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11/26/10 04:11 PM #1    


Marcia Wilson (Hermann)

Nice article about classmate David Down's daughter, Sadie

Downs's passion for history helps others learn about past


February 24, 2016


Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff



Going to Civil War reenactments and historic places - including the Mary
Todd Lincoln House in Lexington - as a little girl with her father were
life-changing experiences for Sadie Downs, now 17.

David Downs taught his daughter to appreciate history and the lessons
learned from the past. And now Sadie, a senior at Woodford County High
School, has a passion to learn about the past and a desire to share what she
learns with others.

The Kentucky Historical Society honored Sadie as its Volunteer of the Month
in February because of "her positive attitude and enthusiasm, along with her
instinctual knowledge of what information is important for historical

Sadie spends most weekday afternoons at the Kentucky Historical Society
scanning historic postcards so those visual depictions of how life in the
Bluegrass state has changed over the last 100 years are accessible to
researchers and the public. Her primary responsibility involves digitizing
postcards that will supplement a collection started by Ronald Morgan -
believed to be the second-largest collection of Kentucky postcards in the
United States.

Sadie also writes "descriptions to help contextualize information for patron
use," according the Kentucky Historical Society's monthly newsletter.

Sadie says reading a postcard's message reminds her that she's not so very
different from the person who wrote those words 100 years ago. Since she
plans to attend Western Kentucky University in the fall, postcards depicting
its early history are especially meaningful to her.

"We need to see how far we've come and how far we need to go," Sadie says.

Before she began volunteering with the Kentucky Historical Society's student
co-op program in September 2015, Sadie took advanced placement U.S. history,
government and military history classes last school year.

"The collaboration of all those (classes) really helped to further my
education and gave me a better understanding of history because you saw it
from all different viewpoints," explains Sadie.

She says her U. S. history teacher, Kyle Fannin, gave her an application
that led to her being interviewed for the Kentucky Historical Society's
student co-op program.

"This (helping others learn about history) is something that I truly love.
And I'm really excited that I'll get to do this for a living one day," says

She wants to come back to WCHS after she earns a teaching degree from WKU so
she can share her passion for history with the next generation of students
and give them "the level of education that I've received," she says.
In addition to volunteering at the Kentucky Historical Society, Sadie
interns at the Jack Jouett House in Woodford County. She spends two Mondays
a month at the historic site reorganizing its research files so those
documents are more accessible to volunteers and visitors.

"She's got good grip on local history as well as state history," says Janice
Clark, executive director of the Jouett House, "and I think she'll make a
terrific history teacher."

















Wonderful article about '75 classmate, Cindy Lang Blanton

Blanton the ‘epitome of customer service

The Independent
ASHLAND Cindy Blanton finds happiness helping others succeed.“People help me. That’s why I
help others. I didn’t get here by myself,” Blanton said, sitting behind her desk at Community
Trust Bank downtown.“I love, love, love what I do,” she said, a broad statement when the
things she does includes service for the Salvation Army, the Rotary Club, the Ashland Senior
Center, the Ashland Cemeter yboard, the Dining With the Past committee, and former positions,
including the 1975 Paul G. Blazer High School class reunion committee,the South Ashland Business
Association and the Shelter of Hope. She also rings bells atChristmas and helps out with
Glove Thy Neighbor and Angel Tree efforts.

The daughter of Ralph and EuniceLang, Blanton and her husband,Terry, reside in South Ashland

and recently celebrated their 35th anniversary. As a youngerwoman, she stood apart from he rthree siblings, as well as her fellow marching band members atBlazer, as “the tall one,” she said,a description that sticks with her to this day.“I was always the tallest girl, always .I’m 6 feet, barefooted,” she said with a chuckle before adding bank customers often ask for“that tall, blonde lady” rathe rthan calling her by name.

