Caught for Life

Letters to the Editor

General comments

My wife and I both enjoyed this issue very much. We always look forward to the arrival of the next issue.
Joe L. Lay Jr. and Gail S. Lay (both Knoxville ’74)

The winter 2012 Alumnus was special, as I met my wife at UT Knoxville in 1967. I was one of three black athletes recruited to attend the university that year. My wife worked her first year out of high school in Chattanooga to pay for her first year in Carrick Hall plus tuition and books. I became an All-American in track, thanks to her support and our great university that allowed me to travel across the United States to NCAA and AAU meets. Andy Holt picked us up one day in this huge car as we were walking down Cumberland Avenue. Many of the first-year students did not have cars in those days. We still remember how personable he was. Fast forward to today … my wife is a college professor, and I am the executive director of, where we are both certified facilitators of the Family Dynamics Institute. We will cite our UT faculty (“The Therapist Is In” article) in our future seminars.
Audry and Phyllis Hardy (both Knoxville ’71)

On the redesign

If your desire was to hide the fact that the newsletter has anything to do with the University of Tennessee, you did a great job.
Philip Royer (Knoxville ’77)

Love it. I read all the articles — something I didn’t always do in the past. My favorite was Dan Conaway’s piece about fishing with Andy Holt. He truly captured the essence of Andy — the man who personified UT for thousands of students — me included. Thanks for the new look and feel and the connection with the past, present and future of the university.
Barbara Brickels Viser (Knoxville ’71)

On “Caught for Life” by Dan Conaway

I just finished the piece about Andy Holt and Dan Conaway. I am personally seeing to it that this story goes viral. I met Andy Holt as a first-quarter freshman in 1975, and in 30 minutes of his undivided attention I was imprinted like a little duck. Great day. How we could use Andy Holt right now.
Dan Batey (Knoxville ’80)

The article on Andy Holt was heartwarming. It so eloquently portrayed a gentle giant in Tennessee history. As a freshman student, I was fortunate enough to have visited his house. The memories are as clear as if it happened yesterday. Thanks from an old alumnus.
Harley Erb (Knoxvile ’74)

It was a delight to read the recent article about Dr. Holt taking a student fishing on a Sunday morning. I remember so many stories about Dr. Holt. One of my favorites occurred after I graduated from graduate school and had moved to Nashville. I had taken a position with the UT Nashville Extension Center, which was located on Broadway across from the Federal Court Building. One morning, Dr. Holt walked into my office and asked if I could do him a favor. The way I recall, he had come to Nashville to execute a document related to the merger of the University of Chattanooga and the University of Tennessee. He told me he had left his briefcase at the airport and wanted to know if I could have someone retrieve it for him. Of course, I told him that I would take care of it and asked him to describe the briefcase. He said it was a basic briefcase with three things in it — his Bible, an apple and an extra pair of underwear. So, while Dr. Holt went to his meeting, I asked one of our secretaries if she would go to the airport and retrieve Dr. Holt’s briefcase. I told her what Dr. Holt said was in it. In a short time she returned with the briefcase that included exactly what Dr. Holt said would be in it. A little while later, Dr. Holt came into my office headed to another meeting at the Capitol. I gave him his briefcase and mentioned the name of the secretary who had retrieved it. The next week, the secretary came into my office holding a letter in her hand with the biggest smile on her face that I had ever seen. She requested that I read the letter. It was a personal note from Dr. Holt on the president’s letterhead thanking her for retrieving his briefcase. It also went on to thank her for being such a good employee and expressing how important her position was to the university. To say the least, she would have done anything for him in the future. This is an example of classic Dr. Holt. Everyone was important to Dr. Holt, and he treated everyone the same whether you were a professor, vice president, secretary or custodian.
Clay Harkleroad (Knoxville ’65, ’67)

Congratulations to you and author Dan Conaway on the excellent profile of the late President Andy Holt in the recent Tennessee Alumnus magazine. The article captures the essence of this remarkable man absolutely flawlessly! In dealing with leadership issues in recent weeks I’ve had occasions to use this story as an example of how one remarkable person can truly affect the culture of an entire organization, as Dr. Holt did. I’ll be referring to it and him in a course I’ll be teaching soon.
George A. Condon (Knoxville ’58, ’62)

On “Marriage by Numbers

Interesting article, “Marriage by Numbers.” However, the author missed one major reason that couples don’t marry or separate or “lie” about their marital situation. This is a result of the way government distributes “welfare” through the tax system (Earned Income Credit – EIC). If you are considered married and live together more than six of the first six months of the year, the combined income of both parents may be above the EIC Credit threshold that could be as much as additional $6,000 + for the custodial parent. So they separate, get a divorce or “lie” about their marriage status in order to get this credit. They want to use head of household or “single” marital status (either not married or considered not married for tax purposes) rather than married filing jointly. If one knows how to manipulate the system, they can work six months and then “vacation” the next six months knowing they will get a large tax credit “refund.” If they worked all year, they may miss the credit or get a lesser credit due to more income to report. (Same if two are married and report their total income on a joint return). The fast food industry, temporary agencies and self employment gives them a good outlet for this situation. Also some are having children out of wedlock, and they have earned income which gives them this extra money every year. In some cases, it can be extra income for the extended family living in the same household (grandparents, aunts, etc). If you want to have an interesting follow up to this story, investigate this phenomenon. I am a tax preparer so I see these situations every year. Our Government is the biggest instigator of the moral decline in this country through the tax laws and other requirements for “welfare” handouts that are based on children and income. Could also check out low rent or free housing, food stamps, etc. that has the same household income as a basis for qualification.
Thomas Rains, Pulaski, Tenn.

Tell us what you think

Send letters to the editor to Tennessee Alumnus, P265 Andy Holt Tower, Knoxville, TN, 37996 or Or fill out our online contact form. Your comments may be printed in the magazine and edited for length.