Elder Calvin Gregory
Papers: Nashville Banner; Macon County Times, Lafayette
Elder Calvin Gregory touched the lives of literally thousands of persons in Smith and Macon counties as well as the Upper Cumberland area through his work as a minister, school teacher, political leader and editor and publisher of the Macon County Times, Lafayette. Gregory was born in Smith County, Tenn., and returned there to become a county school teacher after he had completed Bowling Green College. For the rest of his life he worked tirelessly to improve the way of life for people of his area.
A forceful, enthusiastic man, he never ran from responsibility or adversity. At the age of 23, when many young men had not yet started a family, he assumed the full responsibility for rearing his brothers and sisters after his parents died. He cared for their spiritual, educational and material needs until all were married and had left the family home.
But that did not divert him from an important mission in life--to bring the gospel to his fellow man. He became a well-known Missionary Baptist minister and revivalist, serving as pastor of more than 50 churches in Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky. At one point in his career, he was pastor of seven churches, setting their meeting dates to fit his busy schedule. His longest pastoral assignment was with the Mace Hill Baptist Church, which he helped organize. He served as its pastor for the last 40 years of his life.
He moved to Lafayette in 1930 and purchased half interest in the Macon County Times. Seven years later he assumed full control of the newspaper. Under his direction the newspaper's circulation grew to more than 4,000, making it the third largest weekly in the state at that time. In addition to writing and editing his own newspaper, Gregory served for many years as correspondent for the Nashville Banner.
At one time, he also was an agent in Macon, Smith and Trousdale counties for the Newspaper Printing Corp. He took special pride in his weekly "Cal's Column," a popular genealogical feature that even today is remembered by countless residents.
Twice during his 30 years as editor, the Macon County Times was destroyed by fire. Although he had no insurance, he managed each time to continue to publish without missing an issue and to rebuild the plant. Despite such setbacks, he continued his tireless efforts to serve his community because he believed an editor should back up his editorial calls for public service with personal service as well.
He rarely refused a request to serve his community whether in his editorial columns or in person. He was a member of the Quarterly Court for more than 20 years and when dial telephone service first became available to the Upper Cumberland area, he was elected president of the North Central Telephone Cooperative; which served some 6,000 customers.
His editorials covered every field of human concern but he concentrated in particular on education and campaigned vigorously for a badly needed new high school building in Lafayette. And he reinforced the campaign from his position on the Quarterly Court. The school became a reality. In tribute to the man who had touched their lives in so many ways, more than 5,000 fellow citizens and friends attended his funeral, which was held in the high school building he was instrumental in obtaining for the community.