Knox History: Kyle Testerman

Aug, 19 15 Post by: Amy

Kyle Testerman was a Knoxville native that overcame childhood polio to live an accomplished life as an athlete, business leader, lawyer and two-term mayor.

Melrose Avenue looking East Knoxville

He grew up on Melrose Avenue, which is in the University of Tennessee area. He attended Tyson Junior High School, Knoxville High School and later UT on a basketball and tennis scholarship where he earned his law degree.

City of Knoxville Photo.

City of Knoxville Photo.

Testerman was passionate about tennis and continued to play competitively as an adult. Wanting to unite sectors of the city through recreation he co-founded the Knoxville Racquet Club and helping in the development of the tennis courts at Tyson Park – now named the Kyle C Testerman Tennis Complex.

Tester man began his public service career as a young man servicing on the Knoxville City Council from 1969 to 1971. A year later in 1972 he became the city’s youngest elected mayor at the age of 35.

Testerman has left a lasting footprint on the Knoxville community. Accomplishments during his tenure include:

  • Rescuing the Knoxville Zoo from closure, early 1970s.
  • Bringing the 1982 World’s Fair to Knoxville.
  • Witnessing the signing of the Housing & Community Development Act by President Gerald Ford in Washington D.C. (The catalyst for the beautification of Gay Street, Market Square & Old City)
  • Led construction of the City & County Building & the TVA Towers.
  • With Dwight Kessel appointed the first Knoxville Coalition of the Homeless.
  • Passing the liquor-by-the-drink referendum.
  • Promoted city-wide diversity & established The Beck Cultural Exchange Center.
  • Instrumental in the funding and establishment of the Knoxville Museum of Art in its current location.
  • Consolidating the city & county public school system.

kyle-testerman2You can learn a little more about him in this WBIR video interview with Testerman’s son:


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