2017 ALUMNI HALL OF FAME BIOGRAPHIES

DANNY ABSHIRE

This Most School Spirit Superlative winner who once spent his time as a three sport athlete (football, basketball, and track) and honor student can now be found with his work being highlighted in national running magazines. From the Class of 1975, Mr. Danny Abshire is an author and co-founder and Chief Technical Officer of Active Imprints Custom Orthotics.

Mr. Abshire fully immersed himself in the life of a Raider. He was a member of academic organizations such as Beta Club, athletic organizations such as FCA, and social organizations such as the “C” Club.

Today, Mr. Abshire is the author of Natural Running, published in 2010. He obtained his first patent for Newton Running Shoe in 1996 and his company enjoys tremendous success. Mr. Abshire is also a guest speaker for running clinics throughout the world.

Mr. Abshire’s company is a community-minded organization. Each year, the employees of Mr. Abshire have over 1600 hours in community service as well as organizing running events for a number of charities such as Breast Cancer.org, Trickle-Up (helps women in Lachus Guatemala overcome extreme poverty and transform their lives and communites), and One World Running. Mr. Abshire leads his company in various philanthropic activities and he leads by example. They have donated over 6,000 pairs of shoes. The passion of Mr. Abshire is for others to enjoy running as deeply and personally as he does. He states, “There’s just something about running that sets you free and takes you away from your worries.” 

ALISA WHITE

Dr. Alisa White graduated from Cleveland High School in 1977. This former distinguished Blue Raider now returns to us from Clarksville, TN, as the President of Austin Peay State University.

Dr. White was an active student in her time at Cleveland High School. She served on the Lance staff as well as worked in the library. She was a member of the Cleveland High Drama Club. Dr. White’s greatest memory from high school is one that proved valuable to her higher education. Through her French classes at CHS from Mrs. Peggy Pesterfield, Dr. White was able to CLEP out of 12 hours of French in college.

It is the influence of teachers who left the greatest impact on Dr. White. The previously mentioned Peggy Pesterfield, Maxine Hughes, Doris Hixson, Betsy Vines, Mary Jane Lewis, and Edith Rogers believed in her and challenged her to meet her full potential.

After obtaining her undergraduate and master’s degrees, Dr. White earned a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She maintained a career of thirty years in higher education, eventually rising to the rank of University President, a position she holds today at Austin Peay State University. Dr. White has done a tandem parachute jump with the Golden Knights and at one time threw out the first pitch in the Washington Nationals Major League baseball game. She is also an ordained minister.

CHRIS LEGGETT

We are proud to honor Mr. Chris Leggett, member of the class of 1987, as our next Hall of Fame inductee. Mr. Leggett served his community well as a business owner and servant leader in the years following his graduation from Cleveland High School.

A member of various CHS organizations including FCA, Spanish Club, and Honor Group, Mr. Leggett also served as the statistics keeper for the basketball team and played on the CHS Tennis Team.

Mr. Leggett was a friendly and outgoing person with a deep and strong faith. He had a contagious smile, and he treated everyone with equality. He was a member at First Baptist Church of Cleveland and was very involved with the youth program there. At the age of 16, Mr. Leggett went to Mexico with a group from his church. It was during that trip that his worldview was challenged and his life was forever changed.

Mr. Leggett received an Associate’s degree from Cleveland State and his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He managed his father’s lollipop manufacturing company, then went on to open the Fastenal franchise in Cleveland. In 1993, Mr. Leggett married his wife, Jackie, and they had four children, Hannah, Jordan, Haley, and Erin. In 2002, Mr. Leggett and his family moved to Mauritania, a country in North Africa, where Mr. Leggett became director of a non-governmental organization doing relief and development. He helped provide job training, micro loans, business training, and much more to people in every sphere of society in Mauritania. He also worked in the prisons there, reaching people who were forgotten by others. He was always looking to give people a hand up in life, empowering them to improve their lives by giving them a pathway to be self-sufficient as well as physically and spiritually whole. Mr. Leggett knew the dangers of the area in which he had chosen to live, but he boldly persevered out of his faith and compassion for those in need.

In 2009, Mr. Leggett was gunned down by three members of Al-Qaida. Mr. Leggett’s reputation as a godly man in North Africa has only increased since his death. The impact he left and the lives that were changed are still being multiplied as his legacy continues—a legacy no evil or extremism will ever be able to conquer. Mr. Leggett passed away in 2009, but he will always be remembered as a True Blue Raider. 

