March 6, 2014

Four chosen as 2014 ‘Living Treasures’

By Carrie Dillard
Managing Editor

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.

Starting on April 16, the stories of Hubert Robinson, Elizabeth "Sis" Griffin, Bernice Chesnut and Jack Bruner will be featured in The Sentinel-Echo.

Robinson, 92, is a World War II veteran, having served in the U.S. Navy. He is a loving father and businessman.

"He still has a twinkle in his eye ... He walked to school, traveled far and wide growing up with his father's tanbark, sawmill and lumber business. He joined the Navy and served our country proudly ... He was married to the same lady, my mom (now deceased), for 50 years ... He inspires us by exercising 2 to 3 times everyday on his home equipment ... He loves Vince Gill, UK Wildcats and lives close to town," said Sandra Robinson Osborne, his daughter. "He exemplifies and has lived, in my opinion, what it means to be an honorable man."

According to Carolyn Wooten, who nominated, Griffin, 84, she grew up in Richmond, Ky. After marrying her husband, George, the two moved to London where together they build the Laurel Grocery business. 

But what was so inspiring about Griffin, Wooten said, was her spirit for community service.

"During World War II, she organized local women to help make items needed for the war effort and for the soldiers," she said.  "This is probably the best statement about her personality and thus her endeavors."

Wooten also nominated Chesnut, who she describes as warm, welcoming and an angel.

"Chesnut, 81, has lived in this area all of her eighty plus years, within 10 miles of where she was born," she stated in her nomination letter.  "For 27 years, Bernice has been the widow of Lowell Chesnut. When she became Lowell's bride, she also became the parent of three young children, whose mother had died in an accident. Bernice worked as the farmer's wife on the 205-acre farm. Today, she continues to live and work on the farm, gardening, raising cattle and leasing the land for crops."

Bruner, 81, is an Army veteran, a father, a church elder and a former school board member.

"My dad has always and continues to be my greatest role model," said daughter Duff Holcomb. "Dad has the kindest heart. What you see is really what you get and really what he is ... His kindness was exemplified in his care of our mom during her sickness and death from ovarian cancer in 2001.  He went to every doctor's appointment and treatment with her from the beginning to the end of her journey ... He is a man of character and I can only  hope to be the same role model for my children."

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 2011 Living Treasures were Clyde Brock, Elaine Hays, Opal Overbey and Dr. Paul Smith.

The 2012 Living Treasures were Glenn “Buddy” Westbrook, Leonard Gilliam, Alice Helton and Toni Ryser.

The 2013 Living Treasures were Finley Baker, Billie Ridings, Bill Brooks, and Beulah Cassidy.

The 2014 Living Treasures stories will start appearing in The Sentinel-Echo on April 16.

For more information about the Living Treasures project, call Dianna Milam at 606-416-1898.