Thursday, February 22, 2018

Joe Creason's Kentucky

Joe Creason (1919 - 1974)
I've been asked many times if I'm related to Joe Creason.  In fact, the first time I'd ever heard of Joe Creason, it was because a friend of mine, Jack Babey, found his book "Joe Creason's Kentucky" in a garage sale.  He bought it, read it, and then gave it to me.  He said, "I don't know if you two are related or not, but you certainly possess the same sense of humor."  The truth is, I really don't know, but I can see the confusion.  Besides that sense of humor, we're both writers, and both very interested in American history.  Whether we were related or not, he was a pretty interesting guy, so I thought I'd share a little I've learned about him.

According to Joe Creason, Benton Kentucky was "the only town in Kentucky where I was born."  He attended the University of Kentucky, and after his graduation in 1940, he became the editor of the newspaper in his hometown of Benton.  Later he would go on to edit the paper in Murray, Kentucky.  In 1941, he went to work for The Courier-Journal where he worked as a sports and feature writer, and later as a columnist. 

But he was best known for his popular column "Joe Creason's Kentucky" which he began writing in 1963.  He traveled every county in Kentucky to collect material for his column, and he wrote about the colorful characters he met in his travels, and the interesting backwoods places he visited.  Frequently, he retold stories sent in to him from readers as well.  His style was simple, but very funny, and his column became a sensation in Kentucky. 

But Joe Creason was much more than just a sports writer and humorist.  He had a great interest in history as well, and co-wrote the award-winning newspaper piece "The Civil War in Kentucky."

Joe Creason died unexpectedly from a heart attack after playing tennis with a local radio personality.  The park where he died was later named after him--Joe Creason Park.

In memory of his contributions, the owners of The Courier-Journal, his friends, and the alumni of the the University of Kentucky (where he had served as President of the Alumni Association) took up collections and established the Joe Creason Lecture Series through the University of Kentucky School of Journalism.  Every year the lecture series brings in a guest lecturer.  They've had quite a few remarkable speakers since it began in 1977 including columnist James J. Kilpatrick, James Reston of the NYT, Charles Kuralt of CBS News, Bernard Shaw of CNN, White House Correspondent Helen Thomas, and many more.  

So whether or not we were related or not, he was a very funny man, and a most distinguished writer--I don't mind a bit being compared.

~Todd E. Creason, 33°

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