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Sunday Morning Briefing 12-11

By Staff | Dec 11, 2016

Randalyn Foltz talks to Santa on Saturday at Phillips Drug Store in Sistersville.

Good morning Tyler County.

Former congressman and W.Va. Secretary of State Ken Hechler passed away Saturday.

More on that in a minute.

Saturday, Phillips Drug Store of Sistersville had their annual Christmas celebration which included a talk with the big man Santa. More on that will appear in the next edition of the Tyler Star News.

The Camerlin family continues to make this holiday tradition memorable for many folks. Thanks.

More than a 100 kids met with Santa. Afterward, children had an opportunity to make some crafts or pick up a crayon to do some coloring.

At the beginning of a bad day for this editor, one moment shined brightly as the kids were making their festive bracelets. Three-year-old Randalyn Foltz carefully crafted a colorful beaded bracelet with jingle bells. When the little girl was done, she did something that almost brought a tear to my eye.

Foltz gave me the bracelet she had made. I was moved, stunned by her kindness. She had no reason for doing this because, except for a few photos I had taken of her talking to Santa, I was a complete stranger.

I can still see her generosity play out in my mind. She finishes the bracelet, rises from her chair, looks up and then gestures for me to accept the bracelet. I nodded and thanked her. I drew strength from her kindness all day and maybe for the rest of my life.

As a journalist, particularly one with my skill set, you tend to see the worst in humanity. I’m not going to relay those horrors or reflect on the sometimes daily disdain I get as a member of the media.

Her act felt was almost like a baptism of my soul. It’s rare, but when I experience something like this — pure, noble, beautiful — it restores my faith in people.

I want to pass on that experience and that feeling to anyone reading this note.

And for that, I have faith that Santa will set this little girl up right on Christmas morning. I’ll say a prayer that Randalyn will always know joy and have a blessed life. Thanks Randalyn.

On that note, the little girl’s kindness and generous spirit conjures up fond memories of a long ago interview with a man who joined the ages Saturday. Ken Hechler, 102, lived every day of his life to the fullest. Carpe Diem.

Hechler, a Democrat, served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1959 to 1977 and was West Virginia Secretary of State from 1985 to 2001.

Hechler was a speech writer for President Harry S. Truman from 1949 to 1953. He worked on Adlai Stevenson’s presidential campaign against Dwight Eisenhower in 1956. The man walked with Dr. Martin Luther King in Selma, Ala., the only congressman to do so. In past election cycles, Hechler made a bid for governor and secretary of state.

Hechler’s book, “The Bridge at Remagen,” was adapted into a popular movie about the capture of the last standing bridge on the Rhine River during World War II. Hechler was serving with the 9th Armored Division when the bridge was captured.

This editor interviewed Hechler as he was running — he was in his 90s — for U.S. Senate in 2010. Politics aside, Hechler was one of the best interviews I’ve ever had. He was jovial, knowledgeable and sharp as a tack about history much of which he experienced as few men do. We talked about the war, Nuremberg, Civil Rights and more, much more. His knowledge was refreshing to this writer, an academic time traveler whose charge is recording the first draft of history.

Hechler was real — what you saw was what you got. Rest in peace.