Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

REMEMBERING RICHARD: Appy Fair manager, county commissioner dies

On Monday morning, following the sudden death of longtime Appalachian Fair Secretary-Manager Richard Shadden, Peggy Cox found herself alone to answer the phone at the fairgrounds.
Shadden passed away unexpectedly at his home in Gray on May 21.
Shadden was 67 years old.
Cox is one of only three employees who work at the fairgrounds this time of year. The other two usually there are Shadden, who had managed the fair since 1987, and his wife, Sherry.
Cox, who has been with the organization for 21 years, said her friendship with Shadden had childhood roots.
“Richard and I went to school together since we were in the fifth and sixth grades at Fall Branch School,” she said. “He has always been a wonderful friend and he really hadn’t changed since he was in school — always happy, friendly, an all-around good guy.”
Shadden was born in Washington County and was a Washington County Commissioner. He was also a member of the Gray Ruritan Club, a 32nd degree Mason and a member of the Shrine Club.
He served on the Convention and Visitors Bureau of the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce, was a Director of the Tennessee Association of Fairs and a former President and Vice President of the Tennessee Fairs Association.
“It’s no surprise that he was so involved in the community and with a number of organizations,” Cox said. “Even in school, he was always involved in something. He played basketball and was in different clubs. He continued that throughout his life.”
Shadden’s absence will certainly be felt on the Appalachian Fairgrounds where he made a significant contribution for more than two decades. His leadership will be remembered by fellow staff members.
“We’ve just got to pick up from what he was doing,” Cox said. “We all have our own jobs and now we’ve got to pick up his. Hopefully we can remember and just go on.
“In both the community and here, he’s going to leave a big hole.”
Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge also remembers Shadden from as far back as his childhood, when Shadden and Eldridge’s father worked together.
“More than anything else, Richard was just a gentleman,” Eldridge said.
“He was truly community-minded, always willing to take an active part in anything that he thought would benefit the community.
“As a county commissioner, Richard was an excellent representative for the Gray community and the county as a whole. He was quiet, but a very thoughtful leader.”
Eldridge said he talked to several of the commissioners on Saturday morning.
“It was amazing to me that most of them, in the first two or three sentences, said the same thing – ‘Richard was one of the good guys,’” Eldridge noted.
“Everyone who knew Richard Shadden had the same perception of him – he was a good guy and we’re going to miss him.”