There are times your mind wanders back to those who have gone on and are no longer in our community. I often think of Homer Ledford and his talents, his kindness and all he did for Clark County.
The other day while talking to his wife Colista on the phone, I told her how nice it was of her to give my daughter Shanda one of Homer’s shirts to use last year when she did the scarecrow of him for the Scarecrow Festival.
From that, our conversation continued on, and I learned how she and Homer met. She recounted a sweet story of how they met at Berea College, and if I remember correctly, were married 54 years.
I told her how I remember my older brother saying how much he liked Homer for a teacher when he taught shop at the high school.
One thing has always stood out in my mind about Homer: He knew no class of people and he treated everyone the same. Colista told me I was right in thinking that.
She mentioned that, at one time, people at Eastern Kentucky University had spoken to her about naming the new center there after Homer, to be the “Homer Ledford Center for Appalachian Music.” Since the center has been completed at Eastern, she wasn’t sure if anything would be done. I realized that Homer had been all over this state doing good all his life, and he was deserving of a place in his honor. I told her I planned to call EKU and see what was being done that very day.
After my call to the school president’s office, and after speaking with his secretary, I am happy to say they told me there are still plans to honor Homer Ledford. In fact, the president's assistant spoke to him while I was on the line, and he told her instead of a center honoring Homer, there would be a room with his instruments and other belongings. He said they were working with Homer’s wife and that there would indeed be a room to honor him.
I was elated and called Colista back to tell her what I had been told. I am still in awe that some of the instruments Homer made are at the Smithsonian Institution. What an honor to even say you knew him.
Colista told me, that when he died in Wyoming, notice of his death ran across the television screen on a station there. He was known throughout the U.S., but if you met him on the street you would think he was an “average Joe.” Only until you heard him pick up a dulcimer or a hand saw to play, would it resonate how talented this man was. Then, once realizing he made his dulcimer by hand, you would be impressed even more.
All of his accolades never went to his head. In fact, his wife told me that every time he was about to be honored he would say, “Somebody else, deserves to be honored, better than me.” She tried to get him to realize he was deserving of the honors.
He stayed so humble throughout his life, and I don’t think he ever truly knew how much others admired him, myself included. What a role model he was for our town. Thank you, Homer Ledford, for being you.