire to learn and excel in school, ending her senior year with straight A’s.
After obtaining a BA in Psychology in 3 ½ years and an M.A. in counseling and testing one year later, Rev. Dr. Elliott eventually added a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. She maintained a career as an administrator in higher education and an educational and sports psychologist. Rev. Dr. Elliott developed and ran three university programs and, during her tenure at UTK, was responsible for the Academic Affairs Personal Program. She is a licensed minister and earned a Doctorate of Theology online in 2013 after car accidents rendered her disabled eleven years ago. Rev. Dr. Elliott is the mother of Keith Jr. and Christina.
Dianna Lovelace Johnson
Mrs. Dianna Johnson, Class of 1973, is well-known to the Cleveland City Schools community. Mrs. Johnson has thirty-eight years of teaching experience, all in the Cleveland City Schools. She serves today as a language arts teacher at Cleveland Middle School.
During her high school years, Mrs. Johnson was a 3 year member of the “C” Club, Vice-President of the Freshman Class, and a junior representative on the Homecoming Court. She wore the blue jersey for four years as a member of the Lady Raiders basketball team and was named co-captain her senior year. Her basketball talent brought her many honors including being named to All-County, All-District, All-Region, and All-Tri-State teams.
It was through her involvement with basketball that Mrs. Johnson believes she gained the greatest life lessons at CHS. She learned from Coach Kidwell and Coach Coates the importance of getting along with teammates and sacrificing everything for the good of the team. The dedication, hard work, and discipline gained from basketball are the reasons Mrs. Johnson feels she has been successful professionally. She also credits Sylvia Coates and her love for literature and excellence in teaching as her own inspiration to become an English teacher.
Prior to her 1977 graduation from Tennessee Technological University, Mrs. Johnson played on the first girls’ basketball team at Cleveland State and they finished 7th in the nation. She has enjoyed a very successful teaching career, earning many distinctions and honors such as Outstanding Young Educator Finalist, Cleveland Middle School Teacher of the Year, Middle School Level Teacher of the Year, and, most recently, the Lillie Frank Fitzgerald Award in 2014.
Marc A. Morris
Mr. Marc Morris is a member of the Blue Raider Class of 1980. Mr. Morris is a long way from his position as band captain in 1980, accepting the 1st place award at the Orange Bowl. He currently resides in Manila, Philippines, where he serves as the Founder and President of Samaritan’s Place.
Mr. Morris was actively involved in the band and jazz band and many of his greatest memories center around band. He was also a member of the baseball team and National Honor Society. Mr. Morris spent some time in the Little Theater where he enjoyed a part in the spring musical, “Fiddler on the Roof”.
Cleveland High School played a key role in establishing the leadership view and work ethic that Mr. Morris still relies on today. His service as band captain under Mr. Higgins, Ron Peace, and Eddie Freytag made an impact on his service as a leader. “I learned that leadership is about 1% on stage and 99% off stage. It takes a lot of hard work behind the scenes to produce a few minutes of quality that others see. Further, I learned that it is the small things done every day that will build up to something special in the end,” Mr. Morris states.
Student Body President of Lee College in ’83-’84, Mr. Morris graduated with a B.A. in Psychology in 1984. He obtained his Masters of Divinity from PTS in 1987 and has served in Asia since that time. Mr. Morris has facilitated thousands of short-term volunteers throughout his service there. He founded the Bigay Buhay Medical Mission and Samaritan’s Inc, an organization that cares for orphans and helps children be adopted into loving families. Mr. Morris is the Vice President of the Association of Child Caring Agencies of the Philippines and speaks frequently at conferences. He also serves as the Superintendent of the Church of God Austral Asia region and as the WEAC Asia Director. Mr. Morris is married to Maria and they are the parents of Christopher and Michelle. Mr. Morris’s father, Max Morris, will be receiving this award on his behalf.
From the Class of 1975, our next Hall of Fame inductee is Mr. DeWayne Morrow! Mr. Morrow doesn’t spend his Friday nights under the lights on Raider Field anymore, but he is still representing the Blue as City President of SouthEast Bank.
Mr. Morrow was a member of the Interact Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He was a Blue Raider Band member for two years. Mr. Morrow’s greatest memory from high school is being one of a few players who had the opportunity to play for Coach Bill Talley in both football and baseball for all four years of high school. His team also held the distinction of playing in the first ever Cleveland-Bradley freshman football game, a game in which the Blue Raiders were victorious 24-6.
For Mr. Morrow, the greatest impact Cleveland High School had on him was not on a scoreboard or even anything he could put on a resume, but rather the teachers in the business department. Mrs. Bunch, Mrs. Warren, and Mrs. Wattenbarger taught him all of the basic skills and tools that he uses almost daily, forty years later, from typing to balancing a checkbook to understanding an income statement.
Since graduation, Mr. Morrow graduated from Cleveland State Community College with an A.S. degree in General Business, from East Tennessee State University with a B.S. in Business Administration, and from the Tennessee School of Banking. He started his banking career as a teller in 1982 at The Bank/First Citizens Bank and has continued that career for the past 33 years. Most recently, he was named City President for SouthEast Bank here in Cleveland.
Mr. John Owens is our Hall of Fame Inductee who represents the Cleveland High School Class of 1986. Once a state ranked wrestler who currently serves our community as a highly respected local veterinarian, Mr. Owens exemplifies Raider pride.
