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Museum interim director named

In the wake of Doris Woods Owens’ recent retirement as Farragut Folklife Museum director, members of the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen have appointed museum committee member Mike Karnitz as interim museum coordinator.

Director of Leisure Services Sue Stuhl said the Town is contemplating making the position of museum director a paid, rather than a volunteer, position.

“We are working on updating the mission statement and creating a job description. We will take that job description to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and they will look at it and give their thoughts on it,” she added.

Karnitz said he would not apply for a paid position, saying simply, “I am retired.”

Reticent to talk about himself, Karnitz said he is only trying to keep momentum going and preserve the achievements of past museum contributors such as Owens, Bill Dunlap and Frances Able, whom he said built the museum to what it is today and still deserve all the credit.

“Each committee member is taking on certain responsibilities,” he said. “Libbie Haynes is putting together a presentation for Black History Month, and Bob Linsell worked really hard to put together the Battle of Campbell Station presentation we had this week. That is how we are all trying to fill in for Doris,” he added.

He said he was surprised when asked to take on the responsibility of interim coordinator.

“I thought they would choose someone like Malcolm Shell or Libbie Haynes,” he said. “Someone who grew up in this area. I am relatively new, I have only been here 32 years.”

Karnitz said he moved to the area in the mid 1970’s after accepting a position at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

“I moved here from Western Michigan, the Grand Rapids area. I went to school at Michigan State, that is where I got my [doctorate] in engineering,” he said.

Karnitz worked for 32 years at ORNL in the energy conservation field before retiring as a deputy director.

“I had always been interested in this museum, but I traveled so much with my job that I was never able to volunteer.

“I had lunch with [Mayor W. Edward] Eddy Ford about once a month, he was a deputy director there at the time and he would update me on the things that were happening in the community and always encouraged me to volunteer.

“A few months before I retired I decided to become a museum docent and give back to the community a little bit,” he said.

After retirement, with a little more time on his hands, Karnitz applied to become a member of the museum committee and was appointed by FBMA.


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