- [S4] Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee), 14 Nov 2006.
FOWLER, ALDEN THOMAS - 80 of Parrottsville, passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, November 12 surrounded by his loving wife of 62 years and his three children. He was a member of Harned's Chapel Methodist Church. Alden enjoyed being a Cocke County bus driver for 53 years. He was labeled as Tennessee's oldest and longest bus driver. Over the years he has transported as many as 5 generations on his Parrottsville bus route. He enjoyed his kids and they also loved him. One of Alden's favorite past times was grinding cornmeal. As a young man he and his father operated Harned's Chapel Mill and from this grew a lifetime of grinding meal and flour. He was seen at numerous local festivals grinding corn and talking about his engine and mill. He also had several John Deere tractors which he and son Ronald displayed at lots of festivals. Many times his neighbors called upon him to help fix their tractors. He loved fixing old machinery and working with his hands. He was always ready to help a person in need and never turned any one away. Alden and his 1946 John Deere "A" was also featured in Dollywood's Thunder Road production. He was preceded in death by: his parents, Denton and Grace Fowler; sister, Oneida Basinger; great grand-daughter, Danielle Sullivan. He is survived by: his wife of 62 years, Unavee Fowler of Parrottsville, daughter and son-in-law, Darlene and Ray Shropshire of Parrottsville and sons and daughters-in-laws, Terry and Kim Fowler of Savannah, GA and Ronald and Angel Fowler of Newport. Mr. Fowler will also be greatly missed by: his grandchildren, Casey Webb and husband Grant of Newport, Erin, Ryan, and Justin Fowler of Savannah, GA, Teresa Mock and husband Bob of Knoxville, and Danny Shropshire of Macon, GA. He will be sadly missed by: his great grandchildren, Keagan and Kyler Shropshire, of GA, Addison Webb of Newport, Trinity Fowler of GA, A. J. Sullivan of GA, and Scarlet Sullivan of Memphis. He will also be missed by: his great great-grandchildren, Anthony Myers of Memphis and Jaden and Madison Sullivan of GA. Alden will also be missed by his special brother-in-law, Everette Stinson of Cleveland, Ohio. The family will receive friends Tuesday, November 14, 2006 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Brown Funeral Home, Newport, TN. Funeral services will be at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 15, 2006 with Rev. Mike Elkins officiating. Interment will follow at Harned's Chapel Cemetery.
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 15 Nov 2006.
Fowler Funeral Set for This Afternoon
By: Duay O'Neil
Source: The Newport Plain Talk
Funeral services will be held at 1:00 p.m. today for Alden Thomas Fowler, a Parrottsville man who held the record as the longest working school bus driver in Tennessee. Fowler, 80, died Sunday at his home on Bruners Grove Road, surrounded by his family. He had been diagnosed with leukemia in May of 2005 and retired from the school system in October of that year.
At the time of his retirement, Fowler had driven the same bus route for over 53 years, logging over 1,000,000 miles. In addition to driving the regular day's routes, Fowler also drove the bus for countless ball teams, field trips, and 4-H Club members.
Larry Blazer, Cocke County Schools Director and a Parrottsville native, said, "I first got to know Mr. Fowler when I was in elementary school. He was a bus driver. I really got to know him threshing wheat.
"Over the years I grew to respect Mr. Fowler and finally I called him Alden. He loved his job and his "kids." He hated to bring them to the office, but he knew at times he had to.
"I will never forget Alden. He always did his job and never complained. His being the longest serving driver in the state certainly deserves our praise and gratitude. My memories will be of a great friend, who had one of the most important jobs in the school system: that of a bus driver."
Jimmy McNabb, Cocke County Schools Director of Transportation, added, "Mr. Fowler started driving the bus in 1952 and drove for 53 years. When he first started driving, he drove without pay.
"One of the first buses he drove was a wooden bus, which had a wooden bench down the middle of the aisle for the students to sit on.
"He always drove in the Parrottsville and Bruners Grove communities. Alden always put the children and the bus route first on his daily list of things to do.
"He was also a farmer who took part in community events. He was an icon with his "Hit-Miss" engines that ground corn into meal. He was a very dependable driver, who missed very few days during his 53 years tenure, and who will be sadly missed by the school community."
Fowler was born January 4, 1926, in the same home where he died. His parents were the late Denton and Grace (Blazer) Fowler. He had one younger sister, Oneida, now deceased, who married L. V. Basinger and lived in Limestone.
As a boy, Fowler attended Harned's Chapel School, which stood but a short distance from his home. He also attended church at Harned's Chapel United Methodist Church.
After he left school, Fowler worked with his father on the family farm and later worked as a mechanic at Blazer's Service Station in Parrottsville for the late Berlin Basinger.
As a teenager, he joined his father and others in traveling to nearby farms to thresh wheat. One of these jobs took him to nearby Basinger Hollow where the Fowlers worked for the George and Martha (Pack) Stinson family.
A Stinson daughter, Unave, took the hot workers glasses of water. Within a month, she and Alden began a courtship, helped along by her brother, Everett Stinson, who became a lifelong friend of his future brother-in-law.
The couple married November 11, 1944, and began housekeeping in Fowler's family home. The couple's celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary last Saturday, the day before his death.
His work with the Cocke County School system began when he was asked to drive Charles Smelcer's route the last three days of school in 1952 because Smelcer was ill.
Later, Loys Ottinger, then working with the county school's transportation system, called and asked Fowler if he would like a permanent route, earning $75 a month.
During his tenure of over half a century, Fowler drove the same route, carefully and safely transporting generations of Parrottsville students to and from school.
To hundreds of other people in Tennessee, Georgia, and Kentucky, Fowler was known for a different reason.
He and his father worked for many local farmers, mowing, plowing, baling, and threshing, taking their John Deere tractor as far as Greene County.
They also owned and operated the Harned's Chapel Mill, near the Harned's Chapel United Methodist Church, for many years, using a 1946 John Deere tractor to run it. Here they ground feed for cattle, as well as flour and meal for their customers.
They continued this operation until 1966, when one of the mill engine's hammers came apart and the mill exploded.
For many years the mill, which had been bought by Fowler's father from Sears-Roebuck in Knoxville and shipped to Newport via railroad, sat behind the Fowler's barn, unusable because of an inability to get parts.
A few years ago, Fowler took the engine to his shop and later found a source for parts to repair it. He restored the engine and burr mill and began to demonstrate their use to friends.
At Newport's first Harvest Street Festival, Fowler and his son, Ronald, set the engine up on the courthouse lawn, and thus began a second career which would eventually take them all over Tennessee as well as to Kentucky and Georgia.
Dozens of letters from friends made during these trips to festivals, fairs, and gatherings attest to the popularity of their work.
Later Fowler purchased another antique engine from a Greene County source, this one manufactured sometime between 1907-1917 in Wilksboro, NC by a company still in business. Parts were secured, and it, too, was restored.
Corn for their demonstrations was purchased from Temple Mills in Sevierville. "Mr. Temple met us many a Sunday morning to get corn for us," recalled Angel Fowler, a daughter-in-law.
At one festival in Dublin, GA, the Fowlers took 1,000 pounds of corn and sold it all.
Fowler last attended a demonstration of his mill engines in October of this year at the Robert Tino Gallery in Sevierville.
Funeral services will be held at Brown Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Mike Elkins officiating. Interment will be in Harned's Chapel United Methodist Church Cemetery.