KINGSPORT — Frank Brogden, a corporate and community leader who served Kingsport in a variety of roles for more than 50 years, has passed away.
Brogden, 86, was retired from Eastman Kodak, but he had also been on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. He was a distinguished lifetime member of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce. He might be best known to a number of people as serving in the role of “Santa” on the Kingsport Santa Train for two decades.
“I remember him as the first Eastman president of the Chamber of Commerce,” Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips said of Brogden. “I remember the hours and hours we worked together on various projects in economic development... Most of all I remember him as a dear friend and a man who contributed as much as anyone I know to the city of Kingsport. He will be missed by every person who knew him. My condolences go out to his family. He was a giant of a man in Kingsport.”
Paul Montgomery, vice president of community relations and corporate services at Eastman Chemical Co., said, “I’ve always admired Frank’s professionalism and sincerity while at Eastman, as well as during his service as city alderman. That professionalism taught us the way we do community relations today.”Former Kingsport Mayor Hunter Wright, who served with Brogden on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in the 1980s, noted: “(Brogden) contributed in so many ways to Kingsport...He was active in the chamber. He was always very conscientious of what he was doing, and was very effect doing it.”
Kingsport Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Miles Burdine said Brogden was a true example of “The Kingsport Spirit.”
“Although he can never be replaced, Frank successfully worked to encourage others who could and would,” Burdine said. “He constantly nurtured and encouraged others to become leaders and supporters of those in need. Frank led by example. He never asked anyone to do anything that he had not already done or was willing to do himself. He was involved in and/or led just about every community improvement effort of his time and he did so without any expectations of a pat on the back. Frank planted many trees under which others now enjoy the shade. And he really never did quit working for our community. As recent as a few months ago, he was still volunteering, still improving the lives of others. When Frank entered the room and he smiled and his deep voice offered a sincere greeting, everyone present was uplifted and good things began to happened.
“If there ever was a man who lived by the mantra ‘Never above you. Never below you. Always beside you’.....that man was Frank Brogden. Dang, I will miss him.”
He also chaired Fun Fest in 1986 and was a director of the Upper East Tennessee Human Development Agency.
At the state level, Brogden chaired the State Health Facilities Commission and was a member of the State Water Quality Control Board.
A U.S. Navy veteran, Brogden graduated from Tusculum College in 1950 and was a life trustee at the school. He had served as admissions director following graduation and before he went to work with the Tennessee Eastman division of Eastman Kodak.
Brogden was a member of the Kingsport Kiwanis Club and active member of First Broad Street United Methodist Church.
Survivors include his wife, Rolien; two sons, Bob Brogden of Auburn, Wash., and Russell Brogden of Kingsport; daughter Kathyrn Allen of Knoxville; and nine grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Monday at 1 p.m. at First Broad Street United Methodist Church with visitation happening afterward.
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