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Danner: Honoring Millard Oakley’s Legacy Will Be Community Effort

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Danner: Honoring Millard Oakley’s Legacy Will Be Community Effort

Overton County Executive Ben Danner said that you couldn’t find someone who cared more about his community than a man like Millard Oakley.

Oakley passed away Thursday morning at the age of 91. Danner said that the million-dollar question will be how to continue Oakley’s legacy. He said that it’s not something that just one person can achieve, but that it will require community-wide effort.

“I mean there’s just not a lot of people like that anymore,” Danner said. “They always say, ‘They’re not making them like that anymore,’ Well they’re never going to make them like Millard again he is one of kind. And I’m just honored that I got to know him.”

Danner said that Millard taught him that you don’t have to have money to be a friend to your community. He said that though Oakley lent a helping hand wherever and whenever he could.

Danner said that of his many community contributions, both through support and through finances, there was one project that wouldn’t have been possible without Oakley’s help–upgrading the county services building.

“You know we tried for several years and it just didn’t work out,” Oakley said. “I met with Millard a few years ago and we started talking about it and he really wanted to change the look of Overton County. You know we probably had one of the worst county office buildings in the state I would say. It’s just a really big facelift for the county to get this building, and he never even asked for his name on any of this stuff.”

Danner said that Millard contributed $1 million to the library, and some $2 million to the county services building. He said that in addition, Oakley donated to Vol State, Tennessee Tech, and people in the community. Danner said it might not be well-known, but Oakley also community members send their kids to school who couldn’t otherwise afford it.

Danner said that his first impression of Millard Oakley was in 2002 when Danner was on the county commission. He said that since then, Oakley has become a great friend and mentor.

“I’ve said it before so many times but we are so lucky to have Millard as a resident of Overton County,” Danner said. “He loved Overton County and he did what he could to help us. And he taught us that if you grow up in a place and live in a place and you want to help that place out and help the people there, you can do that. And he sure did that over his lifetime. I appreciate the friendship that I had with him.”


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