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"A phenomenon. The definitive book
that unravels the curious web of this city."

Foreword by Gordon Wetmore


I remember well the day in 1969 when I gained a commission to paint President Richard Nixon. I was 31 years old, and the moment permanently shaped my career. For Dean Arnold, this extraordinary project is likely to do the same.

I know Dean well. We have worked together and been good friends for a decade. I was honored to be asked to join several of many fine artists in Chattanooga to provide artwork for his book. 

Dean Arnold the journalist has been after the true story for as long as I have known him. He brings the vantage point of a neutral observer, born elsewhere. He says what he thinks but is willing to admit when he is wrong. He has marched for causes, muckraked, and generally stirred things up.

Over the years I have observed a profound evolution. Learning and experiences have made him more seasoned, deliberate and benevolent. A widely read historian, he made himself an authority on the Native Americans in this area. Intrigued that Chattanooga became one of the wealthiest communities and reached the top of the list in charitable giving, he resolved to interview fifty of its most prominent individuals and learn about their ancestors. He knew it would make a good story. Of great significance was their almost universal willingness to level with him. Largely because of this fact—and Dean’s long established objectivity—the following pages have the unmistakable ring of truth. The resulting work has become a phenomenon, the definitive book that unravels the curious web of this city.

The narrative is enormously interesting, particularly to me. When I came here from Memphis to attend the University in 1962, I landed right in the middle of this local stage and its principal cast of characters. For five years I was one of the students who ministered to the youth at First Presbyterian Church, and my young parishioners were the scions of these high achievers. Several of them grew to become interviewees for this book. I wish there had been such a manual back then so I could have understood and appreciated the interesting, even historic, situation I had stumbled upon.

I have painted the portraits of a number of those interviewed, including prep school founder J. Park McCallie and Ambassador, Senator, and Labor Secretary Bill Brock. When painting these local legends or great names like Nixon, Princess Grace, or Norman Vincent Peale, one of my great privileges is to sit and converse with such people. My favorite question is, “Tell me how all this came to be?” In this way I appreciate how much Dean Arnold must have enjoyed his interviews. The answers are riveting. You will enjoy every page of his masterful storytelling. 

Gordon Wetmore
Portrait Society of America