- [S47] Sevier County, Tennessee and its Heritage, Sevier County Heritage Book Committee, (1994, Don Mills, Inc.), 314, 315.
- [S84] E-Mail, Walter Lee Ogle [email@example.com], 11 Oct 2007.
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 8 Jul 2012.
Upland Chronicles: Ray Reagan served his community in many ways
By CARROLL McMAHAN
An awkward pause would sometimes occur at the end of a wedding ceremony performed by Judge Ray L. Reagan in his chamber.
“How much do I owe ye’, Judge?” the beaming groom would nervously ask. “Just pay me whatever you think she’s worth,” would be the reply from the solemn judge. He was usually paid well for his services.
That type of folksy demeanor was among the appealing qualities possessed by Judge Reagan that endeared him to Sevier County voters.
Ray Lawrence Reagan was born Aug. 23, 1921, in the Dupont community near Seymour. He was the oldest of 10 children of Lawrence Clifford Reagan and Neva Householder Reagan.
When Ray Reagan graduated from Harrison-Chilhowee Academy, he was the first member of his family to receive a high school diploma.
While he was serving in the Army Air Corps as a mechanic and pilot, 21-year-old Ray and 19-year-old Martha Louise Ogle married at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. in 1943.
After World War ll, Ray and Louise moved back to the Dupont community where they farmed and Ray commuted to his factory job at Fulton’s Manufacturing Co. (later merged and renamed Robertshaw Controls) in Knoxville.
The couple had five children: Charlene (Phillips), Ronald, Janice (Todd), Randy and Yvonne (Williams).
In 1956, 35-year-old Ray was elected Justice of the Peace representing his civil district on the Sevier County Court.
Although he never received a college education or attended law school, Ray ran for County Judge in 1958 and was elected. In preparation for the position, he read all the TCA Codes law books cover to cover.
His campaign motto was “Let’s keep people working with jobs in Sevier County.”
While in office, he was instrumental in attracting new industry to broaden the agricultural and tourism economy of the county. Along with several prominent businessmen, he spearheaded the movement to establish the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce in 1963.
The official statement issued by the new organization was to “advance the commercial, financial industrial and civic interests of the community, accomplishing collectively what no one can do individually.” Judge Reagan served on the first Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce.
His primary concerns were to provide jobs and medical facilities within the county so its citizens would not have to travel outside of the county for their livelihood and medical treatment.
With the assistance of the newly formed Chamber of Commerce and a county court willing to support his objectives, Judge Reagan was instrumental in the development of Sevier County Industrial Park, the Sevier County Hospital and a new airport.
He was also very concerned about those who lived in poverty. Often when funds budgeted for the indigent were exhausted he would dip into his own pockets or solicit assistance for them from the business community.
His benevolence was sometimes accompanied by humor. One such case involved a woman whose husband had died in a tragic fire that also destroyed her home and all of her possessions. Knowing the poor woman did not have the money for new clothes to wear to her husband’s funeral, Judge Reagan managed to provide a new outfit for her with the help of several Sevierville merchants.
A week later the grieving widow walked into his office wearing her mourning clothes with a man the judge had never before seen. “We just got our license,” the woman proudly exclaimed. “Judge Reagan, will ye’ marry us?”
In 1966 Judge Reagan was elected to a second eight-year term and to a third term in 1974. Throughout the years he served as county judge, he always maintained an “open door” policy. All citizens of Sevier County had access to his office at any time and he would take time to listen to their concerns.
He was also involved with the TVA project to re-route the west prong of the Little Pigeon River to alleviate devastating downtown flooding, and he oversaw the renovation of the courthouse in 1974.
In 1975 Judge Reagan was named to represent county governments on the Advisory Council for Local Government Training Policy, which he, along with D.W. McKinnis, proposed for a coordinated statewide system.
Judge Reagan died March 24, 1978, at the age of 56. He served as County Judge for almost 20 years.
Posthumous honors for the man who devoted his life to the people of Sevier County include the naming of the Judge Ray L. Reagan Bridge on Winfield Dunn Parkway (Highway 66) crossing the French Broad River and changing the name from Sevier County Industrial Park to the Ray L. Reagan Industrial Park.
Since his passing the position of county judge was changed by the Legislature to County Executive and then to County Mayor. Ray L. Reagan will always be respectfully called Judge Reagan by Sevier County residents who remember him.
—Carroll McMahan is the special projects facilitator for the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce. The Upland Chronicles series celebrates the heritage and past of Sevier County. If you have suggestions for future topics, would like to submit a column or have comments, please contact Carroll McMahan at 453-6411 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or Ron Rader at 604-9161 or email to email@example.com.
- [S23] Atchley Funeral Home, (http://www.atchleyfuneralhome.com/), 29 Aug 2016.
Ronald Ray Reagan obituary
- [S112] Census, 1930.
Name: Ray L Reagan
Event Date: 1930
Event Place: Knoxville, Knox, Tennessee
Marital Status: Single
Estimated Birth Year: 1922
Relationship to Head of Household: Son
Father's Birthplace: Tennessee
Mother's Birthplace: Tennessee
Enumeration District Number: 0064
Family Number: 305
Sheet Number and Letter: 14A
Line Number: 21
NARA Publication: T626, roll 2259
Film Number: 2341993
Digital Folder Number: 4548173
Image Number: 00608
Household Gender Age
Parent Clifford L Reagan M 26
Parent Neva M Reagan F 26
Ray L Reagan M 8
Ralph C Reagan M 7
Imogene M Reagan F 5
Frank A Reagan M 2
Frances M Reagan F 2
- [S112] Census, 1940.
Name: Ray Reagan
Event Type: Census
Event Date: 1940
Event Place: Civil District 10, Sevier, Tennessee, United States
Marital Status: Single
Race (Original): White
Relationship to Head of Household (Original): Son
Relationship to Head of Household: Son
Birth Year (Estimated): 1922
Last Place of Residence: Same House
Household Role Gender Age Birthplace
Clifford Reagan Head M 35 Tennessee
Neva Reagan Wife F 36 Tennessee
Ray Reagan Son M 18 Tennessee
Ralph Reagan Son M 17 Tennessee
Imogene Reagan Daughter F 15 Tennessee
Frank Reagan Son M 12 Tennessee
Frances Reagan Daughter F 12 Tennessee
Carroll Reagan Son M 7 Tennessee
Richard Reagan Son M 5 Tennessee
Charlotte Reagan Daughter F 3 Tennessee
- [S76] Atchley Funeral Home Records, Volume III, 1974-1986, Larry D. Fox, (Smoky Mountain Historical Society), 24 Mar 1978.
Reagan, Ray Lawrence 56 b. 8-23-21 TN d. 3-24-78 Knox Bapt Hosp Sev County Judge past 20 years f. Clifford Reagan m. Neva Householder WW II Army Sgt 920th Air Engr Sq Ft Oglethorpe GA 7-8-42 Camp Atterbury IN 10-16-45 Dupont Cem Survivors: wife Louise Ogle R2 Sey 2sons Ronald R Randy 3 dau Charlene Phillips Janice Todd Yvonne Reagan 5 gc Lisa Phillips Angela Phillips Rachel Phillips Lori Reagan Jason Reagan m. 5 bro Ralph Frank Carroll Richard Don 4 sis Imogene Smelcer Frances Hobbs Charlotte Reed Marilyn Davenport mem Dupont Bapt Ch mem Sevier Masonic Lodge 334.
- [S34] In the Shadow of the Smokies, Smoky Mountain Historical Society, (1993), 589.
Sgt. US Army WWII, Sevier Count Judge 1958-1978