“A Man and His Bike” Exhibit on Earl Terrell

A special exhibit at the Museum of East Tennessee History through January 17 will remember the legendary life and legacy of Waymon Earl Terrell (1950-2015). Earl was well known to the Powell community, where he was regularly seen riding his bicycle and pulling a cart along the busy thoroughfares of Clinton Highway and Emory Road, his dogs often accompanying him. At his passing in December 2015, he left the legacy of a simple life, kindness, and decency.

"A Man and His Bike" on display in the lobby of the East Tennessee History Center.
November 5, 2022 to January 17, 2023
East Tennessee History Center Lobby

The display features Earl’s amazingly inventive bicycle and cart and will be on view in the lobby of the East Tennessee History Center. Earl Terrell could fix anything. Although he chose to live a solitary life, he was a well-recognized and accepted member of the community. Most days he could be seen along the highways looking for trash and other items from which he could earn money to buy food and supplies. His home was crafted of tarps, sticks, and scraps of metal that he had fashioned with homemade tools and scavenged parts. He was originally from Kentucky, served in the United States Marine Corps, and by his own word, had a master’s degree in economics before coming to Knoxville.

Kristen Gasnow Brown was a long-time friend of Earl’s and tended to him as his health began to fail. Realizing the community’s interest in Terrell, Brown launched a Facebook page, Loving Earl, to accommodate people’s well wishes, and soon there were 3,300 followers. After his death, the page helped raise money for his burial. His bicycle was on display when he was laid to rest.

The public is invited to bring personal care items to be donated to Knoxville Pays It Forward and food items to be donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee in Earl’s honor, and in return will receive one free museum admission per item. A list of needed items can be found below.

Knoxville Pays It Forward is a local non-profit that helps low income families, the homeless, the disadvantaged, and senior citizens in times of need.  Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee is a local non-profit that helps provide food for adequate nutrition for a healthy life for adults, seniors and children in 18 counties of East Tennessee in the fight to end hunger.