Webster remembered for the many things he did for Carrollton

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Many have shared their memories of Charlie Webster this past week and tonight, as I write, I am moved to share mine.

In a large way, Charlie was Carrollton to me. I first met him as my pharmacist working out of the old drug store on the square, but soon we connected in a much closer way. Both unrepentant Democrats, we shared our experiences and beliefs in that party over the years. Our stories of old-time politics in small Kentucky towns were made real by our memories of our parents and grandparents.

In the late 1980s or early ’90s, Chuck Overbey (Carroll County Community Development director at the time) sat at a table at the Carrollton Inn with my former husband and me. We discussed how great it would be to have some sort of structure at Point Park, right at the confluence of the two rivers. I have on my wall a framed drawing done on a Carrollton Inn placemat, and it is the pavilion that would come to be built with Charlie Webster as the driving force behind the construction. While some were skeptical of the idea, the pavilion has come to be a symbol of our river town, almost as much as our lovely courthouse square.

Charlie and I both served on the local tourism commission. When I suggested that we could do an outdoor drama, using the pavilion as our stage, Charlie became the biggest supporter of the idea. For six summers during the month of July, tourism sponsored “The Point in Time,” a Chautauqua-style presentation of our local history where the two rivers meet.

In the mid- to late-’90s, Charlie backed me when I proposed that tourism sponsor a blues festival to be called “Blues to the Point,” and the pavilion celebrated another great event.

None of these things would have happened, nor would they have met with real success, had Charlie not had the vision and position to see that things got done. I don’t mean for this to sound as if it is about me, for I was only suggesting ideas that I had seen work elsewhere. Charlie made them work here. For those reasons alone, he earned my greatest respect; but that did not end our collaboration.

Serving eight years on the public library board of trustees, seven of them as chairman, Charlie and I developed an even closer working relationship. I had no greater encouragement to strive to do more, to make our library better, than from him. Through his very positive leadership, we began the public-relations campaign and fund-raising that would make the dream of a new library a reality.  “I got us a hundred grand!” he proudly announced after making one of his contacts.

I had not seen him as often since my own retirement, but when I did, his happy greetingm “How’s it goin’, Gal,” was accompanied by his usual smile. I saw him just about three weeks ago and remarked on his good color and told him I hoped he got to go to Florida with Chuck and Jim Monk more often.

This is a very brief accounting of my memory of Charlie. His legacy is in that memory, but more importantly in the decades of service he gave to this community, the friendship he extended to all, and in the joy he found in his children.

One last anecdote that would surely make Charlie laugh out loud: When I attended his service on Friday, I sat on the back pew near the door, as I had a 2 p.m. appointment and might have to leave a bit early. Just before noon, I realized I had my cell phone with me and, rather than take it to the car, I tried to turn it off. In the stress of the moment, my mind turned to scrambled eggs and I could not remember how to do that.  (Think back, I have written before about my ineptitude with today’s gadgets.) So I put the phone on vibrate. Fifteen minutes into the service, the phone rang.

Now my cell phone doesn’t ring five times a month – what were the odds? I dashed out to the foyer of St. John’s where a very nice man turned the phone off. I returned to my seat.

At one o’clock, the phone rang again. I was beyond mortified. This time I left and kept on running, right to my car. When I got there, I was still clutching the hymnal I had held during the service. So now, not only was I guilty of a ringing phone twice, but I had stolen the Catholic hymnal. I promise to return it immediately. 

And I have figured out how to turn the phone off, but I still don’t know why it rings when it says “vibrate.”

Jarrett Boyd is the retired director of Carroll County Public Library.