University honors Overbey, Robinette and Hodges at alumni event
Carson-Newman President Randall O’Brien, left, congratulates award recipients during C-N’s Alumni Banquet. Pictured with O’Brien from left to right are Distinguished Alumnus Awards recipients Doug Overby and Dr. John Lee Welton, who received the award on behalf of Joseph Robinette, and Jimmy Hodges, recipient of the R.R. Turner Spirit of Carson-Newman Award.
On April 15, Carson-Newman University awarded Doug Overbey and Joseph Robinette its 2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award. It also presented James A. “Jimmy” Hodges the R.R. Turner Spirit of Carson-Newman Award, named for C-N legendary professor and Jefferson City resident Dr. R.R. Turner.
Maryville’s Doug Overbey ’76 was recognized for his continued service in law and politics. Having received more than 81 percent of the vote in 2008’s general election, he represents Blount and Sevier Counties in the Tennessee Senate. He serves on the Finance, Ways & Means Committee, Secretary of the Judiciary Committee, and is a member of the Health & General Welfare Committee. Prior to his election as senator, he served eight years in the Tennessee House.
“What you saw in Doug was someone very interested and very keen on trying to help people,” said Hon. Dwight Stokes, C-N class of 1974. “I think he did learn a tremendous about community service when he was here at Carson-Newman. You see now that when he goes out into the communities, he’s living it every day. He is a person that just wants to be able to serve.”
His political career began during his time at Carson-Newman. The magna cum laude graduate was president of his senior class and held leadership positions in several campus organizations. After C-N, he finished first in his 1979 class from the University of Tennessee School of Law.
He co-founded the Robertson, Overbey, Wilson & Beeler law firm in 1982, and is a member of the Blount County, Knoxville, Tennessee and American Bar Associations. A tireless supporter of veterans, Senator Overbey has offered and supported legislation to provide varied tax-relief measures for former POWs, for those totally-disabled through service-related issues, and for surviving spouses of Armed Service members killed in combat.
He and wife Kay have three daughters.
A 1960 graduate, Joseph Robinette is the writer or cowriter of 55 plays and musicals. He adds C-N’s Distinguished Alumnus Award to an impressive collection of honors. They include the Charlotte Chorpenning Cup, the Children’s Theater Foundation of America Medallion Award, and the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award
“Joe is one of the most prolific and talented playwrights in America,” said Gayle Sergel, who works with Robinette in her role as vice president of Dramatic Publishing.
Robinette has worked with E. B. White on the theatrical version of “Charlotte’s Web,” and with composer Charles Strouse on the musical version. He recently wrote the book for the musical take on a film classic, “A Christmas Story,” produced in part by Peter Billingsley, the original “Ralphie.”
The Jasper, Ga. native’s plays include “A Rose for Emily,” “Anne of Green Gables,” “The Jungle Book”, “Peter Rabbit and his Friends” and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” and have been produced annually on hundreds of stages across the country by schools, universities, regional theatres and leading national companies.
“He is like a child in terms of that great imagination,” championed former C-N Professor Dr. John Lee Welton. “He is one of the most creative people I have ever met.”
He and his wife Helen Marie Seitz have five children.
Jefferson City’s Jimmy Hodges may be the best-known C-N personality of the last 25 years. The Spirit of Carson-Newman Award recipient serves as director of safety and security, overseeing the campus safety of some 2,500 students, faculty and staff members. His service has included leading freshman experience courses, leading scores of personal defense classes, and working to keep many students in school and helping a few decide on a new path.
“You’ve got an alum whose retired from the federal government,” said Dr. Ross Brummett, vice-president of Student Affairs. “He doesn’t have to come and serve his alma mater. He comes and does that out of a love for his alma mater.”
Hodges graduated in 1965 with a Bachelors of Arts in political science before working as Hamblen County’s one-person juvenile probation officer, and then as assistant director of the 3000-strong Knoxville Boys Club, then one of the largest in the Southeast.
In 1970, the Marine Corps veteran became a special agent in the United States Naval Investigative Service, the precursor to NCIS. The Knoxville native was responsible for conducting both criminal and counter-intelligence investigations, work that moved his growing family across the U.S several times. He led investigations from North America to Northern Africa, served as a liaison agent with law enforcement agencies for several Pacific Basin countries, and worked with the FBI to expose fraud operations that involved defense contractors and government employees.
After a brief experiment with retirement 2005, Hodges returned to his alma mater in 2008 to oversee security.
He and his wife Mary Bozeman Hodges have two children.