Remembering Wendell H. Ford (1924-2015)

Wendell H. Ford Bust at Daviess Co. Courthouse. Nate Kissel.
I, along with the rest of the Commonwealth, learned this morning of the passing of one of Kentucky's political greats of the 20th century. Wendell H. Ford was 90. In 2012, NRK wrote Along the Elkhorn Vale about the former Kentucky Governor and US Senator and revised excerpts from that post are included below:

Although it would have been fitting to place the bust of Wendell H. Ford anywhere in the Commonwealth, it appropriately sits on the courthouse lawn in Owensboro. Wendell H. Ford was born in Owensboro in 1924.

From 1967-71, he served as the Lieutenant Governor during the administration of Gov. Louie Nunn. He was then elected Governor, serving from 1971-1974. From the Governor's Mansion, Ford ran for and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974. Ford, a Democrat, served Kentucky in Washington from 1974 until 1999. His service was marked with stints as both minority and majority whip.

Ford was born in Daviess County in 1924. After serving in the Army, he went to school and entered the insurance business with his father. Ford then entered politics by serving as an executive assistant for Governor Bert T. Combs. For a short time, Ford served in the state senate before being elected Lieutenant Governor in an era when the Governor and his Lieutenant were separately elected. This resulted in the unusual situation where Gov. Nunn, a Republican, had Lt. Gov. Ford, a Democrat, a heartbeat away from the Governors Mansion. During his time as Lieutenant Governor, Ford essentially rebuilt the organization of the Democratic party in the Commonwealth.

Mayor Gray: Lexington's rich past will inform and inspire our future

Discussing Lost Lexington with Mayor Gray in City Hall. Mayor's Office
In the nearly two and a half centuries since Lexington was founded in 1775, this once-frontier settlement has grown into a flourishing city of more than 300,000 residents. It has produced some remarkable landmarks and people. These entrepreneurs, intellectuals and civic leaders had the imagination and vision that helped make Lexington what it is today: a city that embraces new ideas and innovation while valuing its rural landscape and authentic past. ... As Lexington continues to reinvent itself, it is the city’s unique and rich past that will inform and inspire its future.
I was honored that Lexington's Mayor Jim Gray penned the words to the foreword of my book, Lost Lexington. In a few paragraphs, he synopsed the entire text with those inspirational words for the future. Best of all, Mayor Gray wasn't just paying lip service to historic preservation and a dynamic future for Lexington that honors its "unique and rich past." His commitment was a hallmark of his first time as mayor and was on display yesterday during his State of the Merged Government Address (link to full text).

Discovering The Trails of Jessamine County

Kentucky River winding through the Bluegrass. Author's Collection.
Of the Bluegrass region, J. Soule Smith wrote in his “Bluegrass Region of Kentucky in 1898”:
The best part of it winds the Kentucky River, which has cut its deep bed into the soft rocks there hundred feet below the surface, and presents its picturesque cliffs in many featured crags as sentinels over the wimpling waves below ... It is near to Heaven and most blest of all the earth.

If you’ve spent time in the Palisades, either kayaking the waters of the Kentucky River or hiking above or below the cliffs, you have personally witnessed the blessed place we live in. Or perhaps you’ve seen the sun rise or set over the rolling Bluegrass hills on a Jessamine County farm with centuries-old trees dotting the landscapes.

Yes, we are fortunate to live in such a beautiful place. But, too often, many of us are confined to our daily urban and suburban patterns. Getting out into nature is a treat, one made easier with publicly accessible trails.

Trails come in a wide variety. Some require great energy and involve steep grades, while others are paved and easily accessible by those of all abilities.

Some of the region’s best-known public trails include those at Lexington’s 734-acre Raven Run. Across the Kentucky River from Jessamine County are a series of nature preserves along the Palisades and separating the counties is the Kentucky River Blueway Trail along Jessamine County’s 42-mile waterfront.

'Madam Belle: Sex, Money, and Influence in a Southern Brothel' Reviewed

Belle Brezing died in 1940 and her business had closed some twenty-three years earlier. Despite the passing of years, Ms. Brezing remains in the conscience of Lexington and a part of our communal lexicon.

Last year, Maryjean Wall's Madam Belle: Sex, Money, and Influence in a Southern Brothel was published and the book is filled with colorful and illustrious characters just as were Brezing's brothels. Wall tells the story of a business-savvy woman who had risen from the most difficult of circumstances.

Belle's first sexual encounter was with Dionesio Mucci; both lived in the Western Suburb, but they were not contemporaries. Belle was only 12 years old, while Mucci was in his thirties. By the age of 15, Belle was both an orphan and a mother with "few prospects for the future."

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