Lonas Bedford Chapman
Lonas Bedford Chapman was born August 1, 1915, in Cherry Bottom of Campbell County, Tennessee. He dropped out of high school at the end of his junior year and realized the necessity of an education. He entered Lake City High School and was greatly influenced by a teacher, Mr. H.C. Slover. Mr. Slover had a very positive influence on Bedford’s life. He recognized Bedford’s ability and helped him to enroll at Lincoln Memorial University.
Bedford left for LMU with only $13 in his pocket, but with very high expectations. He worked on the LMU farm where Mr. C.P. Williams, LMU business manager, observed his good work habits and offered him a job driving the LMU bus for sports and concert trips. Bedford used the job to stay in school and made arrangements to pay the balance of his tuition after his discharge from the U.S. Air Force.
When Bedford returned from serving in the Air Force he started a lumber business, but a severe accident in 1947 forced him to abandon the business. In July of that year, Bedford opened the Gateway Hardware and Appliance Company on Clinton Highway while still on crutches. He quickly gained a reputation as a fair and honest business man. His personal concern for others and exceptional business vision led to a rapidly expanding operation. Bedford purchased adjoining real estate and rented facilities to create retail traffic which promoted growth and progress in the community.
Bedford personally helped clear up the area and worked with the Superintendent of Schools and Knoxville City officials to secure an elementary school. He convinced the Presbyterian Church to establish a congregation in the community and personally helped with the physical building. He was a community leader and served as a church elder, Boy Scout leader, Little League coach, and Sunday School teacher. While his business operations grew and prospered he continued to involve himself in the community and was well respected by his colleagues and all who knew him.
Mr. Chapman never forgot the opportunity LMU provided him and worked to promote the university. He helped reactivate the Knoxville Area LMU Alumni Club and served as president for several terms. He helped organize the Norwood Kiwanis Club and severed as its President as well as Lieutenant Governor of the Kentucky-Tennessee District of Kiwanis.