Growing up in east Ashland,Blanton said she was raised in an excellent atmosphere along 29th
Street. “It was the ‘Leave It toBeaver’ type of neighborhood,”she said, recalling scenes with
moms hanging clothes on lines,and children who knew it was time to go home when the streetlights
kicked on.“I’m a blacktop and sidewalk kind of girl. I’ve never lived in the country,” she said, remembering
her youth as an era when her mom served three hot meals aday, regardless of her own needs,
and children played games and always knew “everybody watchedout for everybody” with no need
for an official neighborhoodwatch program. Hinting at her future disposition toward those
around her, Blanton said her earliest professional ambition was to serve as a hospital candy striper.
Blanton said her first job was at Ashland’s old Woolco, adding she is still sometimes recognized by
the department store’s former customers. “You could buy diamonds at Woolco,” she said, recalling
the business as “a true department store, although it wasn’t on the caliber of a Parsons,” with
nearly each area operated by an independent contractor. She had been devoting her days off to visiting
area banks (“There were seven at the time,” she notes) and filing job applications when a friend
advised to stop by Second National Bank to try to fill a fresh opening. A short while later, she bid
goodbye to her friends at Woolco and took a station behind the main counter as a teller at the big
bank. Celebrating 36 years at the same facility in October, Blanton has had many titles, including
time as a recovery coordinator.“I repossessed cars. I knocked on doors for payments,” she said,
adding she never had a nonamicable encounter with anyone in that situation. She has also worked as
a branch manager, senior market lender and branch administrator before becoming the second
woman to be named a senior vice president. She is proud to say shehas been on the job at the same
bank since her first day on the job.“I am serving a third generation of customers — grandchildren
of some of my first customers,” she said. “I know I’m a dinosaur in this business, meaning
working at the same bank my entire career, but I am proud of that. I’m extremely proud of that
accomplishment. The history of this bank ... wow! All the men and women I’ve worked with over the
years I owe a debt to. It’s been a long tradition here to ‘pay it forward’ to teach others what you
have knowledge of and prepare the next generation. We continue the tradition today. I’ve worked
for eight bank presidents, been through four names changes and numerous system conversions,
but it all has been a learning and growing experience for me and I wouldn’t change a single thing. I
love what I do!”
Longtime friend and associate Ann Perkins said Blanton’s inspirational
habits are often infectious. “She is the epitome of customer
service. She is a big-time Ashlandsupporter and cheerleader. She is a good hometown girl. No, she is a
great hometown girl,” Perkins said. “She is all about making this
community as good as it can be.” Blanton the ‘epitome of customer service’





November 25, 2010

Thankful for life

Greg Estep’s winning spirit keeps him fighting after tough year

ASHLAND — Greg Estep is a fighter. Always has been, always will be.

As a boy growing up, he was a fighter.

As an athlete in high school, he was a fighter.

As a man facing cancer, he has been a fighter.

Always fighting. Relentless. Never giving up.

It’s been 13 months and 10 days since the Estep family had their lives turned inside out with the news that Greg had Stage 4 cancer. It’s something you never accept, only learn to live with. But it becomes a date that’s etched in the mind, a date that becomes a crossroads in life, a date that is never forgotten.

“It was October 14,” said Pam. “That date will never leave me. He had just come off a weekend going with (son) Chris at an Alabama game. That’s when we got the diagnosis.

“When the doctor told us, you just set there like you’re having an outer-body experience. You’re in disbelief. Your mind can’t absorb it. He looked at me and I looked at him. You go in for what you think are kidney stones and they gave us pretty much a death sentence.”

They performed a CAT scan and found Greg had multiple lesions on the liver and lungs and they didn’t think either was the primary source. They also found it in his esophagus. Then the Esteps were told this sobering statistic:  95 percent don’t make it a year with this stage of cancer. The chemotherapy started immediately and it has been painful. Greg has been in and out of the hospital, sometimes lethargic and tired and mostly without an appetite.

Yet he soldiered on. The fighter in him wouldn’t allow him not to.

Two weeks ago, on Nov. 10, the Esteps made another decision, a gut-wrenching one. They decided to stop the chemo treatments that were ravaging his body. It was a decision they didn’t enter into lightly but a decision that was bathed in much prayer. Greg Estep has drawn close to his pastor, Steve Ruby, and even closer to God throughout the ordeal. He is at peace with what lies ahead.

And so is his wife, the love of his life.

“God’s in control and we both know it,” Pam said.

Greg said the decision was a tough one but what he feels is the right one.