DEBBIE BURNETTE

Ms. Deborah Burnette is our Hall of Fame Inductee who represents the Class of 1969. Once a yearbook staff member, currently a consultant for Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), Ms. Burnette retired as a Captain in the US Navy.

Ms. Burnette was active in the Cleveland High School marching and concert bands, drama club, yearbook staff, and Beta Club. Her greatest memory from high school was being part of the historic walk from Arnold School to the newly established Cleveland High School to open the doors of the school. She also has fond memories of winning numerous band competitions, football, and basketball games and championships.

The value of friends to help you through the tough times and share in the good times is one of the most valuable parts of high school, Ms. Burnette believes. She also credits her time at Cleveland High School with teaching her to think for herself instead of following the pack or caving to majority opinion.

After graduating from CHS in 1969, Ms. Burnette served 24 years as an officer in the United States Navy. She retired as a captain, then began a second career in public health with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). She also raised 3 fabulous children, all of whom are decent and kind young adults. 

DEBBIE MELTON

From the Class of 1980, our next Hall of Fame inductee is Ms. Debbie Melton! Ms. Melton is very well-known to most of our area, as she is an automotive dealer at Don Ledford Automotive and a friend of Cleveland High School.

Ms. Melton spent her high school years on the field with the marching band, on the stage with the drama club, and participating in activities with the Anchor Club. Her wonderful friends gained during her time at CHS are her greatest memory, as well as her senior year when CHS Band Director Crill Higgins entered the 350 member marching band in the Orange Bowl competition in Miami, Florida. During the competition, she thought to herself that would be her one and only time to march on that orange logo with that wonderful band. They won first place in that competition where her mom was a chaperone, which made it extra special to get to share it with her mom.

As for the greatest impact CHS had on her life, Ms. Melton believes that the people God gives you in each season are the most important. Her teachers and mentors at CHS taught her to never give up.

In the years since leaving CHS, Ms. Melton graduated from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. In Cleveland, she has served as President of the Bradley-Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, on the Board of Directors of Diaper Love of Bradley County, Salvation Army, and as a former board member of the Museum Center @ 5 Points. Ms. Melton has chaired various community organizations, received Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Kiwanis Club, and won Empowering Woman of the Year for Bradley County in 2011. In 2012, she was awarded the Chamber’s annual Mel Bidwell Small Business Person of the Year Award. Under Ms. Melton’s leadership, Don Ledford Automotive Center received the 2016 Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics from the Better Business Bureau of Southeast TN and NW Georgia. In March of 2017, she received the Community First Ward in Business from Cleveland State. She is actively involved in her industry on the local, state, and national levels. Nationally, she was one of four women elected to the Women’s Dealer Advisory Council. 

DEBBIE MURRAY

Our next Hall of Fame Inductee is Dr. Debbie Bilbo Murray, Class of 1971. Today Dr. Murray is employed in our local community as the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Lee University, a career for which she prepared through many CHS organizations.

A recipient of many superlatives and honors during her high school career including Homecoming Queen, Junior Miss Contestant, and Senior Honor Graduate, this Miss CHS also found time to participate in the Marching and Concert Bands of Cleveland High School. She was also a member of the Beta Club, National Honor Society, Student Council, and Tri-Hi-Y.

As for her greatest memory of high school, Dr. Murray fondly remembers band trips to the Friday night football games. She feels that her closest friendships grew on those trips and she developed understanding of the need for personal discipline. In addition, she experienced the incredible mentoring and leadership of CHS legendary band director, Mr. Crill Higgins. Dr. Murray sees the greatest impact of high school as the one made in the classroom. She got to sit under first class teachers who inspired her to learn all she could and to do her best. She studied alongside brilliant classmates who motivated her to work hard and to compete. Her competitive spirit was born in the classrooms and hallways and fields of Cleveland High School.