Mr. Owens was a highly decorated athlete at Cleveland High School. He had a very successful wrestling career, earning second place in the state wrestling tournament. In addition to his wrestling accolades, Mr. Owens also played football and ran track.
Mr. Owens’s most treasured memory from high school is the state wrestling tournament in which he earned a second place finish. He believes that the greatest impact his time at Cleveland High School had on his life is that it is where he first learned how to compete, a skill that has served him well in his future.
Mr. Owens went on to graduate from Auburn University in seven years as a veterinarian. He owns and practices in his own clinic in this local community. He says that one of his greatest accomplishments since graduation was in teaching his children how to compete for their futures, a lesson that he learned in the halls and on the mats of this building.
Our next CHS Hall of Fame inductee holds a football state championship ring! A member of the Class of 1971, Mr. Scott Taylor is now the Chairman and CEO of Bank of Cleveland.
Mr. Taylor was an active student during his time at Cleveland High School. He played on the varsity football team, including the 1968 State Championship team. Being a member (NOT player, he notes wryly) of the 1968 State Champion football team is his favorite memory from high school. As a sophomore, he had the important job of holding the tackling dummies at each practice session during that fun year. He was also a member of the CHS Golf team.
Two CHS English teachers are responsible for what Mr. Taylor considers the greatest impact of high school. Larry Bivens and Sylvia Coates taught him the skills that he uses daily in his banking career, skills such as writing press releases, shareholder letters, and letters to regulators. He also pays tribute to Martha Wattenbarger for introducing him to accounting.
Mr. Taylor has played many important roles in our local community since his graduation from Cleveland High. He was the vice chairman of the Cleveland/Bradley County Industrial Redevelopment Board and served as the chairman of the City of Cleveland Charter Study Committee that established Cleveland’s present form of government. He is involved with service organizations and is currently the Chairman and CEO of Bank of Cleveland. Mr. Taylor is married to Sharon and they have two sons, both CHS graduates, Clint and Clarke. Clarke Taylor is here to accept on behalf of his father.
Once a CHS Model United Nations delegate, today a Boston Globe reporter, our inductee from the Class of 1998 is Mr. Matt Viser. Mr. Viser represents Cleveland High School honorably in the world of journalism.
Mr. Viser gained a foundation for his future career through his high school involvement with student government, Model UN, National Honor Society, and Boys State. He also participated In the CHS choirs, Renaissance show choir, and even played basketball his freshman year.
The many exciting trips of high school provided Mr. Viser with his greatest memories. From Atlanta and Disney World for choir to Chicago and Philadelphia for Model UN, Nashville for the state basketball championship, away football games where he and his friends geared up for the big games by playing nearby putt-putt courses before watching the better athletes on the girdiron, Mr. Viser enjoyed traveling with friends and classmates, capping it all with a senior year trip to Europe. Mr. Viser believes that his years spent at Cleveland High School provided the foundation and the skills to do anything, anywhere.
After graduation from CHS, Mr. Viser followed with degrees in music and journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He began his career in Boston at the Boston Globe with a first story on what he calls “the weighty topic of a strawberry festival in the suburbs”. He covered the 2012 presidential election, closely following Republican nominee Mitt Romney, and was named by Politico as one of the “10 breakout reporters of 2012”. Mr. Viser has earned many honors and awards including being named a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in 2013 and was part of a team that won the Everett Dirksen Award for Distinguished Reporting of Congress. The latter was in recognition of “Broken City”, a series on partisan gridlock in Washington. Mr. Viser has reported from South Korea to South Carolina and everywhere in between, has interviewed governors, senators, and cabinet secretaries, and has written about topics ranging from a gallery dedicated to the losers of presidential elections to the coffee served at the White House. However, no matter how many career accomplishments in his name, Mr. Viser believes his biggest is being a husband to Anne and the father of nearly five year old twins, Benjamin and Abigail.
Lloyd Glen Ware
We are proud to honor Mr. Lloyd G. Ware, member of the class of 1977, as our next Hall of Fame inductee. Mr. Ware drew from his educational experience at Cleveland High School to become a master educator in the private and public sector for the past thirty years. He is currently a public school teacher and coach in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Mr. Ware was a very involved student in his time at Cleveland High School. He participated in the speech and drama clubs and the art club. His athletic career was illustrious as he was a member of the basketball team, football team, and track team. He was very active with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, earning the honor of being named the first FCA Athlete of the Year in the tri-state area. He was a member of the student council and professes a special love and admiration of the Cleveland High Band.
Victories over Bradley High School in football, track, and basketball his senior year figure prominently in Mr. Ware’s greatest memories from high school. He also holds the distinction and memory of having gone to state championships in three sports. He believes that his time at CHS, especially his membership in FCA, plus his coaches, friends, and dedicated teachers have all influenced his life to this day. Mr. Ware proves the adage, “Once a Raider, Always a Raider”, stating that “everyone in Tulsa knows which alma mater is mine”.
A recipient of President George W. Bush’s “100 Points of Light Award”, Mr. Ware is a highly awarded educator and coach. He earned six state championships at Tulsa public schools, was named Conference Coach of the Year thirteen times, State Coach of the Year three times, and Teacher of the Year five times. He is active in volunteerism and prides himself in serving as faculty sponsor of the fastest growing FCA chapter in Oklahoma.