Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hazard, Ky., says goodbye to Bill Gorman, mayor 42 years and an Appalachian icon

Perhaps the most durable and emblematic public official in Eastern Kentucky, Hazard Mayor Bill Gorman, was eulogized by the powerful and honored by the downtrodden as he went to his grave yesterday after almost 43 years as mayor. Gorman died Saturday at 86. He was an insurance agent and started the town's television station, which became WYMT and a beacon for the region. "He staunchly defended Eastern Kentucky from attacks and stereotypes," reports Dori Hjalmarson of the Lexington Herald-Leader. (Associated Press photo by Shawn Poynter)

"People lined the streets of downtown to pay their final respects to the longtime Mayor as the procession traveled through," reports Ivy Brashear of The Hazard Herald. "Two fire trucks were positioned next to Triangle Park, ladders up, with American flags hanging from the ladders, waiting for the procession to pass between them. The hearse carrying Gorman’s casket stopped under the ladders as Hazard High School’s band played music for the Mayor one last time." (Herald photo by Cris Ritchie)

The eulogists were Kentucky's main appropriators in Congress, Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Hal Rogers, who won laughs when he quoted Gorman as saying "A vision without funding is a hallucination." He said Gorman's last words to him were "Take care of my city." (Read more) Hjalmarson writes that McConnell first met Gorman as a young Republican campaign volunteer in 1968, after being told to look him up. "He was the guy, they said. And they were right," he said, and 42 years later, "He was still the guy." (Read more)

Gorman “helped turn the struggling coal town into a regional hub,” Joseph Gerth wrote for The Courier-Journal. "Although he had been critical of movies that had stereotyped the people of Eastern Kentucky, he welcomed to the state a planned HBO production, "The Kentucky Cycle." Gorman said at the time that Eastern Kentucky can't afford to chase away every film that offends its sensibilities: “We told them we didn't like their program but we like their money. I don't agree with it. I don't approve of it, but I'm not stupid enough to say it wouldn't be done.” (Read more)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A great man. He will be missed, his vision and leadership was invabluable to Perry County and Hazard. An unabashed advocate for his community and a genuine character, they dont' make them like Bill Gorman any more.