Dr. Murray earned a degree in Mathematics from Lee College as well as a Master’s degree in Special Education and Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. She taught in the Bradley County School system as a consulting resource teacher before joining the Lee faculty. In her time as a Lee University faculty member, Dr. Murray was the founding Dean of the Helen DeVos College of Education, served as department chair, graduate program director, and Director of the Teacher Education Program. Dr. Murray has had many honors at Lee, including Distinguished Professor of Education, Delta Zeta Tau Alumnus of the Year, Alumnus of the Year for the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Kappa Delta Pi Distinguished Educator Award, Excellence in Advising Award, and Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society. Dr. Murray also established LUDIC, the Lee University Developmental Inclusion Classroom, which is a school for children on the Autism Spectrum. Dr. Murray’s greatest accomplishments, however, cannot be found on her resume. Her greatest accomplishments are marrying Danny Murray and raising their wonderful children, Kristen Grisham, Lauren Garner, Morgan Mizer, and Britt Murray, all of whom are graduates of Cleveland High School. She is also grandmother to eight grandchildren, future CHS students!

GREG CALFEE

Mr. Greg Calfee is a member of the 1980 graduating class of Cleveland High School. This former CHS tennis player currently serves his hometown as a general contractor and network marketing professional.

Mr. Calfee was a member of the varsity tennis team, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and served as a Homecoming escort. His greatest memory from high school is when one of his best friends, Jeff White, pinned Tommy Freight Train Taylor in a wrestling match. Tommy Taylor was an all-state football player and state champion wrestler with a scholarship to UCLA and Jeff put him on his back!

He credits the influence of coaches, teachers and CHS faculty who encouraged, challenged, and taught him so much more than academic abilities or athletic skills, but also how to live life as a productive adult. Favorite teachers included Mrs. Elliott, Coach Schriver, Mrs. Hilliard, Mrs. Wattenbarger, and Coach Smith.

Mr. Greg Calfee graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He received an M.B.A. in Finance and Marketing from the University of Georgia. He married the love of his life, Lori King, in 1992, and they are the parents of Reed (a junior at UTK) and Olivia (senior at CHS). Mr. Calfee has owned Greg Calfee Builders LLC for the past 31 years, helping create hundreds of jobs and building over 150 homes. 

QUANTAL LANGFORD

From the Class of 1998, our next Hall of Fame inductee is Mr. Quantal Langford! Mr. Langford no longer spends his time on the wrestling mat for the Blue Raiders, but he is still representing the Blue and making a mark on CHS through his graphic and design work as a founder of Langfordesign.

Mr. Langford was a 4-year member of the wrestling and track teams and the cross country team. He was a Beta Club member for 4 years as well as belonging to the Art Club, Yearbook staff, and Class Olympics. Mr. Langford’s greatest memory from high school is losing a close match in the TSSAA State Wrestling Championship Finals to a future teammate at UTC. He also enjoyed seeing the string of state championship plaques come home in various sports and getting picked as most athletic his senior year.

For Mr. Langford, the greatest impact Cleveland High School had on him was not on a scoreboard or even anything he could put on a resume, but building a platform to get numerous scholarships into college to pursue design and wrestling. Mr. Langford believes his time at CHS allowed him to build enduring relationships with past coaches and teachers, which helped him to create a standard for his life beyond high school.

Since graduation, Mr. Langford was a two time Southern Conference finalist, a Southern Conference Wrestling Champion, three time team Southern Conference champions, and a 2002 Division 1 NCAA Wrestling Championships Qualifier. He earned a B.F.A. in Graphic Design in 2003, then founded Langfordesign in 2007. He works with various businesses, teams, and organizations all over the country. Mr. Langford is also the founder of lifestyle clothing brand Just Heart Apparel. He helps as a wrestling coach, writes articles, volunteers in a fitness gym, and coaches. He has been happily married for fourteen years and is the father of two sons. 

ROGER PICKETT

Mr. Roger Pickett is our Hall of Fame Inductee representing the Class of 1979. From the halls of CHS to Chairman of the Board of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Pickett is currently the Owner and President of MurMaid Mattress, Incorporated.

Mr. Pickett’s high school years were filled with marching band trips and activities under the direction of Mr. Crill Higgins and playing on the baseball team. His greatest memories came from traveling with the 200 member CHS marching band on a bicentennial tour through Virginia, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston where they played in various parades and venues. The band was later invited back to march in a Happy Birthday, USA parade on July 3, 1976, which led to them being featured in a photo spread in Newsweek magazine. Mr. Pickett also treasures memories of a close-knit and now lifelong group of friends and being asked on a first date to the Sadie Hawkins by his future wife, Cindy.

The greatest impact CHS had on the life of Mr. Pickett was that here he found comfort in his own skin as well as a place to belong in the classroom, his group of friends, and making important life decisions.

