Board honors VanLandingham for his service

Tue, 03/14/2006 - 5:57pm
By: John Thompson

The usually staid environment of the Fayette County Commission meeting room was filled with red eyes and tears Thursday night as the Fayette County Commission paid tribute to Commissioner A.G. VanLandingham, who died in December, early in his second term.

The County Commission decided to honor his legacy by presenting his family with a rocking chair. Traditionally, when a long-time employee retires from the county, a rocking chair is given to the employee to enjoy the golden years.

In introductory remarks, Commission Chairman Greg Dunn hoped that some of VanLandingham’s grandchildren would rock in the chair and remember “Pa Pa.”

“This is very difficult, but it’s something we wanted to do,” Dunn said.

Dunn told the misty-eyed crowd that VanLandingham was truly a man of the people and he handle his battle with cancer in a dignified way.

“He only missed two meetings, and during some of the other meetings, he had to self-medicate himself. I would ask him if we should recess for a while, but he would say no.”

Dunn said he learned VanLandingham had cancer on the same day he discovered his own sister had cancer.

“They had never met, but the first question Van always asked me when I saw him was how was my sister doing,” Dunn added.

VanLandingham’s wife, Jo, along with grandchildren, and other members of his extended family sobbed softly as they listened to the chairman’s recollections of the late commissioner’s service to the community.

In accepting the rocking chair, Jo VanLandingham told the County Commission that she actually collected rocking chairs.

“I’m not the speaker in the family; Van was. He took his job very seriously,” she said.

VanLandingham’s daughter, Chris, summed up what many of the county’s staff have said in the last few months.

“It’s just a shame everyone couldn’t have known him,” she said.

As the ceremony ended, the family filed out of the meeting room, while the remaining County Commission composed themselves to do the “people’s business” as VanLandingham always referred to his job.

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