Brooks official confesses: I appointed cousin to cemetery committee
Bravo to Carolyn Cary for sounding a voice of reason amidst the recent brouhaha over Lee Hearn’s nomination of Addison Lester to the Election Board. The fuss, which she so eloquently derided, is much ado about nothing, a tempest in the proverbial teapot.
I’ve known Commissioner Lee Hearn as a fellow resident of the Brooks community for 15 years. I know him to be honest, community-minded, plain-spoken, and straight as an arrow.
I know Addison Lester only by reputation, which is excellent, and by the reputation of his old-line Fayette family, which is also beyond reproach.
How do I know this? My family, on both sides, is old-line Fayette, too; we all knew one another and had known each other’s families for generations in the days Mrs. Cary refers to: the days when Fayette’s population was under 10,000.
No finer folks than the Bennett-Graham-Burch-Lester clan have ever lived here; Fayette is blessed to have had benefit of their presence and service since pioneer days. Maligning either gentleman in any way whatsoever is, in my judgment, unconscionable.
Sure, Mr. Hearn should technically have disclosed the relationship at the time of the nomination, but you know what? I believe him totally and completely when he says the issue of kinship didn’t cross his mind.
I believe him because I suppose I’m kin either by marriage or blood to anybody who’s kin to the Stinchcombs (my maternal grandmother’s family), and they’ve been in Fayette County so long (my 4-times great-grandfather Nathaniel Stinchcomb was drawn for jury duty in Fayetteville in 1830) and had so many children each generation that I have cousins on that side of the house who I don’t even realize are my cousins. So I could easily make the same mistake.
I’ve actually made a similar mistake, and now disclose it for the world to know: As mayor of Brooks (or maybe it was when I was a councilman, I don’t recall), I nominated my cousin Cathy Woods to serve on the town’s Cemetery Committee, and I failed to disclose that she’s my cousin.
For the record, one of my 4-times great-grandfathers on my dad’s side, Hillery Brooks (for whom our South Fayette village is named), was Cathy’s 3-times great-grandfather.
What degree of cousins that makes Cathy and me would give me a headache to figure, but the point is, who cares? I nominated the person I thought best for the job and she hasn’t disappointed. I know Lee Hearn did the same thing with respect to Addison Lester, and I know Mr. Lester will not disappoint.
So let’s please stop the nonsense, end this witch hunt, and get back to what’s important: trying to do what’s best for Fayette County.
I know Lee Hearn well enough to know he gives his best to everything he undertakes, and if Addison Lester is anything like his Bennett and Graham forebears, he does, too.
And incidentally, I’m not kin to either gentleman so far as I know (although my mother’s first cousin on the Stinchcomb side married Jim Minter’s first cousin on the Minter side, and Mr. Minter’s grandmother on the Harp side was a Burch, whose brother married Miss Nell Graham, who was a sister to Mr. Lester’s grandmother, Berta Graham Lester. Thus you can see just a glimmer of what Gordian knots these old Fayette kinships can be.)
May the Lord help us all if this continues to be re-hashed as an issue. It will mean that small-mindedness, mean-spiritedness, and downright hysteria have taken hold of Fayette County. I, for one, refuse to believe or accept that bleak outlook, and I stand staunchly behind Commissioner Hearn and Mr. Lester.