My friend Sam Piatt died on June 25 at the age of 88. He was a much-loved man and a much-respected journalist.

Like thousands of others in northeastern Kentucky and surrounding areas, I enjoyed his weekly column in The Daily Independent, where he had worked as a full-time news reporter for 30 years. After he retired in 1998, he continued writing his outdoor column until his recent death.

Sam’s columns reflected his life, a life of loving God, his family and the great outdoors. He had a lifetime of adventures that he shared with us on a weekly basis.

Sam was born in Fullerton, graduated from South Portsmouth High School, and attended Cedarville College and Ohio University before earning a B.A. degree from Marshall University in 1992. As a young man, Sam had been a starter on the varsity basketball team at Cedarville College. Later, he provided 29 years of military service.

His wide-ranging accomplishments included authoring two books. The Jesse Stuart Foundation published his first book, “Men of Valor,” 10 years ago. It was a solid piece of non-fiction that detailed the World War II experiences of 65 combat veterans from eastern Kentucky and southern Ohio. The book sold more than 1,000 copies and is currently out of print.

His second book, “That Summer of ’45,” is a novel published by Adam VanKirk at Right Eye Graphics. It follows the outdoor adventures of six boys who lived in a small Kentucky river town. It is an enjoyable read, a sort of “boyography” that captures a thinly disguised version of portions of Sam’s early life.

To commemorate his life and accomplishments, the Jesse Stuart Foundation reprinted 48 copies of “That Summer of ’45.” This book is the August selection of the Regional Readers book group that will meet on Tuesday, Aug. 30, in the former JSF Conference Room (now Right Eye Graphics). Coffee and conversation at 2 p.m.; book discussion at 2:30 p.m. The book group is open to all and new members are always welcome.

“That Summer of ‘45” is available at the JSF Bookstore at 4440 13th Street in Ashland, or it can be ordered by telephone at (606) 326-1667 or by visiting the website jsfbooks.com.

DR. JAMES GIFFORD is CEO and Senior Editor of the Jesse Stuart Foundation.

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