In life it is hard to say goodbye to friends whose influence and impact on others has been deeper than a friendship, but a lasting imprint on another’s life as a person of character and one who possesses a steadfast heart. Charles “Doc” Tennessen is one of the most unforgettable people it has been a pleasure for me to know in life and with an ounce of sadness due to him and wife Cora Sue moving to Texas, it is while visiting with the couple for this story the realization came to me that our lives are much bigger because of a shared faith we all three embrace as people. So, now it is known to me that as our similar roads in life meet a divide that one day they will join again at some point. That being shared, as a sports writer it came to my attention that our community is losing an asset in this couple – Charles, known by many of his friends as Chuck, for being an asset to the community in many ways as a trainer and active church member-and Cora Sue for her dedicated spirit as a restaurant entrepreneur and most importantly for her role in establishing children’s programs to share the gospel of Christ.
The road for Chuck Tennessen that led him to Frederick, Oklahoma has been one filled with a meaningful life that is foundational by faith, family and hard work. His first time as a member of the community was when he opened a chiropractic office in 1962, practicing until 1967 when he made a decision to further his education. He went to Southwestern Oklahoma State University for a degree in sports medicine and certificate as an athletic trainer. While at SWOSU he became an educator and taught kinesiology, also working for the university as an athletic trainer for five years. Notably at that time there was not anyone who practiced in the southwest area as a trainer. So, Chuck Tennessen gained a reputation as the first trainer in southwest Oklahoma. Schools from around the area flocked to the university with injured players who needed treatment and it was Charles “Doc” Tennessen who took care of their needs. After leaving the university, he became an employee of Hobart Public Schools, where he served as an athletic trainer and teacher of biology and physiology for 14 years. During his time at Hobart the athletic trainer worked with another former Frederick Public School employee, Rod Maynard. Tennessen started getting closer to Frederick, accepting a job as an athletic trainer and biology teacher at Altus Public Schools. He decided to retire at that time and during that period his wife of many years, Alana, died in a car accident in 1993. The athletic trainer then went to work for Jackson County Memorial Hospital’s physical therapy department. Tennessen met Cora Sue Kitchen, who was the owner/operator of Mr. Burger in Frederick. The two dated and after a period of time they united in marriage. Charles ‘Doc’ Tennessen moved to Frederick where he practiced as a chiropractor 1995-2000.
He was in Frederick during the Ed Jones era of high school football where the Frederick Bombers football team enjoyed multiple state championship titles in Class 3A. Also here at that time with Tennessen were two young coaches brought to Frederick by Ed Jones named Randy Biggs and Charles Roady. Randy Biggs is now Frederick High School Principal and Charles Roady is currently Frederick Public Schools Athletic Director. Tennessen has enjoyed a career that involved a productive work relationship with both Randy Biggs and Charles Roady. While he has lived here, there are many ways that Tennessen has laid roots in the community. He became an employee of Frederick Public Schools as an athletic trainer, working alongside physical therapist Ryan Ade. He is very thankful for the work relationship with Ryan Ade. According to ‘Doc’ Tennessen “We had a great work relationship. During football games we were in the locker room taping up players and something I’ve enjoyed is taking care of young players because they will keep you young.” The trainer also enjoyed several employment opportunities which included time working for Frederick Public Schools, but also as an assistant to physical therapist Ryan Ade at Memorial Hospital & Physician Group. Cora Sue also saw some changes in work, accepting a position as the Food Service Director for Frederick Public Schools, where she worked an estimated ten year period. Relationships in the community are also important for him. “I’ve had the opportunity to develop strong relationships with athletes. Friendships in this community are ones that are lasting for me, also. Discipline is also important because it helps each of us to become more productive people in life. But also, when someone plays ball, if you take the thorn out of their foot then they will bond with you and trust you. Many of these kids return and nurture the relationship as friends later on in life, which was started years earlier while they were still athletes and I was a trainer,” Tennessen said.
There have been some honors bestowed upon Charles Tennessen for his work as an athletic trainer. He was inducted by the Oklahoma Athletic Trainer’s Association into the organization’s Hall of Fame in 2001. As an educator he has been named in the past as a Teacher of the Year by Hobart Public Schools. Both Chuck and Cora Sue Tennessen have been very involved in church work. As members of the First Baptist Church, they coordinated and started Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed, also known as AWANA. It was a continuation of work for Cora Sue, who had previously served with pleasure as the church’s Sunday School Director.
In the past few years the couple did retire from each of their occupations and plan to enjoy their retirements with family. Chuck Tennessen has two daughters. Ginny Calhoun is the spouse of Rodney Calhoun and the couple are the parents of two children. Chuck’s other daughter is Tracy Coletti who is the spouse of Mike Coletti, and the couple are the parents of two children. Cora Sue Tennessen has three children, two daughters and one son. Her daughter Dede is the spouse of Darren Harrington and the couple are the parents of three children. Cora Sue’s daughter Heather Phenice is the spouse of Chris Phenice and the couple are the parents of three children. Cora Sue’s son, Donny, is the father of two children. As Chuck and Cora Sue told stories about their blended family, it became very evident that there is a foundation of love for the entire family and life known through the Tennessens’ core values as people of faith, embodied by hard work and dedication to succeeding in life with a spirit of steadfast strength provided by God. As a closing thought Chuck Tennessen expressed the sentiment that everyone has a gift in life and it should be used to the fullest capacity. It is true that Chuck and Cora Sue Tennessen have used their lives and compassionate hearts to be positive role models and people of character in an age when positive, genuine character is becoming less relevant. So, the legacy of Charles Tennessen isn’t just one of an athletic trainer, but a Frederick Bomber whose life is surrounded with family, values and most importantly love that he credits being sanctioned by the Lord.