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Contents:
Program 1406

1. the Jesse Stuart Foundation
2. Judy Geagley teddy bears
3. a FIRST Lego League competition
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Boyd County

For more information:
Jesse Stuart Foundation, 1645 Winchester Ave., P.O. Box 669, Ashland, KY 41105, (606) 326-1667 or (800) 504-0209

Producer, editor: Brandon Wickey
Videographers: Dave Greider, Brandon Wickey
Audio: Noel Depp, Roger Tremaine


Literary Legacy

the Jesse Stuart Foundation

Jesse Stuart, one of Kentucky’s most prolific and best loved writers, celebrated the Appalachian people in hundreds of stories, novels, and poems. His writing extols the values of hard work leavened with humor, connection to the land, and commitment to family and neighbors. On this edition of Kentucky Life, we visit with the people who are charged with carrying on his legacy.

One of the first big projects for the Jesse Stuart Foundation, chartered under the supervision of the author in 1979, was to work with the state of Kentucky to turn land he had accumulated in his native Greenup County into a state nature preserve. After Stuart’s death in 1984, the foundation underwent a transformation and restructuring, becoming a publisher of Stuart’s and others’ works. A headquarters was established in Ashland, and Dr. James Gifford became the foundation’s first full-time executive director. The following year, he oversaw the publishing of the first book under the JSF imprint.

Gifford, also a professor at Morehead State University, is still the foundation’s CEO and senior editor. The total of printings and editions now stands at more than 100 and includes titles by Allan Eckert, who comments on the foundation during our visit, as well as Billy C. Clark, Harry Caudill, historian Thomas D. Clark, and other chroniclers of Appalachian life and culture. In keeping with Stuart’s own commitment to education—his years as a classroom teacher were the basis of one of his most famous books, The Thread That Runs So True—the foundation also publishes educational materials and sponsors school and community presentations and events. In 2000, the Jesse Stuart Foundation moved into a historic building that used to be Ashland’s post office and opened an on-site bookstore.

Kentucky Life visited Jesse Stuart’s W Hollow homestead in Program 420. For more links and information related to the author, see the December 2002 bookclub@ket program, a discussion of Stuart’s short-story collection Come Back to the Farm.

Watch This Story (7:33)




Lewis County

For more information:
• Judy Geagley, Route 1, Box 90A, Tollesboro, KY 41189, (606) 798-2017

Producer: Valerie Trimble
Videographer: Jason Robinson
Audio: Brent Abshear
Editor: Jim Piston


Broadway Bear

Judy Geagley’s teddy bears

In 2003, the producers of a Broadway revival of Gypsy starring Bernadette Peters needed just the right teddy bear to serve as a prop. Hundreds of bears were “auditioned,” and the winner in the end was a creation affectionately named Tattered Old Bear by its designer—Judy Geagley of Tollesboro.

Judy and her bears were no strangers to Manhattan. The Lewis County crafter has participated in several New York International Gift Fairs, and Tattered Bear can be purchased at high-end department stores in New York as well as Chicago and Beverly Hills. But a role on Broadway was still quite an achievement, especially considering Tattered Bear’s humble beginnings. Like all of Judy’s creations, he was made from fabric scraps and discarded garments, assembled and stuffed by hand by Judy and her husband, Gordon.

The two of them started making bears in 1987, hoping to earn enough extra money from their sale so that Judy could stay home with their children. Now the kids are adults, and the whole family participates in the making of bears that are sold around the world. Judy’s knack for turning all kinds of leftover fabric into cuddly critters has also led to a sideline business: People seek her out to turn garments or bed linens they’s inherited that have sentimental but not necessarily practical value—military uniforms, quilts, worn coats, etc.—into bears that preserve the memories associated with the original piece in a more huggable form.

Watch This Story (9:58)




Warren County

For more information:
FIRST Lego League

Producer, videographer: Cheryl Beckley


Science in Action

FIRST Lego League competition

As the home of Hilltopper sports, Western Kentucky University has seen a lot of exciting competitions over the years. But here’s one with a bit of a twist: an engineering and problem-solving contest that pits kids, their imaginations, and their hand-built robots against a real-world science challenge.

It’s the Kentucky state finals of the FIRST Lego League competition, an international event designed to promote creativity, collaboration, self-esteem, and problem-solving while sparking enthusiasm for science and technology. Open to kids between 9 and 14, each year’s competition is built around a particular scientific theme. Students form teams and work under the guidance of adult mentors to research a real-world problem related to the theme, write a report on a proposed solution, and build an autonomous robot for competition day that can negotiate a variety of challenges while carrying out assigned tasks.

Created by the Foundation for the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) and the Lego company, FIRST Lego League has involved young people in 45 countries. In the event featured here, from 2005, the challenge was built around ocean resources and activities.

Watch This Story (4:22)




McCracken County

For more information:
National Quilt Museum, 215 Jefferson St., Paducah, KY 42001, (270) 442-8856


On Location

Dave Shuffett hosts this edition from the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, now known as the National Quilt Museum. Home to a permanent collection of hundreds of quilts of all sizes and styles, the museum offers workshops and other educational programs in addition to permanent and rotating exhibitions.



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