Ex-mayor gives Gary Blair key to city

By Renee Beasley Jones Messenger-Inquirer

When Gary Blair wrote a letter to Owensboro’s former Mayor Dave Adkisson, whom Blair has known for years, he didn’t expect a thing in return.

But Blair not only received a handwritten response earlier this month from Adkisson, who is now president and CEO of Kentucky Chamber in Frankfort. Adkisson included a special gift.

“Dear Gary,” Adkisson’s note started. “I just read — again — the very kind letter you sent me last year. It brought back wonderful memories of my involvement with Wendell Foster and getting to know you at that time.

“I saw Mayor Tom Watson and told him I still had a couple of keys to the city in my possession. He said former mayors can officially bestow a key on a worthy individual. I thought of you and decided to put this in the mail.”

Now, Blair is the proud owner of a key to the city of Owensboro.

It will be mounted in a shadowbox and placed in a large display case at Wendell Foster, where Blair has lived since 1953. Wendell Foster provides a variety of services for developmentally disabled residents, including housing.

Adkisson characterized Blair’s letter to him as “touching.”

Blair sent news of Wendell Foster, where Adkisson once served on the board of directors. And Blair wrote about Adkisson’s time as mayor.

“He was spreading a little sunshine,” Adkisson said.

That’s Blair’s way. “I knew Gary as one of the most cheerful, enthusiastic residents (at Wendell Foster),” Adkisson said.

Blair, 72, credited Adkisson with being very responsive and helpful during his tenure in local government. For example, Blair had trouble getting his wheelchair over the Triplett Street railroad tracks near Wendell Foster, so he called Adkisson.

The former mayor got in touch with CSX, which maintains the tracks, and the problem was fixed, Blair said.

Adkisson found two or three keys to the city of Owensboro recently while cleaning his basement. The keys were given to him by former mayors Ron Payne or Waymond Morris.

Interesting note: Blair’sceremonial key has a practical purpose, Adkisson said. It doubles as a bottle opener.

In the final paragraph of Adkisson’s handwritten response, he wrote to Blair:

“I hope you are doing well. Keep your positive spirit. You sure warmed my heart when you wrote me the letter.”

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, [email protected]