Cruze, Majors and Lawson, Lift David McMahan’s Spirits!

David McMahon

In today’s fast paced (as fast as it can be at our age) world, it is truly heartwarming to see friends and acquaintances rally around a hurting brother. Well, it was not surprising when we saw this happen recently with some East High graduates.

Hundreds at least, and probably more, have been humbled and blessed to see a great friend, David McMahan, struggle with the insidious disease of cancer. This blessing has come frequently in recent months as we have heard David and his wife, Ardue, praise our creator God, for the gift of life even as David’s strength was ebbing away. I have choked back tears numerous times as I read David’s words of praise in the midst of his intense pain. Other readers also walked away uplifted to see his courage and hope for the future. He has consistently reminded us that his hope is in Christ, and none other.

As many who grew up in Knoxville, David is a fan of Volunteer football. David’s youth in the 50’s was a time that the Vols were at or near the top of college football. The 1956 team held a special place David’s heart…so much so, he had put together a voluminous scrapbook of that incredible year.

A few days ago I received a note from Cindy Prince Lacy about a lunch given recently in David’s honor. His life long friend and East graduate, David Lawson, had arranged a get-together of McMahan’s family and some friends.

Realizing his friend’s love of the ’56 team…especially Johnny Majors and EHS graduate Buddy Cruze, Lawson asked these


two Tennessee icons to join the group as special guests, honoring McMahan. They graciously accepted.

David Lawson

As they looked through a scrapbook David had created of this SEC Championship team, Majors and Cruze provided a narrative of the photos for David and all the guests at the luncheon. No stranger to medical issues in recent years, Cruze told me today how impressed he was with the abiding faith of the McMahan family.

WBIR TV in Knoxville filmed a portion of that memorable day. To view the clip click here.

In 1956, both of these Vols were named to the Look magazine All American team, which was introduced by Perry Como on national TV a few weeks before Tennessee’s appearance in the 1957 Sugar Bowl. Searching through the archives, I found this clip (click here).

The following is a 7+ minute clip of Tennessee’s 27-7 victory over Vandy in the final regular season game played by Majors and Cruze.

Buddy Cruze

Johnny Majors

It was, arguably, one of the best games played by either in their stellar careers. Buddy has been treated medically at Vanderbilt hospital numerous times in recent years. He claims that he did not use an assumed name when he registered at the hospital, even though he had been a big reason that the Vols won the Vandy game on that cold December 1 game at Dudley Field.

Further back in history, here is a great clip of John Majors telling about coming to UT in the fall of 1952.

I hope these comments, photos and film clips brighten David’s day as he has continually brightened our lives. God Bless David Lawson, Buddy Cruze, John “Drum” Majors and all the McMahan family. You are in our prayers.

(Editor’s note: David McMahan passed away on May 6, 2013)


  1. John. Blanc on April 2, 2013 at 8:39 am

    A very very enjoyable write up, keep up the good work.

  2. Micki Morton Shipe on April 2, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Good job pulling it all together,Ross..I think it was a true Mountain top experience for all of them….Happy Spring to you and Lynne..

  3. Barbara Parkhurst Wilson on April 2, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Heart-touching tributes – that was such a loving idea to bring them together. Wonderful
    to see those clips – and fun to hear many names on the Perry Como special that became so
    well-known as great professionals. God bless David and his family.

  4. charley bishop on April 2, 2013 at 10:38 am

    great report ross. it’s wonderful the love being poured out to david and his family. coach majors, buddy and others. as i understand, “golden boy” had a hand in this. you’re a good man, david.

  5. Linda Lawson Scherer on April 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Enjoyed this SO very much. So gratifying to see all of this come together. I’ll never forget “trying” to tag along with “the DAVIDS” when I was a kid. David , you and your wonderful family will remain in my prayers. May God hold you in the hollow of his mighty hands, and continue to comfort you .

  6. Patricia (Patsy) Ressler Riggins on April 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    This is indeed a small world. Bill’s Uncle and Aunt lived in Lynchburg at the same time as the Majors’ family and John knew their son, Ben, very well. Aunt Glendon taught first grade and I am not sure whether she taught any of the Majors’ boys or not. Uncle M.P., served as judge for a while. They both followed the football careers of all of the Majors. Then, we knew Buddy Cruze at East where Bill played on the basketball team. The son of Cartha Lynn, Buddy’s sister, bought my mother’s house on Buffat Mill Road. Can you believe such coincidences? If there are in fact coincidences; God works in mysterious ways. Such fine men and how honored we are to know them as well as David McMahan and David Lawson.

  7. Ron Goodlin on April 2, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Thanks Ross, I also worshipped the Vols in those days. Can’t remember the local radio announcer of their games… maybe Lindsey Nelson…but he added to the excitement.

    Also, a few years later, I enjoyed watching people bounce off Glenn Glass, as he broke tackles.

  8. Ross on April 3, 2013 at 12:31 am

    From 1952 through 1964, George Mooney was the Volunteer football announcer. He is famous for starting the Vol Navy, the cadre of boats carrying UT supporters and parking on the river below Estabrook Hall at the South end of the Stadium. His famous phrase was…”it may or it may not be a first down.” His sidekick and color announcer was Bob Foxx, SEC MVP in 1939 as a wingback at Tennessee. Mooney and Foxx were at the mike when Wayne Grubb, Bill Majors and Charlie Severance stopped Billy Cannon’s 2-point conversion attempt in Tennessee’s 14-13 upset of LSU in October of 1959

    In 1965, John Ward replaced Mooney and Tennessee receiver Bill Anderson joined the team as the color man. Ward had previously done Tennessee basketball games with Lowell Blanchard. Ward’s patented football phrases were, “It’s football time in Tennessee,” and “give him six, touchdown Tennessee.” “Bottom,” was the basketball phrase for which he was famous. Ward and Anderson worked together for 31 years, the most of any college football announcing team in history. They retired in 1999.

    Bob Kessling replaced Ward and Tim Preist replaced Bill Anderson. They have been the Vol Network announcing duo since 2000.

  9. Carolyn Heiskell Phillips on April 5, 2013 at 12:30 am

    FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful stories!

  10. Cindy Prince Lacy on May 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    I apologize to be so tardy in checking into all of your updates and especially failing to make comments. You are a walking historian and must work tirelessly to post and enhance your web site. What you do just causes all EHS classmates and friends as well as other schools now to become nostalgic over those good old days that will never be again anywhere near the same in our lifetime. The information you provide is so vast now with the inclusion of other Knoxville schools.
    I laughed when Charlie Bishop referred to David Lawson as the “golden boy.” I only found out last night from David about that reference in high school but if I knew it then I forgot it!
    Continue to enlighten us!

  11. Brady on May 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Ross, as a ” hate anything orange fan” I must hand it to you for what you do for your alma mater. What you put together here is phenomanal. Thank you for your friendship.

  12. Douglas Wise on May 7, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    Ross thank you for what you do to keep some of the greatest memories in our lives fresh in our minds. Those were the “Good ole Days” for most of us and we thank you for reminding us how blessed we were to have lived in such a great period of American history and in such a wonderful place as Knoxville Tennessee. Thanks also for the fine job you did reporting I’m sure what must have been one of the top items on David’s “bucket list”. David was special to all of us but to me specially because he exemplified what a true Christian was and helped me to realize that although I admitted to be a Christian my life at that time did not refect what I professed. It was Davids life that helped in the process of changing my life to be more Christ like which eventually God used to bring me into a full time ministry as a pastor. Thanks again for you find work of keeping us posted concerning the events and people we know and love.

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