Pamela and Fred
One of the reasons I love being a journalist is that I occasionally get to meet extraordinary people and tell their stories. In less than a week, I met two of them. The next time I begin to feel sorry for myself or think, “No way I’m going to finish all this stuff on time,” I’m going to think about Judge Pamela Goodwine and horse farm foreman Fred Braunm. The first person I met was Goodwine, a state Court of Appeals judge who’ll be the guest speaker at Monday’s 11th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast. Let’s tally how many strikes the first African-American woman to be elected Fayette district judge had against her, shall we? As an infant, she was put in foster care by her birth mother, then adopted by an Ohio couple already in their 50s. Her father was stricken with terminal lung cancer just as she was set to begin a four-year college scholarship at a prestigious university. A year after his death, her mother was shot to death by an uncle, and after 90 days in a psychiatric facility, he was released, only to murder another relative. Her tears weren’t yet dry when she was stricken with a severe case of Crohn’s Disease, with no immediate way to pay for the surgery that might save her. And, oh yes, she’s an African-American. Goodwine is a slender woman who, despite her emotional and physical challenges, looks at least a decade younger than her age of 59. I agree with her contention that Dr. King’s dream that his young children, and other African-Americans, would one day be judged on the content of their character, rather than the color of their skin, has not come to pass. She spends some of her time away from the courtroom talking to children, some of whom have faced some of the roadblocks she did. Her life story and words of encouragement should be inspiring to people of all ages and races. They certainly were to this reporter. A few days later, I met, via phone, another remarkable person: Braunm, foreman of Nuckols Farm in Midway. (His story’s on back page.) A few days after his employers threw him a 50th anniversary party, he told me about his love for the outdoors, and horses, and his second family – the Nuckols’s. At the age of 70, Braunm has no plans to retire, and that’s just fine with the Nuckols. As Mary Jane Nuckols said, “He comes with the farm.” Braunm landed a job there at the age of 20 and never left. He’s formed relationships that will last forever with the people he’s worked for and alongside, and with horses like Monarchos, of whom he said, “Me and him were just like brothers. We got along just perfect.” Monarchos, the 2001 Kentucky Derby winner, died in 2016. Braunm’s wife, Nancy, died two years later. He misses them both, but he, like Goodwine, appears to be a glass half-full sort of person. I think most everyone has days when they don’t feel like rolling out of bed to go to school or work and others when they want to give up. I’ve had my share of both. I’d wager that Goodwine, an African-American judge, and Braunm, a white senior citizen horse farm worker, have had those sorts of days, too. I think they’d tell you what matters is not how many times you fall, but how quickly you get up and, in Braunm’s case, back on the horse. If Dear Readers enjoy their stories in this week’s paper half as much as I did working on them, well, that’ll be just fine with me.