Tough choices

The decision to forgo the chemo treatment was made with Greg’s best interests at the root of it. Eventually, it would have to be his decision to make

“It came down to he had a limited number of chemos that could work on him, that they could use for this cancer,” Pam said. “The first one they thought was best but he had such a bad reaction to it. He had a seizure so we went to another and another one. It made him so ill. We made the decision that it wasn’t worth putting him through that. We decided his quality of life was more important. The family wanted what was best for him.”

They counseled with their pastor and also with Dr. David Goebel, who Pam called “such an inspiration to us.” It was best, they all decided, to stop the chemo. Greg said it was confirmed in his mind when Ruby and Goebel had come to the same conclusion.

“They said the exact same thing and that was it,” he said. “I know my family hated to see me suffer.”

But that doesn’t mean the fight has stopped, nor is it a sign of surrender to the disease. The fight won’t stop. It never will. Not with Greg Estep.

“He’s decided to fight it, live it and trust the Lord,” his wife said.

Don’t get the idea that Greg has given up on being cured, either. The fight is still in him.

“I’ve not stopped, I’m not quitting,” he said. “I’m just approaching it from a different angle.”

While life over the past year has been difficult, it’s also been some of the best times the couple have ever experienced together, his wife said.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Pam said. “I just got over a crying spell. But life has become sweeter because we learned to live it day to day instead of assuming we have a future. It’s a whole new prospective on life and family and what really is important to you. It’s the way we’re intended to live our lives. We all think we’re somewhat invincible. It’s something Greg and I would hope nobody would have to go through.”

Greg Estep has been Pam’s rock since they were high school sweethearts. They married and had two children, Heather and Chris. They now have three grandchildren, the youngest being Will, Chris’s son, who is 8 months old. Heather’s two children are Ethan, 7, and Ella who is 4.

There’s no prouder grandfather, no better father and husband.

“They get away with a lot more than me and Chris ever did,” Heather said.

“We’re supposed to do that,” chimed in Greg. “We’re grandparents.”

Goals achieved

When Greg was diagnosed last October, he began assembling some goals. One of them was the birth of his second grandson, Will, and another was to take his grandson to watch his beloved Alabama Crimson Tide play football. He accomplished both of them.

Greg has also been healthy enough to travel some and his classmates from high school took him on a weekend fishing trip in the spring. He also made it to the 35-year high school reunion, another highlight in a year that took on a totally different spin after Oct. 14. Meanwhile, he has stayed positive and remains the rock of the family.

“I told people before, a lot of good came out of this,” he said. “He showed me what kind of courage I had inside me and my faith itself has gotten stronger. It’s brought people together. There’s a reason behind it.”

Not that Greg hasn’t had his own personal pity parties and asked: Why me? But when it comes to blessings, he said he’s had many.

“There are days you do feel bad and feel sorry for yourself,” he admitted. “But then I’d get a phone call from somebody and my spirits would be raised. I want to thank the community, the churches, friends, families, co-workers ... everybody has been in my corner throughout this battle. The cards and letters have been overwhelming. People have said I’m an inspiration to them but my friends have been an inspiration to me.”

Most of all, he said family has carried him through the tough days.

“My family, God bless them. My daughter, son, daughter-in-law, son-in-law and this one right here,” he said, with his arm around his wife. “I’d be lost without her. She has been a lifesaver. We’ve drawn closer than we’ve ever been.”

Their children’s spouses — Heather’s husband Jamey Sellars and Chris’s wife Julie — have been godsends, Pam said. “I do think they’re the best son-in-law and daughter-in-law in the world,” she said.

School sweethearts

“He has been my life since high school,” Pam said. “We dated three years in high school and have been married 35 years. He’s taken care of the kids’ lives and been supportive of them in all their endeavors.”

Chris, who followed in his father’s footsteps as a Tomcat quarterback, said the family has approached the cancer like they deal with everything — head-on.

“There’s no game plan,” he said. “You adjust on the fly because everybody’s situation is different.”

Chris has been through the cancer watch before when his wife Julie’s father died from lung cancer a couple of years ago.

“Knowing a little bit of their situation, we kind of know what to expect. But everybody is different. The one thing I’m most thankful of is Dad has been so positive throughout everything. I tell him ‘You’re more brave than you are smart.’’’

