Hearts Of The People - Jeff Syracuse For CouncilmanThe Hearts of the People section will highlight special neighbors in Donelson that have passions for supporting their community and/or causes that will hopefully inspire all of us. Donelson has some of the most warm-hearted neighborhoods in Middle Tennessee and that’s because of the people who live here. These will be stories that hopefully inspire all of us for how community is truly created.

Laura Carrillo

Laura Carrillo

Laura Carrillo has a very unique and special connection to Donelson.  Her family has helped care for Donelson’s crown jewel historic site – Two Rivers Mansion, for over 50 years and her dedication has helped make the Two Rivers Mansion, the 1802 House and 14-acre property the success it is today.  Laura’s grandfather, Z.L. Milton, purchased a lot on Pennington Bend Road in 1959 to build a retirement home after working for years at Nashville Street Car and Rail.  Laura’s parents married and moved into the home with Laura’s grandparents.  After acquiring a few more contiguous properties, the family still lives there after four generations.

Laura recalls, “My grandfather started me on this journey when I was 5 years old. Mary Louise Bransford McGavock passed away in November of 1965. In January of 1966 her estate auction was held in a downtown Nashville warehouse with 8 inches of snow on the ground. All of the contents from inside the Mansion were sold and the remaining 445 acres were bought by the new Metropolitan Government of Nashville & Davidson County. After the sale took place someone broke in the Mansion stealing carpets, drapes all the chandeliers and back banister. Metro Police quickly recovered the stolen items. Now some security had to be put in place to protect the Mansion. My Grandfather got word that they were looking for someone to move into the Mansion and care for it.  Not that my Grandparents wanted to live in a Mansion, but there was 445 acres to raise Black Angus cattle on. They moved from Pennington Bend to the McGavock Mansion (as it was known back then) in the winter of 1967 and stayed until 1972.  So many fond memories with Grandparents and family were spent there. I wanted them to stay forever.”

Laura is able to combine a close personal connection to the Mansion and its history and a professional one as she has worked for Metro Parks for over 25 years.  She further recalls, “Growing up down the street, attending both Two Rivers Middle and McGavock High, I would see the Mansion almost every day.  A friend was getting married back in 1990 and I tagged along on the site visit.  I just wanted to see the inside again and walk down memory lane for a moment.  By accident I heard of a job opening there and the company I was working for was going out of business.  I applied for the job and two weeks later they handed me the keys to the Donelson Castle!!  Another journey had started and the plan was just to be there for a short time, which was 25 year ago this past March. “

Laura says she was born in the wrong century.  As a lover of antiques, especially from the mid to late 1880’s, it’s a passion that she shares with husband, Joe.   When they were dating, they’d spend all day in small towns going through all the antique shops and flea markets.  Laura’s Mother-in-law had been an antique dealer and owned a shop.  Laura and Joe plan their vacations around antiquing and touring historical homes.  They even have his and hers antique booths to see who does better each month.  They’ve both brought that passion to the Two Rivers Mansion with the Friends of Two Rivers Mansion’s “Two Hearts Antiques & Crafts Show, which this year will be Friday, February 17 and Saturday, February 18 from 10am-4pm and Sunday, February 19 from 12pm – 4pm.  The Mansion is full of vendors both downstairs and upstairs, so it’s a great opportunity to see the mansion as well.  Members are free.  $5/adults and $2/kids.  There’s a Coffee Shoppe as well. 

As to the future of the Mansion, the future is bright.  One of the latest successes of the Friends of Two Rivers Mansion is completing the process to research and design a Two Rivers Master Plan, which was recently finalized was presented to the Metro Parks Board on January 3, 2017.  It will help guide the preservation and advancement of the property.  One exciting element is the recommendation to rebuild the carriage house that would become an event center.   The building would be designed to hold 200 – 300 people and could be used for all types of events.   The inside of the Mansion and 1802 house would become house museums.  Tours are only available now on a limited basis, but hopefully more will be available in the future.  Laura’s personal and professional passions are on full display as she greets guests in her 1850’s costume and shares the whole McGavock story.

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Naomi Regensburg

Naomi Regensburg

When it comes to a neighbor here in Donelson that has a true heart for the community that grows bigger with each new Spring season, Naomi Regensburg sets the bar.  Much of Donelson’s ongoing beautification efforts can be attributed to Naomi’s leadership and involvement.  There are many elements to creating a more vibrant, welcoming and strong community for both business to invest and good neighbors to move to.  As we all know, our central business community along Lebanon Pike has a lack of green space and beautification with a great deal of pavement and wires.  Naomi’s efforts contribute a great deal to improving that situation and it continues to make a big difference.

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Frank Trew

Frank Trew

I first met Frank Trew at a meeting for The Donelson Gateway Project at the McDonald’s on McGavock Pike when we needed help with our website.  As I learned quickly after becoming good friends with Frank shortly thereafter, his skillset is widespread and he uses each one together to successfully serve his community in extraordinary ways.

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Annie Martin

Annie Martin

On a beautiful Fall afternoon of Sunday, October 4, 2015, I had a wonderful opportunity to be present for the dedication ceremony of a stone bench dedication at Two Rivers Mansion by the Two Rivers High School Class of 1965 on their 50th Anniversary.  I was also beginning to put together my questions for my next Hearts of the People blog featuring Mrs. Annie Martin.  “Ms. Annie” as most folks call her, is 92 and has seen more in Donelson than most.  It struck me that Ms. Annie probably had great memories and stories of Two Rivers Mansion and this event would be a great time to do my interview before the event and invite her to come with me as it probably would trigger more memories.  I arrived at Ms. Annie’s house about an hour before the bench dedication to interview her.  As it turns out, Ms. Annie told me her son graduated in 1965 from Two Rivers High School rival Donelson High School.  It did indeed trigger some great memories.  She remembers Mrs. McGavock twice a year inviting kids in the neighborhood to come to her front porch and she would serve them fresh baked cookies.

