MOUNTAIN CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Johnson County residents are mourning the loss of one of their own.
Kevin Hampton, a criminal justice teacher at Johnson County High School, former warden at Northeast Correctional, and a native to the county, lost his battle to COVID-19 just a few days ago.
Hampton was 50 years old. His eldest son, William Blade Hampton, said his father was diagnosed shortly before Christmas time. He said this Christmas his father stayed home alone on oxygen, the first Christmas in his life the family spent without him.
Blade Hampton told News Channel 11 his father died Friday night, sending shockwaves through the community for those who knew him.
“For somebody that young and in pretty good shape, it’s still hard to believe,” said Johnson County High School Athletic Director Austin Atwood.
Atwood said he grew up with Kevin and they played basketball together for years — a sport Kevin excelled at, according to Atwood.
Atwood, the now current head basketball coach at the high school said Kevin would help the team from time to time and was an overall great asset to the school both on the court and in the classroom.
Blake Grindstaff said his friendship with Kevin spanned almost 40 years. He said they also met when they were younger and played high school basketball together.
Grindstaff said he left a lasting impression with everyone.
“Kids that are in their mid-20s now, went to college, came back, they are still talking about Kevin and running up to him and remembering the things that he taught them just about life,” Grindstaff said.
Blade Hampton said his father never met a stranger and although he officially began his teaching career just a few years ago, it was always inside of him.
“Whether it was sports or talking to people about life after prison or school, anything. He just loved to teach people and a lot of the time he didn’t even know he was teaching people, but he was teaching them all life lessons,” Blade Hampton said.
On Tuesday evening, a memorial was held for Kevin Hampton at the local funeral home. Grindstaff said in the summer months when it’s warmer, they will hold a service on the water since Hampton was an avid fisherman and loved the outdoors.
Overall, he’s remembered for the lessons he taught the children of Johnson County.
“He did a good job with the area kids,” Atwood said. “He’s from here, grew up here, and he’s going to be missed by a lot of people.”
Leon Henley, the principal at Johnson County High School sent us this statement regarding Hampton’s passing:
“We are truly heartbroken by the passing of Mr. Hampton. He has been a member of our longhorn community for many years and the last few as a teacher at Johnson County High School. He was loved by his students and was always excited about sharing what he was planning to teach in his criminal justice classes. This is a huge loss to our school and our community, his memory, and legacy will live in our hearts forever.”-Leon Henley
School Superintendent Mischelle Simcox sent News Channel 11 this statement:
“Kevin Hampton was a wonderful man who loved his job and loved working with the youth in Johnson County. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”-Mischelle Simcox
Grindstaff said Kevin Hampton will be remembered most for not the legacy he left on others, but his own family.
“He really cared for his parents, he helped his mom through some recent health issues and was always the first person to call and check on her. He’s leaving two amazing sons that not only look just like him but he’s instilled a lot of values in them that will benefit our area for years and years to come,” Grindstaff said.