Chris has the fighting Estep spirit in him, too. That’s how he played football and basketball for the Tomcats. He lives in Mandeville, La., but calls his mom and dad every day for updates. That’s been the hard part for him, living so far away, as others fight his father’s fight with him.

“Mom and Heather are here fighting it every day,” Chris said. “He puts a smile on even though he’s hurting inside.”

Greg Estep was a mentor to many young football players in the Ashland system throughout the years as a Junior Football League coach. He figured that Ethan could be the first grandchild that he could coach. The illness, though, has kept him from that as well.

“He got to work with Ethan a little bit shooting (basketball) before he got too tired,” Pam said. “Ethan will say ‘My Pappaw taught me how to shoot.’’’

Chris said before his father became ill that he was kidding him and Steve Harvey about “coming out of (JFL) retirement. He said ‘I can coach Ethan but I don’t know if I can coach his mother.’’’

Heather, who is a nurse, said watching her father’s illness progress has been difficult especially with her children. They idolize their grandfather, she said.

“It’s harder for me to watch my kids deal with it,” Heather said. “You kind of take it all in stride when you’re dealing with it day to day. You’re thankful for the days you have.”

Pam said Heather has been someone she can — and does — call on for help at any hour.

“I don’t know if it’s such a good thing to live so close,” she said with a grin.

Heather was also an athlete, like her father. She starred in basketball for the Kittens and brought a competitive fire like her father had to the court.

Her son, Ethan, has a hero who is called Pappaw.

“It was great to hear them talk about going to his first Alabama game,” she said.


The year was not without its setbacks, too, as is to be expected. One big one was the death of Dr. Loren Ledford last Christmas.

“He was there the morning Greg was diagnosed,” Pam said. “He said ‘It’s not good but we’re going to dig in and fight this thing.’ He was such an encouragement and then he was gone. That was devastating. We were friends and I worked with Janice (Ledford, Loren’s mother) for many years. It was more than a doctor-patient relationship. Loren’s death was hard on Greg.”

There are days when fatigue sets in and sleeping is the only option. Fighting the fight of cancer does that to a body.

“I’ve never seen anybody handle this with more courage,” Pam said. “He’s been so positive. He always says ‘we’ll make it.’’’

‘Mad Dog’

Greg Estep was a two-sport star for the Ashland Tomcats in the mid 1970s, a quarterback on the football team and a point guard on the basketball team. He had that same fighting spirit then he does today.

Estep was nicknamed “Mad Dog” because that’s how he played sometimes. But “Mad Dog” was always a leader, showing by example what needed to be done, leading with a no-fear mentality that earned respect from teammates and opponents alike. He got the most out of his talent and that winning spirit inside made him a warrior.

The class of 1975, of which both Greg and Pam are members, had its 35th high school reunion this summer. Pam had a previous commitment with her children and couldn’t attend but Greg was there and he enjoyed himself immensely. Several of Greg’s friends from high school took him on a fishing expedition in the spring and Pam says that friends from high school and throughout Greg’s life have been such a support group for both of them that they don’t know what they would have done without it.

“It’s been an inspiration for Greg to read so many messages (on CaringBridge, a website available for those with long-term illnesses),” Pam said. “Longtime friends have called and checked on him. It has meant so much.”

It has been a good year for Greg with more good days than bad, Pam said.

 “When I walked him upstairs the other day, he said he was sorry,” Pam said. “I told him there was nothing to be sorry about. If this had happened to one of us, he would take care of us in a heartbeat.”

The Estep family will break Thanksgiving bread together and be thankful for what God has provided them throughout the past year, even with all the trials they have faced. They know better than most that every day is precious.


11/27/10 10:06 AM #2    

Mary Reliford (Peer)

 Thanks to all the people who work so hard to keep our class informed.  I happened to read the post about Bob coming to town and decided to stop in C.J.'s to say HI!!  I enjoyed seeing everyone and hearing about many more.  It is wonderful to have a class of many that choose to remain close.  I  regret that I have not attended the reunions but, I am very thankful for those who have worked hard and cared enough to share the joy.  May God Bless each and everyone of you.  


01/21/12 12:21 PM #3    


Marcia Wilson (Hermann)

Here is an article by our Classmate Mark Maynard. It includes an ammusing story about another classmate LuAnn Edwards Serey.

