LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Arlis Chapman loved Campbell County. In fact, except for college at ETSU and a tour of duty in the Korean War, he was here in the county where he was born and raised.
A male elementary school teacher is rare. Even more rare is a Marine war veteran teaching school. Chapman was both. The leatherneck returned from war and began an over 40 year career in education, teaching school, serving as a principal and later as a supervisor for Campbell County Schools. The last position he held was leading the school system as its superintendent.
Arlis Chapman served as school superintendent in the days when the superintendent was chosen in a county wide election.
“Arlis was my friend and a friend to the children of Campbell County,” said former Campbell County Director of Schools Donnie Poston. Chapman proudly served as the superintendent of schools, now known as director of schools, from 1992 until 1996.
Chapman loved talking politics and served on the county commission in the 1980s. He was one of the last school superintendents to be elected to serve by the people through a county wide election.
In addition to his career, Chapman was a family man who raised four daughters. “Mom and dad grew up together and were young sweethearts; married for 68 years,” said one of his daughters, Melinda Richardson. He and Helen, two years younger than Arlis, were graduates of Wynn High School.
“Arlis had an enormous loving and kind heart. His sense of humor was equal to his kindness,” added Poston. Chapman gave Poston his first job in the Central Office as elementary supervisor, a position he held for eight years.
For Chapman and his wife Helen, there was no traveling and no big retirement trips. They quietly and happily retired to a home on Norris Lake for a life of gardening and fishing.
“He was an encourager and one that would listen if you disagreed with him,” Poston explained. Chapman started the music program in the county’s elementary schools. The softball field at Campbell County High School was named for Chapman in the spring of 1996.
Arlis and Helen enjoyed spending time together especially on the lake in their fishing boat. Melinda laughed when she said, “Mom always said we mount his fish and eat mine.”
Sadly, the death of Helen in 2018 ended their days of fishing together. On Saturday morning, Chapman will be laid to rest next to his old fishing buddy atop the hill at Bakers Forge Cemetery overlooking Norris Lake in Chapman’s beloved Campbell County. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 01/15/2021-6AM)