Retired Cleveland business leader Don Lorton will be the guest speaker at the annual American Patriot Lecture Series at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Cleveland Country Club. The public is invited to attend the event sponsored by Tennessee Christian Preparatory School.
The annual event serves as a reminder of what it means to be an American Patriot.
“Mr. Lorton was chosen because of his reputation as an outstanding, articulate community leader who loves God and loves his country,” TCPS community relations director Kris Berger said.
Lorton retired as acting president of Maytag Appliance Group after 39 years in the appliance industry. He was president of Jenn-Air Company in Indianapolis for 12 years before moving to Cleveland in 1991 to join Magic Chef as president.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland Mayor challenged TCPS students in 2012 to think about modern-day patriots like Mike Christian, as well as the founding fathers, when they pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.
Christian, along with U.S. Sen. John McCain, was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. The Cleveland mayor quoted a short excerpt from McCain’s book, “Faith of Our Fathers,” stating the Vietnamese allowed some prisoners to receive packages from home: “In some of these packages were handkerchiefs, scarves and other items of clothing. Mike got himself a piece of white cloth and a piece of red cloth and fashioned himself a bamboo needle. Over a period of a couple of months, he sewed the American flag on the inside of his shirt.
“Every afternoon, before we had a bowl of soup, we would hang Mike’s shirt on the wall of our cell, and say the Pledge of Allegiance. I know that saying the Pledge of Allegiance may not seem the most important or meaningful part of our day now, but I can assure you that — for those men in that stark prison cell — it was indeed the most important and meaningful event of our day.”
TCPS President Dr. Bill Balzano said last year the three foundational elements of early American education were based upon comprehensive learning, a classical educational paradigm; patriotism, the love of country; and faith, the love of God.
“Two of these have been attacked and are almost nonexistent in most schools,” Balzano said in 2012. “Tennessee Christian Preparatory School has an outstanding, comprehensive educational program and emphasizes strong academics, love of God, and love of country. Thus, we are here this evening to remind ourselves of what it means to be an American Patriot.”
Lorton, an Illinois native, is a four-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and a graduate of the University of Illinois. He continued his education to earn a master’s degree in business from Michigan State University.
He is a past president of Cleveland Associated Industries, the United Way of Bradley County, Goals 2002 and has served as a director of the Rotary Club of Cleveland. He recently was appointed to the United Way Executive Committee. He also serves as a deacon of First Baptist Church.
Lorton has earned several awards for his community service. United Way of Bradley County presented him the William F. Johnson Community Service Award in 1997. The Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce awarded him with the Distinguished Robert Varnell Leadership Award in 2006 for recognition of his volunteer activities and in 2009, TCPS recognized him with the Spirit of Service Award.
Lorton and his wife, Lila, have been married 56 years. They have four children and five grandchildren.