January 18, 2012

Mark Maynard: Rolling with the best of them: 1/19/12

ASHLAND — I read, with interest, our story on the front page Sunday about memories from the Paradise Lanes Bowling Center.

Bowling centers, golf courses, swimming pools, skating rinks, movie theaters (inside and outside), even pool halls and favorite places to eat have come and (mostly) gone in my nearly 55 years in Ashland.

Looking back on it, there may be more no longer standing than the opposite. That’s what made the story and photo of the Paradise Lanes so thought-provoking. It was another-one-bites-the-dust kind of moment.

While I would never consider myself any kind of bowling guru, I’ve rolled a few games in my day. And, like many of you, I’ve rolled a few games at Paradise Lanes.

I was even part of a bowling league — the Happy Couples League— about 30 years ago.

The mixed bowling league was on Wednesday nights and my half of the “couple” was actually a co-worker, former high school classmate and good friend, Luann Edwards Serey.

What happened during that league was amazing on two levels. It encompassed the worst game I’ve ever seen bowled and the best game I ever bowled — one of my few sports achievements outside of writing.

Thankfully, too, the worst game and my best game weren’t one in the same. But it was truly amazing.

Luann warned me before signing up she really wasn’t a very good bowler. I told her not to worry because I’m not either.

But when she said she wasn’t a good bowler, well, she really meant it. However, what she lacked in bowling skills she made up for with a sense of humor.

Good thing.

On the first night of the league, when handicaps were being established, Luann rolled the worst game I’ve ever seen anybody roll. I’m talking anybody, including the little tikes that take turns for Mom and Dad ever so often and two-hand the heavy bowling ball down the lane.

Luann had more balls make it to the gutter than make it down the lane. On the off chance the bowling ball did slowly roll toward the pins, it lacked so much speed by the time it got there it would barely knock down one or two pins. Let’s just say The Force was not with her.

At the end of the game, when the scores were added up, she had bowled a 29. I’m not sure she would have broken 30 with gutter-guards, but maybe. No, actually, probably not.

Truth be told, though, she really wasn’t that bad. Oh, she was bad, but not 29 bad.

So, without doing it on purpose, she had sandbagged a nice handicap for our league team. We were a juggernaut because of it. She broke the speed limit (55) most of the time and sometimes even cracked triple figures. Not often, but sometimes.

I averaged a respectable 130, good for me but low for the league. So my handicap wasn’t bad either.

When the scores were added up, with handicaps included, we were a hard team to beat. As a matter of fact, we ended up league champions — mostly because of Lou’s 29 during the handicap round.

I can’t remember the rest of our team, although Susie Lyons, who graduated with me and Luann, was the other female partner. I spoke with Lou and neither of us could remember the other male.

Now for my game in The League.

As I’ve already stated, my bowling game was hardly memorable. I’m just an Average Joe who had a reverse twist on the throw that had a screwball effect on the ball.

Well, for one night, it was My Time. I was like Earl Anthony.

The first six balls thrown were strikes. I was starting to feel a little bit like Howard Sprague, the “Mayberry” character who bowled the shocking perfect game in one of the episodes. Howard, you may remember, had to bowl his last ball the next day because the power went out at the bowling alley. I could only have wished for such luck after the first six frames.

Alas, it was not a night of perfection for me — the seventh frame was left open — but it was still a great night even though the power stayed on.

When it was all said and done, I had rolled a 245 actual. The best part was my good buddy Tony Curnutte happened to be subbing for our other male Happy Couple partner that night so he witnessed it, too. Tony was so excited for me. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

He also witnessed my very next game — a stout 85 — that showed my 245 was nothing but pure dumb luck.

Still, that score — plus my handicap — earned me a trophy that is still somewhere in my basement and amazingly not in a place of prominence at my house.

What does a guy have to do?

As for Luann’s 29, it goes down in my Hall of Fame of greatest (worst?) sports numbers. Other numbers include the 407 golf score turned in during a girls regional tournament several years ago (that’s 26 strokes per hole) and the 247 pitches thrown by a 13-year-old in a Babe Ruth baseball all-star tournament several years ago.

