It is true about Al Smith, who died last week at 94.
If you asked him what time it was he would tell you, and also how to build a clock. Al was that way; helpful, friendly, knowledgeable, and loquacious.
He was also everything nice people have been saying about him in stories since his death; a Lion of Kentucky journalism, a mentor to many, a strong supporter of small town and community journalism, and of many of us who knew him individually.
That he died of kidney failure seems ironic for a man who drank himself out of key jobs in one of the most colorful cities for journalism in our country--New Orleans. But he did, and never tried to hide it, or how much he owe AA to his recovery, and to Kentucky and to his wife Martha Helen, too.
You and I, as Kentuckians, helped redeem Al Smith, as he helped redeem us, from decades of Old South conservatism (which now seems rampant again - where is our new Al Smith?) of bourbon and backwater when what we needed, Al was convinced, was more of his (and FDR's) New Deal liberalism.
If journalism was his first love, education was next and he and Martha Helen supported so many projects in both fields it would be hard to list them all, or how much they improved Kentucky in his lifetime. Maybe the arts were next, and ditto.
For those who knew him mainly as the host of KET's "Comment on Kentucky," that alone should commend him to you; another project to help Kentuckians understand life's issues and what might be done about them to improve our Commonwealth.
An UN-Common Man has passed our way, for so many years, and we are now both richer for his having lived among us, and poorer for his passing.
I'm just sayin'...