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Honoring three good men

I want to recognize three good men. Two have gone on and one is still making his mark in the world.

I really thought I would never again write about Verne Orndorff after he passed away recently, just six months after he turned 100 years old. How wrong I was.

I consider myself very lucky to have gotten to know Verne well before he died.

It did not take me long to realize he was a very smart man. It also did not take me long before I found myself admiring all he had accomplished in his life. I got the feeling there was nothing he could not do if he set his mind to it.

During many games of rummy, I listened to his interesting stories of World War II days. I found myself being intrigued by them when he told of being in Australia and all that took place while he was there.

I often thought how blessed the world was he did not die with typhoid fever he contracted while there. As he told me how horribly sick he was during those days, I realized God just was not finished with him yet.

Sitting in on the program that honored him Sunday at the Bluegrass Heritage Museum, that thought once again entered my mind. If that sickness had taken his life many years ago, there would never have been a Sheltowee Trace Trail in Kentucky.

Verne envisioned this trail, worked hard to make it happen and laid out a trail much the same as Daniel Boone would have done. He crawled on his stomach through bramble bushes and briar patches to accomplish his dream. I am sure he swatted at mosquitoes and bugs and no doubt saw a snake or two. He walked through all kinds of weather from freezing cold to the burning heat.

The trail covers nearly 300 miles through Kentucky and goes all the way to the Tennessee line.

He saw it finished and was visited by people who walked the trail and let him know how much they enjoyed his vision and hard work in having laid the trail out.

People like Verne, who come into the world and leave it a better place, should never be forgotten. I was overjoyed when I learned a bridge would be named in his honor.

I also feel compelled to write about Scotty Hamilton, who was an officer for the Pikeville Police Department. This man left a huge mark on others lives in his very short life.

He died by defending his county from crime, and a suspect took his life. There is little that makes me angrier than to hear one of our policemen have been shot.

Yes, I agree there are a few bad eggs in police departments, but they are so rare to find. They still put their lives and that of their families in danger each day they put on their uniform.

They do it because they want to protect the world they live in.

That is what Hamilton did the day he was gunned down.

Though I did not know him personally, I learned what a wonderful man he was from those who spoke about him at his funeral. I only learned from watching on TV the quality of life he lived.

Some of the last words he spoke to his wife as he lay dying in the hospital stuck with me. She spoke, with tears streaming down her face, and repeated those words that were, “‘You have to thank all these people.’ All I could think of was, ‘No, all these people need to thank you.’” I am doing that today.

His fellow police officers let his widow know they promised to protect her and her family. That in itself made me appreciate them even more.

The Bible tells us to take care of the widows in our world. That is something I think we all fall short of doing. Our police need protection, too. They get paid very little in comparison to others who take care of our towns. Thank you, men in gray and blue.

The next man is still trying to find himself in the sports world. His name is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and he plays basketball for the University of Kentucky.

His growth in the last few months show he has made some huge steps. All I really know about him is what I have seen on the court and speaking to him by text.

His manners are amazing! He is so polite. He just seems so thankful about his abilities on the basketball floor.

His leadership on the court is noticeable. The one thing I have noticed the most is his humbleness after a ball game. There is no showing off when it would be so easy to do after some great wins.

His interviews are great. I believe he is destined for greatness on the basketball floor and in life.

Even coach John Calipari spoke highly of him and said there is something about these Canadian kids.

He mentioned how teachable he is. Sometimes I think our American children are too spoiled. Maybe they can learn something from this Canadian boy.

It remains to be seen how Gilgeous-Alexander’s life will turn out. Hopefully, he will not have any injuries while playing the game he loves.

Whatever his future holds, I wish him the very best. He has made me smile this year.

I would be willing to bet all these men had a wonderful mother. Few have both parents to raise them any more. There are so many athletes who have only a mother to guide them throughout life.

I know the person has to have the drive within themselves to accomplish things, however.

I still think a lot of these men’s greatness came from a good upbringing.

I would also be willing to bet they never learned how to live from an iPhone or an electronic game. These three men are only a few who are exceptional and I know there are so many more out there in our world.

Who will be the next great man?

Sue Staton is a Clark County native who grew up in the Kiddville area. She is a wife, mother and grandmother who is active in her church, First United Methodist Church, and her homemakers group, Towne and Country Homemakers.