By: Jack Swift
A skift of snow has fallen on Johnson County and the surrounding area, leaving patches of the white stuff on the ground. So far, there has been a minimal amount of snow, but you can bet we will see more in the not too distant future. Slick roads and frozen pipes are just two of the unfavorable events that we don’t want to see. For its esthetic value though, who could ask for a more beautiful sight than the countryside blanketed with a few inches of snow.
I mention snow because of a Tomahawk newspaper I found while looking through some of my old files a while back. The date of the edition was January 28, 1987. The newspaper headline was “Snow, Snow, Snow and More Snow.” A front-page story, written by retired Tomahawk Associate Editor, Lee Staiger covered the snow and its aftermath along with predictions of more snow to come. An interesting photo by Mike Long accompanied the article. The picture featured a piece of farm machinery with about four inches of snow on it — a nice representation of the weather at that time.
The paper had a number of interesting stories but one that jumped out at me was a story I did on Johnson County’s own Ralph G. Stout. Ralph has had tremendous influence on Johnson County. Through his long career as sports official and supervisor, he has “put Johnson County on the map,” so to speak. Ralph also served the Town of Mountain City as Mayor for 19 years, along with being owner and operator of a successful watch repair and jewelry business for many years. I was honored to have written the story on Ralph and I’m glad to reflect on it again.
In the article I noted that the sportswriters of Tennessee named him “Outstanding Prep Official in the State of Tennessee”. He received the prestigious award at a meeting of the Lawrenceburg Quarterback Club in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.
During his tenure as mayor, Ralph was honored by having the park that is located along 421North named for him. In addition, he has received a host of other accolades during his distinguished career. He was for many years a basketball and football official. He was the supervisor of basketball officials in the Ohio Valley Conference. He was also state supervisor of prep basketball and football officials in Region One. Noted for his colorful but accurate and fair officiating, he has many interesting stories to tell about his experiences and the people he has met. He is considered an ambassador for the area since he is well known across Tennessee as well as the southeast.
Stout was born in Mountain City in 1921. After attending Lincoln Memorial University and Elgin Watchmakers College he served three years in the Navy. He is married to the former Margie Baker of Williamsburg, Kentucky. They have five children.