By Carrie Dillard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
After a call for nominations and thoughtful debate, four Laurel Countians have been chosen to tell their life stories on behalf of the London’s Living Treasures project, sponsored by London Downtown.
Over the next two months, the stories of Finley Baker, Billie Ridings, Bill Brooks, and Beulah Cassidy will be recorded and preserved in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. They will also be featured in The Sentinel-Echo.
Baker is a World War II veteran and coal miner. Above all, he is a family man and a devoted husband. His great-granddaughter, Chelsea Philpot wrote, “What stands out most to me is the love and compassion he had for my great-grandmother...They were married for 63 years. I saw at a young age how a marriage should be.”
Ridings has been a medical worker, volunteer and Sunday School teacher for 50 years. Carolyn Wooton wrote, “Volunteering to help others is Billie’s mission in life.”
Brooks is a WWII veteran, code breaker in England during war, Laurel County businessman, good neighbor and philanthropist. He was nominated by his daughter Sharon Kidd.
In one nomination letter, Cassidy is described as a “hardworking country wife and mother.”
London’s Living Treasures grew out of the local America In Bloom committee, as a way to preserve the history of London and Laurel County.
“Living treasures are the people we most admire,” explained Dianna Milam, Downtown member. “They are consistent in their qualities of generosity, humor and goodness. We hope to continue this project as an annual tradition.”
The 2013 Living Treasures stories will start appearing in The Sentinel-Echo on April 10.