Gable Willis wins state SAR oratory contest

By LARRY C. BOWERS
Posted 4/3/18

Walker Valley High School senior Gable Willis received a taste of public speaking in his elementary grades, competing in the annual Bradley County 4-H Club Public Speaking competition.That experience …

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Gable Willis wins state SAR oratory contest

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Walker Valley High School senior Gable Willis received a taste of public speaking in his elementary grades, competing in the annual Bradley County 4-H Club Public Speaking competition.

That experience has benefited him through his high school years, he feels, and recently earned  the University of Alabama scholarship recipient a state title for his oratory skills.

Willis was selected as Tennessee  Sons of the American Revolution Oratory Champion at the SAR state convention in Knoxville recently. 

He will be representing Cleveland and Bradley County, Cleveland's Col. Benjamin Cleveland SAR Chapter, and Tennessee SAR chapters in competition at the SAR National Convention in Houston, in July.

In a visit to the offices of the Cleveland Daily Banner, Gable talked about the pride he feels in earning the honor, saying he is looking forward to the national competition.

"Not all of the nation's SAR chapters will be represented at the convention, but there will be quite a few," Willis said. 

The oratory competition (the Joseph Rumbaugh National Oration Contest)  is an area where the Sons of the American Revolution chapters are placing an emphasis, especially the Cleveland chapter.

It is hoped it will generate more interest in the nation's history, especially the history of the Revolutionary War,  for high school students.

Joe Brock has been designation as the contest chairman for the Col. Benjamin Cleveland Chapter, and is working closely with Willis — this year's chapter and state winner.

Willis noted his interest in history, his favorite subject at Walker Valley under teacher Ann Pickens.

The soon-to-be graduate of Walker Valley also brings a little family history along with his preparations for the national SAR event — his name.

His parents, Anne and Shawn Willis, pointed out that their son's first name comes in a round-about way from Hollywood film history. His mother said her father resembled 20th century movie legend Clark Gable, thus her son's first name.

Willis also has a distinct advantage for the national SAR competition, which probably  none of his opponents will have. He will be able to lean on the expertise of a former SAR oratorical champion. Cleveland SAR member Dennis Purvis was named as the winner of the SAR Oratory Contest in 1993, when he competed at the national event in Pheonix.

"He will be able to tell me what to expect, help me with the preparation of my speech, guide me on what the judges will be anticipating, and help me with my delivery," said Willis.

The Walker Valley senior has been involved in a number of activities though high school, participating in the Constitution Bowl at Lee University, was a youth deputy for Bradley County Trustee Mike Smith, joined classmate Hunter Shamblin in representing Bradley County at the Student Congress on Policy and Education in Murfreesboro, and enjoyed his history classes.

He plans to major in political science at Alabama, and hopes to  be involved in government or the court system. He said his "dream" job would be to one day be a member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

His win at the Tennessee SAR Oratory Contest could be a precedence for his family. His sister, Virginia, hopes to compete next year.

Perhaps she will follow in the steps of the National SAR Oratory Champion.

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