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Tag: A Great Donelson Neighbor

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.”

Russ and Donna have been married for over 35 years with three kids and a beautiful foster daughter in Guatemala, who came into their lives through an organization to help children with medical needs. Russ, Donna and DCC have also impacted the kids at McGavock Elementary in a big way by being a PENCIL Partner, offering weekly tutoring, meals for teachers, PTA support, free weekly ESL classes for adults, providing backpacks with school supplies, and a free community dinner once a month. DCC was the first church to be awarded the Outstanding PENCIL Partner Award, presented by Mayor Karl Dean. Their Help Center is open every Tuesday and assists 50 families weekly with free food, clothing and furniture. DCC completed an expansion in 2012 and includes a free quarterly dental clinic. They are also involved in Room at the Inn, providing lodging and food for 24 homeless men one night each week in November through March.

When Donelson Church of Christ created a Minister of Community Outreach position in 2011, Russ and Donna had an opportunity to come back home to Donelson. “Nothing is Louder than Love” is a theme at the church and the congregation has done great things to put that into action. Russ is a fellow graduate of Leadership Donelson-Hermitage Class of 2013 and we bonded a friendship that grew when he joined the board of directors for the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber of Commerce and became the Division Director for Community Development. Russ enriched my personal experience on the board and especially while President, we had the opportunity to work together to enhance the Chamber’s Program of Work to reach out to the faith community and Donelson-Hermitage Ministerial Association to put together an annual Faith Leader’s Forum sponsored by Donelson Church of Christ. To prepare for the event, Russ cataloged the over 50 faith communities in the Donelson-Hermitage-Old Hickory area and created an incredibly successful luncheon, where members of over 30 different faith communities attended, accompanied by non-profits and Metro agencies, that resulted in a comprehensive list of ways our faith community gives back, from supporting the blind, care for Lyme disease, clothing for the needy, clothes and formula for newborns, financial assistance with rent or utilities, alcoholics anonymous, Alzheimer’s support, amputee support, grief and loss support, tutoring, career counseling, pregnancy crisis support, and a list for needy families to show where a different food bank is open every day of the week.

Our faith communities serve Donelson in so many incredible ways and as one of its leaders, Russ has brought energy, humility, a joyous sense of humor and an inspiring spirit that brings smiles to everyone.

A Great Donelson Neighbor, Donelson Church Of Christ, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, McGavock High School Graduate, Nashville, Russ King Of Donelson

Porter Wagoner


Porter Wagoner, who was known as “Mr. Grand Ole Opry”, lived in Pennington Bend in a modest brick ranch-style house typical of the kind seen in Donelson. Neighbors in Donelson often saw him in town at the grocery store or at local restaurants. After his death in 2007, The Tennessean’s Gail Kerr (who grew up in Donelson), wrote that “folks refer to Porter as a musical icon, the Thin Man from West Plains, or the Rhinestone Troubadour, but in 37214, he’s just called neighbor.”

Although well known for his many rhinestone suits and blond pompadour while performing on stage, Jeannette Rudy, whose family sold some of their farm in the Pennington Bend area in the 1960’s and 70’s where Opryland and the Grand Ole Opry were built, remembered all the times they had coffee together and the song he wrote for her, simply titled “My Neighbor”.

Porter Wagoner’s career spanned almost 60 years and he was an RCA Victor recording artist between 1951 and 1980, charting 81 records. The Porter Wagoner Show was a big hit for television and one of the first syndicated shows in Nashville, airing from 1960 to 1981. He earned three Grammy’s for his Gospel recordings with the Blackwood Brothers Quartet. Porter was also a fan of R&B, bringing James Brown to the Grand Ole Opry and produced an album for Grammy-award winning singer Joe Simon.

Some of the albums that Porter recorded in the 1970’s were considered “conceptual albums” in that they were built around a particular theme. Porter’s final album in 2007 called “Wagonmaster” was produced by Marty Stuart (also a Donelson neighbor at one time) and it too was thematic, written around an unrecorded Johnny Cash song called “Committed to Parkview”. The album received rave reviews and was considered a return to raw, classic country music.

I hope you enjoy this small selection of Porter’s recordings I chose. Some of the tunes he wrote were no doubt written right here at his home in Donelson.

Highway Headin’ South (written by Porter Wagoner)
Big Wind (written by George McCormick, Wayne Walker, and Alex Zanetis)
What Ain’t to Be, Just Might Happen (written by Porter Wagoner)
Indian Creek (written by Porter Wagoner)
Singing on the Mountain (written by Porter Wagoner)
Please Don’t Stop Loving Me (written and performed by Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton)
Raining Blues at Midnight (written by Porter Wagoner)
Be A Little Quieter (written by Porter Wagoner)

A Great Donelson Neighbor, Jeff Syracuse, Metro Council District 15, Lived in Pennington Bend, Mr. Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Porter Wagoner