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1969-1971 Austin Letheridge "Chunk" Bender

A L Bender 1969(Lived June 6, 1916 – August 28, 1980)

Commissioner of Public Works and Vice-Mayor A.L. “Chunk” Bender assumed the office of Mayor on January 1, 1969, upon the resignation of Mayor Ralph Kelley.  Following four years of service during World War II, Bender returned to Chattanooga and became superintendent of city parks, a position he maintained until an unsuccessful bid for the county commission in 1955.  In 1958, County Judge Wilkes Thrasher brought Bender back into public service by appointing him county manager.  Upon the death of Public Works Commissioner Pat Wilcox in 1962, Bender was appointed to finish the term.    Commissioner Bender ran successfully for a full term in 1963 and was re-elected in 1967 without opposition.  Commissioner Bender received the largest percentage of votes among the other commissioners, and thus he became vice-mayor under Mayor Ralph Kelley. 

On December 3, 1968, Mayor Kelly announced his resignation, passing the office of Mayor to “Chunk” Bender effective January 1, 1969.  Due to ailing health and on his doctor’s advice, Mayor Bender resigned from office on January 26, 1971.

Photo by Phillip Stevens and Matt Lea