ASHLAND David Wolfford has found an important way to pay tribute to his father's work while documenting history at the same time.
David Wolfford said his father’s writings were a top conversation topic following his passing in 2016.
His father, George Wolfford, was a writer for The Daily Independent (formerly the Ashland Daily Independent) for 40 years, starting in 1958.
“Almost everybody I met said something about what he had written about them or when he had written about this topic and that topic,” said David.
While David had considered doing so prior to his father’s death, it wasn’t until the surge of comments about George’s work that moved him to capture his career into a book featuring his most prominent stories and columns. David also found inspiration from “Mark My Words,” a book containing works from former Daily Independent editor Mark Maynard.
“By George: Articles from the Ashland Daily Independent” features 100 articles in eight chapters divided up into sections including “Ashland and Local,” “Politics and Elections” and “Profiles and Personalities.”
Creating the book was a family affair. David’s mother, brother, sisters, daughters and wife assisted in areas from laying out the book and proofreading to doing photo work. Fellow reporters and local leaders also helped to make the book possible.
David took on the role of editing and compiling his father’s work, which at times was a tedious task. Overall, it took him a year, from June 2016 to June 2017, to find articles that were significant enough to be placed in the book.
Some stories were easier for David to find based on knowing a time period when an article was published, like when a prominent figure visited the area. However, others were more challenging.
“None of these articles were digitized so basically you’ve got to read microfilm and either be looking for a story on a particular date or just scanning microfilm kind of like you would flip through a newspaper looking for his byline,” said David.
David also spent some time asking family, friends, Ashland and regional leaders and his father’s co-workers for notable stories he covered.
He noted the bigger moments in George’s career citing his coverage of when President Lyndon Johnson came to the area in 1964 later followed by a visit from President Richard Nixon in 1972.
Other important moments for George included covering a school shooting at East Carter High School in 1993—a story that gained national attention—and the closing of Armco’s Open Hearth furnace in 1969.
“He worked at Armco for two years before he became a reporter and you could tell the newspaper sent him there particularly because he knew the science of the steel-making process and he knew the people too,” said David.
David looked back on growing up with a father in the news business, saying he and his siblings always knew what was happening.
“He didn’t force this stuff on us but you could just tell that it was important to kind of know world events and local events and local people, that kind of thing,” he said.
Reflecting on his finished product, David said he is pleased with the outcome of the book. He said he believes it’s a good snapshot of the region within the last 50 to 60 years, adding it’s a nice sampling of a writer’s work. He also pointed out that people should consider getting a copy just to have a record of history within the area and said it could also be of interest to journalism students.
Copies of “By George: Articles from the Ashland Daily Independent” are available at the Jesse Stuart Foundation bookstore on 4440 13th St., from the Foundation’s online catalog and at local libraries. Donations are also still being accepted by the Jesse Stuart Foundation for the book.