Fmr. state Sen. ‘Gentle Ben’ Atchley, dies


A former Tennessee state Senator who represented East Tennessee for over 30 years died Wednesday.

Former Republican state Sen. and Knoxville native Ben Atchley died Wednesday. Atchley, known as ‘Gentle Ben’, spent two terms in the house and fourteen in the Senate throughout his 32-year career in Tennessee’s congress.  

He retired in 2003. Atchley served as a Senate minority and majority leader throughout his tenure as well as caucus chairman in the Senate. 

Atchley was a veteran of the United States Naval Reserve. He graduated from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 1958.

He is survived by his wife Sue and their two children, Cindy and Jerry. 

Services are being handled by Berry Funeral Home. A graveside service is November 18 at 1 p.m. at New Prospect Presbyterian Church in Knoxville. Visitation is from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Graystone Presbyterian Church on Woodlawn Pike, which will be followed by a Celebration of Life.

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