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Derl Harry McCloud

Derl Harry McCloud, 84, of Mountain City, passed away on Sunday morning, April 26, 2020. He had a full and blessed life. Derl was born on August 26, 1935 in the Cobbs Creek community near Butler to Harry Shultz McCloud and Hazel Marie Stout McCloud. After graduation from Johnson County High School in 1954, Derl entered the U.S. Air Force and was assigned to Biggs Airforce Base in El Paso, Texas. While in the service he took night classes for college credit and was also awarded a Good Conduct Medal. At the completion of his service, he held the rank of Airman First Class and the office of First Sergeant and was honorably discharged.

Derl returned to Johnson County in 1958 and attended East Tennessee State University. Then, through the GI training program, he worked as an apprentice trainee at Johnson County Publishers, publishers of The Tomahawk newspaper, as a linotype operator.  

During his apprenticeship, Derl met and married Gladys Marie Icenhour. After he had worked at the paper almost ten years, he and Gladys purchased the paper and commercial printing business from Ross Fritts who was retiring. During their ownership, the size of The Tomahawk grew from an 8-page tabloid created with Linotype machines and a letterpress that printed two pages at a time to a modern 26-page color weekly composed with computers and printed offset in a nearby plant. Derl was presented with a gold watch for 25 years of service with The Tomahawk in 1984. Then, in 1986, he and Gladys sold the paper and publishing business.

Derl was also successful in other endeavors. He was a licensed real estate broker and operated McCloud Realty. He and Gladys also opened and operated the Life Saver Christian Bookstore in 1973, the only Christian bookstore in the area at that time. After selling their businesses, Derl helped Gladys return to college and obtain her teaching degree. During this time, he also took seminary classes at Carson-Newman College through the Southwestern Theological Seminary.

A Christian commitment was part of Derl’s life from the time he was a young boy when he was baptized and became a member of Cobbs Creek Baptist Church. The very first week after he and Gladys were married, they began attending Roan Creek Baptist Church. In 1963, he was ordained as a Deacon. He later served as a lay minister in almost every capacity in the Church, including Sunday School Superintendent, Music Director, Vacation Bible School Director, and worked on building and nominating committees. He was also active in the Watauga Baptist Association, serving on a variety of committees as well as the Executive Board. He also served as Moderator for two terms.

In 1990, Derl was ordained as a Baptist minister. His first church was State Line Baptist Church in Laurel Bloomery, where he served until 1997. After a successful recovery from heart bypass surgery, he was called as pastor of Roan Creek Baptist Church (home church) and served until 2002. It was during this tenure that Roan Creek built a new, modern house of worship. He subsequently served as minister at Shady Valley Baptist Church (2004-2006) and Bethel Baptist Church (2008-2012). Following his final retirement from the ministry in 2012, Derl returned to Roan Creek Baptist Church as served as a leader of nthe Young at Heart Club until 2017. He also continued to minister to former congregational members, friends and family (sometimes delivering one of his delicious home baked cakes) and was always available to anyone who asked him for help or prayers.   He was affectionately known by children as “The Bubblegum Preacher,” because he always carried some gum in his pocket to share with them.

He and Gladys also shared their faith with others through Baptist mission work. In 1977, they took their family to Florida during Christmas to help conduct a Vacation Bible School for the children of migrant workers. This led to many more mission trips; they coordinated and participated in more than 25 mission trips all throughout the United States with members of their various church families.

Over the years, Derl was a leader in numerous civic and community organizations. His first community service project was Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 27 at Butler. Later when he moved to Mountain City, he organized the first Boys Scout Troop in the Shouns Community – Troop 127, served on the Executive Scout Council and is a Life Sustaining Member of the Sequoyah Council of Boys Scouts. In 1967, he helped organize the Johnson County Rescue Squad and later served on the Board of Directors. As a young businessman, he was also a member of Volunteer Fire Department, and over the years he has been actively involved with the Rotary Club, American Legion, United Fund, the Chamber of Commerce, and Gideons International. He was a 50-year-plus member of Masonic Order 679 and a 32nd degree Mason, and he was an honorary member of the Knights Historical Society. In 1978, he was named a National 4-H Alumni Award winner, and he was named Johnson County Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 1985.

Other community involvement included the Governor’s Task Force on Education, Upper East Tennessee Task Force on Community and Economic Development, Tennessee Homecoming ’86 Vision Committee, Carson-Newman Vision ’80 Campaign Fund Committee, 1983 Old Butler Reunion Committee, State Highway Feasibility Study Committee and Carson-Newman President’s Club. He also served as Campaign Manager for Barton Hawkins in his race for 4th District State Representative, and he was a member or the Elizabethton Federal Advisory Board.

Derl loved to play golf, a game he continued to play most of his life. A highlight of his life was playing on the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland – where he shot par on the front nine holes. He felt extremely fortunate to have played golf locally with the same group of men for many years. Derl also enjoyed collecting and restoring cars. He was a self-taught Civil War scholar, having ancestors who served on both sides of the War. And, he loved music and singing. He also enjoyed traveling. One of his goals as a young man was to see the entire United States, and over the course of his lifetime he visited 48 states. He also made trips to Egypt, Greece, Israel, Jordan, Scotland, England, Mexico and Canada.  

Derl once summarized his success in life as follows, “I owe everything I am and have to God. He has given me good health and He has blessed me with opportunities. Then I owe a great deal to my good wife who has been a faithful companion and helper….”

Derl and Gladys were married for almost 52 years. She passed away in 2015. Derl was also preceded in death by two brothers, Glen (“Bud”) McCloud and William (“Bill”) McCloud; and a sister, Peggy McCloud Jump. Derl is survived by two daughters, Alesia McCloud-Chan of Denver, CO and Teresa McCloud Chaplain of Zionville, NC and four grandchildren: David and Andrew Chan and Jonathon (wife, Carmen) and Jessica Chaplain. He is also survived by son-in-law, Paul Chan; sister, Jackie Warden; brother, Jerry McCloud (wife, Margaret); sister-in-law Jewel Dean McCloud; sister-in-law Laura Davis (husband, Charles), and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and other special family members and friends.

Friends and family paid their respects to Mr. McCloud on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 from 12:00-6:00 p.m. at Mountain City Funeral Home. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic the McCloud family could not join at that time, but appreciated all thoughts, prayers and the love that you have shared with Derl and Gladys over the years. A private graveside service will be held at Pleasant Grove Church Cemetery. Condolences may be sent to the family through our website at www.mountaincityfh.com

The family of Derl Harry McCloud has entrusted his services to Mountain City Funeral Home, 224 S. Church Street, Mountain City, Tennessee 37683.