Upon graduating from CHS, Mr. Pickett attained a Bachelor of Science in Marketing/Business Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He was the top performer in sales at his first job outside of his family business, even as the youngest person on the retail sales floor. Mr. Pickett then took the helm of his family’s business and took it from one factory/showroom to the larger current factory and twelve retail mattress locations. He was the recipient of the Mel Bidwell Small Business Person of the Year Award in Cleveland and Bradley County, the Readers’ Choice of Mattress Stores in Cleveland and Dalton, and voted Best Mattress Store by readers of the Chattanooga Times Free Press for the last fifteen years in a row. Mr. Pickett worked in the youth department of First Baptist Church for 12 years and has participated in the church’s youth camp, Camp Cherokee, for the past 15 years. He also had the honor of traveling to the country of Cambodia on two different occasions where he was able to observe and later contribute to the Build a City mission campaign, which provided new homes to the impoverished homeless people of that country. Mr. Pickett has been married to his wife, Cindy, for 34 years after dating through the latter part of high school and college.

TED CARSON

Mr. Ted Carson, Class of 1978, is well-known on the fields and in the classrooms of Cleveland City Schools. After a long and storied career coaching baseball and teaching physical education, he has now retired from coaching and spends his days influencing young lives through physical education at Yates Elementary School.

Mr. Carson’s greatest memories illustrate the passion he has for Cleveland High School baseball. Most of his greatest memories are from baseball-- time with teammates, game-changing plays, and life-changing coaches. He especially enjoys the memories of all the times they beat Bradley and the playoff run in 1977. However, his greatest memory of CHS took place not as a student, but as a coach, when the 2007 CHS baseball team beat the #2 team in the nation to advance to the state playoffs. In high school, Mr. Carson was a 4 year member of the CHS baseball team, a football player his senior year, and a member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Many doors were opened to Mr. Carson after graduation and he sees them as a direct reflection of his time at CHS. He views his time as a student at Cleveland High School as being all about teamwork. Through his time in baseball at CHS, he learned how to be part of a team and be accountable for his part in that organization. His college education also came about as a result of his high school baseball career, leading to a college career with many successes and honors such as a 2nd place finish in the Junior College World Series with Cleveland State and being named MVP of the TN Vols Baseball team in 1982. Mr. Carson was drafted in the 17th round to the St Louis Cardinals in 1982 and played in the St Louis Cardinals Minor League organization for five seasons.

Mr. Carson was named head coach at Cleveland High School in 1999, a position he held until 2015. His coaching career was highlighted when the 2007 and 2009 CHS Baseball Teams competed in the State Tournament Playoffs. He was inducted into the 2nd Hall of Fame class at Cleveland State. Mr. Carson is married to Cleveland City Schools Employee, Stacy Carson, who teaches at E. L. Ross.

TIM HENDERSON

Once a CHS 4 sport athlete, today a utility company president, our inductee from the Class of 1979 is Mr. Tim Henderson. Mr. Henderson represents Cleveland High School honorably as the President/CEO of Cleveland Utilities.

Mr. Henderson gained a foundation for his future career through his high school involvement with four years on the basketball and football teams, three years on the track team, and a year on the tennis team. He also participated In various clubs at CHS. His greatest memories from high school revolve around the lessons he learned from his mentors. From Coach Ronnie Murphy, he learned to never give up. The positive and upbeat coaching style of Danny Carson and the calm and consistent demeanor of Coach Chuck Condo were favorites.

The excitement of Bradley/Cleveland football week have stuck with Mr. Henderson for 28 years, as has the thrill of the atmosphere of a Friday night game and the pride of wearing your CHS letter jacket. The greatest impact of high school was not realizing it at the time, but the impacts and the importance of relationships with your peers and teachers and how that would shape who you became as an adult.

After graduation from CHS, Mr. Henderson followed with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Health.. He began his career by working for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He began working at Cleveland Utilities in 1993 with several opportunities and advancements that provided the knowledge and skills which led to his current role as President/CEO. Mr. Henderson is also actively involved in the Cleveland community, serving on the Cleveland Shade Tree Board, Tennova Board of Directors, Industrial Development Board, Junior Achievement, United Way Board, and various other organizations. However, no matter how accomplished Mr. Henderson is and becomes, he feels that he is blessed beyond measure by his wonderful family, consisting of his wife and three sons.