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His Grace, the Duke of...Hazard?

Published 09-26-2011 7:46 AM | Mark D. Birdwhistell  

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Do you know what Pope John Paul II, former president Bill Clinton, UK basketball coach John Calipari, and I all have in common? We are "Dukes of Hazard". In fact, Craig Ferguson, host of the Late Late Show on CBS, listed "Duke of Hazard, KY" under the "citizenship" column of his biography. (Craig Ferguson wasn't a citizen of the U.S. until 2008) Other former dukes include George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Robert Kennedy, Diane Sawyer, and former Governor Wendell H. Ford.

So, what is a "Duke of Hazard"? Well, there's a story behind it. The late Hazard, KY Major William Dewey Gorman started making visitors an honorary citizen of the city by awarding them a plaque noting they were a "Duke of Hazard". As you can tell by some of the names above, Mayor Gorman did a great job of promoting his great city!

I was presented the honor by Mayor Nan Gorman in the company of my good friend Richard Crowe, Executive Director of the United Way of Southeastern Kentucky, during the annual event showcasing United Way's accomplishments throughout the year. I was very pleased to see a fantastic turnout from the citizens and even more pleased to celebrate the great success achieved by my good friends at United Way. 

Jonathan Curtright and Dr. Richard Lofgren were also given the honor on this night; however they were unable to attend.

I must say that I had been excited from the moment I heard I was going to receive the "Duke of Hazard" honor. The honor meant a lot to me because my wife Martha is a native of Hazard and her parents, Herman and Imogene Maggard, have been good friends of both Bill and Nan Gorman for a long time. 

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Richard Crowe, Executive Director of United Way of the Southeastern Kentucky

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 Receiving the "Duke of Hazard" certificate from Hazard Mayor Nan Gorman

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