Former State Senator Ben Atchley passed away Wednesday night at the Life Care Center of Blount County at the age of 88.
He retired in 2004 after serving in both the state House and Senate for 32 years. Atchley retired from the Senate in 2003. He served as a State Representative from 1972 until his election as a State Senator in 1976.
Atchley’s time in the legislature spanned the terms of six governors, and he served 16 years as the Senate’s top-ranking Republican.
The state veterans nursing home in Knoxville and the South Knoxville Post Office are named after Senator Atchley, as are the James White Parkway Bridge over the Tennessee River, and the Tennessee Student Assistance Award Act, a program that provides grants to needy college students, was renamed the Ben Atchley Opportunity Act.
Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally of Oak Ridge released the following statement on Atchley’s passing: “Ben Atchley was the very definition of a statesman. He always did what was right and never sought credit for his accomplishments — which were many. He never shied away from hard decisions and his integrity was unquestioned. As Senate Republican Leader for 16 years, his work ensured Republicans had a seat at the table in the minority and laid the groundwork for our eventual majority. Both he and Sue provided the Senate and the Republican Party with so much and yet asked little in return. You can trace the lineage of all our success as a party and as a state back to the leadership he provided. He was a great man and a great senator. My heart goes out to Sue and the entire Atchley family in this time of mourning. Tennessee’s gentle giant has passed. I will miss him.”
Berry’s Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.