Annie’s parents married in 1898.  She recalled her days growing up in Gallatin in the 1920’s and 30’s.  Her dad worked for the Corps of Engineers and was also a lock master at Lock Two at the end of Pennington Bend.  (Just recently, Lock Two was one of the properties that received a historic overlay as proposed by Mayor Dean’s administration).  Her mom was a teacher and Annie remembered stories of her Mom recalling riding their horse and buggy every day to the school where she taught, going through the Toll Gate, which was near one of the Donelson Gateway Project sites at the intersection of Stewart’s Ferry Pike and Lebanon Pike.  Today that site has a small toll gate acknowledging that site’s history.  Annie also remembered stories of her Mom recalling riding by McGavock Pike while it was still an unpaved road.  Mrs. McGavock would refer to it as “her road”.

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Marylee Locey

Marylee Locey

A native of Illinois who has also spent some years on the west coast, Marylee Locey has lived in Nashville for over seven years and in that time has set the bar in this community with the love and support she has shown both her neighbors and the “furkids” of our families alike. Most have known Marylee from her tireless devotion to the Hip Donelson Lost & Found Pets group, but she has supported and volunteered with many animal shelters and rescue organizations ever since she was a child. Marylee remembers always having multiple animals in her life. Her first dog, Fritzie, was a retired K-9 shepherd who Marylee describes as her first sibling and remembers they “conquered the world together. He was my protector, my confidant and my partner in crime. He never left my side.” Advocacy for animals has always been part of Marylee’s life and some of her earliest memories are of bringing rescued animals home. She grew up in rural Illinois and remembers always bringing home a friend to fix up and care for. As a teenager wanting to make an even bigger impact in the lives of animals, Marylee saved up enough money to take a trip to Utah to see the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the largest no kill sanctuary in the world. A major aspect of animal advocacy that Marylee learned is that the best way to reduce euthanasia rates at local shelters is to support spay and neutering. She has volunteered for several low cost spay/neuter clinics while attending college. Local Middle Tennessee spay/neuter clinics that Marylee has worked with and encourages everyone to check out are Pet Community Center, Nashville Humane Association’s ROVER and Sumner Spay Neuter Alliance.

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Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby

Jack Kirby is a true unsung hero in Donelson and beyond.  I had the pleasure of getting to Jack through Hip Donelson and our natural love of music and supporting artists bonded a great friendship.  When I began to learn about Jack’s incredible history of being on the production staff of Hee Haw, filling in for musicians at the Grand Ole Opry and everything he did as part of a number of different teams making those shows big successes, my admiration and respect for Jack went even deeper.

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Russ King

Russ King

Russ King grew up in Donelson and graduated from McGavock High School. He earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Arts in Religion from Lipscomb University. He’s currently working towards a Masters Degree in Conflict Management.  Russ has good memories of going to kindergarten at Donelson Church of Christ, playing football at the YMCA, hanging out at Opryland in middle school, and cruising Shoney’s near Donelson Plaza in his high school years. Russ recalls getting his first pair of glasses, first speeding ticket, first kiss, and getting married all in Donelson. “It’s where I learned the blessing of good friends, the value of good neighbors, hard work, respect and faith,” Russ recalls about growing up in the community. “Many things have changed through the years, but these values are still taught and lived right here in 37214.  I am thankful to have grown up here and excited about our future.”

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Stephanie Pruitt

Stephanie Pruitt

Stephanie Pruitt never learned that you have to choose only one path.  The native Nashvillian is a poet, community catalyst, and creative strategist who earned an undergraduate degree in Marketing from MTSU and her MFA in creative writing from Vanderbilt.  She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize, Sedberry Prize and Essence Magazine named her one of their “40 Favorite Poets.”  Stephanie has taught arts education and creative writing at Vanderbilt University, Sewanee Young Writers' Conference, and as a visiting artist in over one hundred k-12 and community settings.  

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Jenny White

Jenny White

Jenny White and her husband Kent have been residents of Lincoya Hills for over 17 years.  She is a graduate of Belmont University and originally from Evansville, IN.  Jenny is active in the Donelson community as the President of the Lincoya Hills Neighborhood Association and Community Chair for the Donelson-Hermitage Relay for Life.  Jenny and Kent enjoy biking on the Greenway, adventure dining with friends and just about anything that takes place in New York City.

When a life altering diagnosis came her way in October 2010, Jenny found her passion in creating awareness and advocating for lung cancer.  When she found no support for lung cancer, Jenny partnered with Lung Cancer Alliance to bring the first ever national chapter for lung cancer advocacy to Tennessee.  Jenny also volunteers with the Tennessee Cancer Coalition, American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network.  She recently trained for a marathon and her story was featured as part of St. Thomas Health’s “Nothing Shall Be Impossible” initiative highlighting inspiring stories from those who beat cancer.  You may recall seeing Jenny on bulletin boards and on the side of MTA buses across the city advertising this initiative and proudly wearing her “Dear Cancer, You Lose!” shirt.  Check out the full story at: http://nothingshallbeimpossible.com/story/19/lung-cancer-survivor-trains-for-marathon.

Jenny is an inspiration to many and Donelson is lucky to have her as a neighbor.

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