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Anne White-Scruggs


Anne White-Scruggs, potter and owner of Bell Buckle Crafts, formerly of Bell Buckle, Tennessee, died unexpectedly Friday, October 30, 2020 at her home in Knoxville, Tennessee with her husband Bob and Hannah, their dachshund, by her side. Her health, including especially her mobility and vision, had been recently declining. She is survived by her husband, Bob, and her three children: Kreis (Jennifer) White, George (Rosemary) White, and Lisa White (Dan Butler), as well as by Bob’s children: Fabienne (Steve), Adrienne, and Chrissy (Albert). Her gaggle of grandchildren (many who practically lived in her shop during summers and holidays) and her great-grandchildren have grown up surrounded by Anne’s pottery and her colorful artistic influences. Remembering their lifelong friendships are her friends Maggi Vaughn and Annie Rooney, both of Bell Buckle, as well as a host of other family members, honorary family members, artists, and art collectors far too numerous to list, but who she loved dearly all the same. And finally, Anne has always had a warm place in her heart for her Webb students, many who could not go home for every school holiday and would descend on her home for her warm hospitality. She loved to hear from them even after she retired.

Prior to moving to Bell Buckle in the mid-1970s, Anne was actively involved in the arts and crafts communities wherever she and her family lived, including in Great Falls, MT, Louisville, KY, and in Nashville, TN, where she worked at the Nashville Artist Guild Gallery, served on the board of Tennessee Craft (then TACA), and was a founder of the annual Centennial Park Spring Crafts Fair.

In about 1975, Anne moved from Nashville to Bell Buckle to teach art and pottery at The Webb School, and bought a then-abandoned downtown building for her own pottery studio, which quickly transformed into Bell Buckle Crafts. For many years, Anne devoted her creative mind and limitless energy to bring commerce back to Bell Buckle, concentrating especially on welcoming artists and craftpersons, as well as encouraging locals—like quilters and basket makers—to embrace the value of their artistry. She shared her experiences generously with beginning and accomplished artists, helping them become successful businesspeople in their chosen mediums. Anne was personally known for her quality pottery which was noted for both its usefulness and exquisite artistry. Much of her pottery went to distant countries and was sought by the home-folks as well. Her fun and quirky idea to paint a huge quilt on the parking spaces in front of her buildings in Bell Buckle in the early 1980s has become a focal point of the town. Ultimately, Bell Buckle has become a tourist destination and attracts visitors from many states and foreign countries.

In addition to her pottery, Bell Buckle Crafts, and her teaching, in 1976 Webb School’s Headmaster Jack Heffner asked Carol Price and Anne to plan some entertainment to coincide with Webb’s annual Board of Directors’ meeting and alumni weekend. Together, Carol and Anne planned the first annual Bell Buckle Webb School Art and Craft Festival, which grew over the past 44 years with the help of many others in the Bell Buckle community, including then-Webb student Elizabeth Huddleston who devoted much of her time to the early years of the festival. This festival has progressed from a small town gathering to one of the premier events of the southeastern region, with Anne as the director for many years. One of her early goals was for the Webb Festival to benefit the entire Bell Buckle community. This goal became a reality before she retired. She credits the Bell Buckle government, the merchants, and all the good residents who joined as a team that led to the remarkable renaissance of this railroad town of a time gone by.

In recognition of the importance of her lifelong contributions to Tennessee’s arts and crafts community, she was made an Honorary Member of the Tennessee Craft Organization and named a “Tennessee Treasure” by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

After her retirement, Anne and Bob moved to Melbourne, Florida for several years. She joined a pottery studio, and her son, George, a former Times-Gazette writer, became interested in pottery. Anne was excited to share her formidable experience and knowledge with him, inspiring George to become a serious potter. As her health declined, they collaborated on pottery with George throwing the pots and Anne carving them. To her delight, he is now an excellent and sought-after potter.

After a serious medical episode, Anne went to Knoxville to daughter Lisa’s home to recuperate. She counted her year living near Lisa and Dan as one of the best of her life, as she received “gentle and tender care.” Upon selling their Florida home, Bob joined her back in Tennessee.

Although there won’t be a formal memorial service for Anne at this time, her family has been blessed by a huge number of sympathy messages, which are a wonderful memorial in themselves to the respect and love which Anne enjoyed over the years. Her family hopes to gather with friends in Bell Buckle once covid-19 has safely passed, to celebrate her life and to reminisce about the days when the farmers became interested in pottery, when disabled-veteran Willie asked odd questions to every visitor, when Billy truly worked in Anne’s shop but was under 10 years old, when Anne would leave a note on her shop counter saying to come to the café for assistance, when the artists joined the townspeople and the Webb folks to perform Fiddler on the Roof, and oh so many more incredible memories.

Anne White-Scruggs’ legacy will live on, through the town of Bell Buckle, through her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and through each of you, her family and friends.