I am not making those up, nor did I make up Luann’s 29, although those kind of numbers are hard to comprehend in anybody’s book.

MARK?MAYNARD can be reached at or (606) 326-2648.



01/21/12 03:16 PM #4    

Debbie Click (Smith)

Today was one of those days when a headcold was kicking my butt, and I needed a laugh - well, Mark, you supplied it!  I am very happy to say, that should there ever come a time that I am back home in Ashland for more than a couple of days, I would be more than happy to bowl with you and/or Louann - only because I didn't think that there was ever anyone as bad as I am at bowling!  Thanks for the chuckle - and I look forward to seeing you all at the next reunion if not before!

Debbie (Click) Smith

01/21/12 03:19 PM #5    

Sallie Blazer

Thanks, Marcia, for posting Mark's article. I spent many nights at Paradise lanes watching Dad bowl. Unfortunately, LuAnn doesn't hold the record for worst games bowled there. I do not remember if I bowled for the first time while I was at Coles or PGBHS. I have tried to wipe out the memory of that game so timing is not clear. What I do know is that I bowled a remarkable O! Yes, all gutter balls. They rolled a lot harder than what Mark describes about LuAnn. Even so, they all ended up in the gutter. I got better with time, but bowling was never meant to be my sport. Wii bowling is another matter. My record is 292.

01/22/12 03:17 PM #6    


Pam Stapleton (Walter)

This is a great article... I have been bowling many times at both Paridise and Blue Ribbon Lanes.. I too am not the best bowler but do enjoy it.. Marcia, thanks for posting this so that we all could enjoy reading. Don't know if there is a place to bowl in Ashland but if there is,, I think Debbie has a good idea, when we are there we need to try getting together and rolling a few games!

01/23/12 07:24 PM #7    


Marcia Wilson (Hermann)


That is hilarious!!!  I am a terrible bowler so I just use the excuse that I have a bad back and bowling really hurts it!

03/04/12 02:33 PM #8    


Marcia Wilson (Hermann)

What an Accomplishment!!!  We are so proud of our Classmate!

March 4, 2012

Maynard named editor of newspaper

ASHLAND — Veteran newspaperman Mark Maynard has been named editor of The Independent, according to an announcement by publisher Eddie Blakeley.

“His vast experience in all facets of the editorial department make him uniquely qualified to take over  this position,” Blakeley said. “Mark has a great understanding of what it takes to put out a good community newspaper in both our printed and online editions.”

Maynard, 54, began working at The Independent when he was a senior at Paul G. Blazer High School in 1975. He worked part-time through college where he graduated from Morehead State University in 1980.

Maynard began full-time employment in 1979 as a sportswriter. He was promoted to sports editor in 1990 and managing editor in 2006.

“He has been a huge asset to The Independent and our communities for over three decades and I cannot think of anyone I would rather see have this job,” Blakeley said. “I am confident he will continue to make The Independent the first choice for news and information that our readers have come to expect from our newspaper.”

Maynard is best known for his column writing and sports writing where he has been a consistent winner in the Kentucky Press Association competition for more than 30 years. He has won more than 55 KPA awards over the years. He has also authored two books, “Mark My Words” and “Teamwork: The Story of the 1961 Ashland Tomcats,” that were published through the Jesse Stuart Foundation.

Maynard is looking forward to the challenges that come with leading the newspaper and feels he is well-prepared for the role.

“I’ve grown up with this newspaper and with this community. I’m so proud of both. I hope that we can make a difference by continuing to be the watchdog over local government and a voice for those in need. (Former editor) Mike Reliford groomed me for this position. I owe so much of my career to him and am still so saddened by his passing. I hope I can do him proud.”

Reliford served as editor from 1998 until his death two weeks ago. Maynard followed Reliford’s same career path at the newspaper from sports writer, to sports editor, to managing editor, to editor.

“We want to continue to be the most trusted source for local news in the area,” Maynard said. “We also look to be leaders in the communities we serve and plan on taking an active role in that capacity.”

Maynard is a member of Unity Baptist Church where he serves as a deacon and as the Sunday School superintendent. He and his wife, Beth, an elementary teacher at Rose Hill Christian School for 32 years, live in Ashland. They have two grown children.

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