Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Tansi Smoke Signals

March 20, 2007

A delightful visit with Mrs. Charles O'Brien


The next morning she was in her office bright and early. At 7:15 a.m. her secretary came in and said, "Senator O'Brien is here to see you. You must have made quite an impression on him last night."

He came in, shut the door and said, "I invited you to go the Shelby County reception, but I've been thinking about that. With my vote on lieutenant governor and your brother being governor, well, I think it would be embarrassing." That's what Charles said, but Anna Belle thought he had a cute young thing lined up and wanted out of the date.

In classic Anna Belle fashion she told him, "Senator, you don't know me well, but when information is spread about me that is not true, it doesn't worry me. I did not know you at that time and had nothing to do with your vote. Therefore, I will expect you next Tuesday at 3:30 p.m." And that was the beginning of a beautiful romance. When he proposed in 1966, it was a particularly busy time for Anna Belle, so he made all the arrangements, even what she would wear. They were married on Nov. 9, at the Union Avenue Baptist Church in Memphis.

One day in the early '60s, Anna Belle, while serving as receptionist in the governor's office, saw a senator with a beautiful tan and commented that he must have been to Florida. To her surprise, he said it was not Florida but Lake Tansi. He told her about the nice cabins, reasonable rates and beautiful scenery. So about eight single girls began vacationing at Lake Tansi. It was the third year of the development by Cosby Harrison and they were practically giving away lots since not many had been sold. She bought a lot and built a small cabin. Her daddy came up with her and remarked, "You have always saved your money and wanted to build a little house like this, and if it suits you, fine, but you couldn't give it to me." She guesses the gravel road down to the lot didn't help matters. Three other girl friends bought lots close by. After Anna Belle and Charles married, they moved to Lake Tansi Village in 1967 and enlarged the cabin. She was thrilled because she never expected to be able to move to Tansi, a place she dearly loved. Charles opened a little law office in Crossville. They joined the Homestead Baptist Church. She couldn't sit around and do nothing, so she joined the Chamber of Commerce, the Democrat women and the Mental Health Association (included Hilltopper's and Kids, Inc.). After seven years, Charles said everywhere he went parents of kids wanted Anna Belle to run for public office. She said she wanted their marriage to work. Charles said it was part of her life — she believed in helping kids and he thought she ought to consider it. He realized she would be gone a lot and he might regret it, but he thought she should run. Then he told her, "Your biggest problem is being a woman. They have never had a woman from up here in the state legislature. You will just have to work hard; be a good loser if you lose; don't let it affect you." She didn't lose. She was elected to serve a two-year term in the Tennessee House of Representatives. Later, when she ran for the senate, she had a sign made for the top of her car, "About our district she will tell, Let's elect Miss Anna Belle." One day on the campaign trail she heard some men talking, "Hear Mrs. O'Brien is a nice lady, but we don't need a woman senator." They didn't have any idea she would campaign in garages, beer joints, pool halls, etc. She worked hard and they misjudged how hard she would work. She says she was never negative but dwelled on the positive.

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Tansi Smoke Signals
  • humvee 2a.JPG Tansi Security Police attains new equipment and new officer

    The Lake Tansi Security Police has acquired a trainee, new vehicle from the 1033 Program and body armor due to the generosity of the Rotary Club and VEC.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rec direc.JPG Tansi welcomes Medley as recreation director

    Lake Tansi has experienced a whirlwind of ups and downs in regards to retaining a recreations director. When Ken Soncrant resigned, POA Director Gary Dillon hired Betty Gates who had worked in recreations management at Fairfield Glade.

    June 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Epic Independence Day celebration set at Lake Tansi

    The Lake Tansi Recreations Department has planned an epic Independence Day celebration that will brighten the stars on your flags. The celebration will start Friday, July 4th and continue through the weekend with family friendly activities and entertainment that is inspired by classic Americana fun.

    June 25, 2014

  • toodle 2.JPG Tansi bids a bittersweet farewell to Brenda Toodle

    Brenda Toodle has made quite an impact on Lake Tansi in her nearly two decades of being a resident. Before her move back to Michigan, her many friends held a farewell reception on May 28 at the Thunderbird to send their best wishes with her.

    June 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tansi launches Operation Safe Community

    You may have heard that a neighborhood watch group is being established again in Tansi. After a recent break-in in our neighborhood, my wife, Paula, talked with Lt. Gary Howard of the Sheriff’s Department to see what we, as a neighborhood, could do to minimize crime in Tansi.

    June 25, 2014

  • Lake Tansi Golf Club honored for support of veterans

    Naval Master Chief Dennis Sassenger II, stationed in Hawaii, visited his father, our own Dennis Sassenger, in Lake Tansi. He was so impressed with the way he was treated as a guest and veteran at the golf course that he returned home and started the process of thanking us for the welcome and support he received.

    June 25, 2014

  • Lake Tansi celebrates Memorial Day in a big way

    Memorial Day is a time to reflect upon those of our fallen troops who gave their lives to preserve America’s values and freedoms. To those soldiers and their families we give our greatest admirations and deepest appreciation. Knowing what Memorial Day is about gives reason to pause, to pray and to share in those hard won freedoms with family and friends.

    June 25, 2014

  • Swim 1.JPG Never too soon to start water safety lessons

    Lake Tansi would like to encourage everyone who enjoys the water to play safely. Lake Tansi has such wonderful amenities, including the lake and pools, but playing it safe is better than not playing at all.

    June 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pan 1.JPG On the Hook with the Pan Fish Club

    Hook, line and sinker, the Lake Tansi Pan Fish Anglers Club has enjoyed the first half of its fishing season.

    June 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • The Mike Steinmann/Salvation Army Golf Tournament set for July 26

    The seventh annual Mike Steinmann/Salvation Army Golf Tournament is set for this year on Saturday, July 26 at the Lake Tansi Golf Course.

    June 25, 2014

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