The plague of death and despair has visited the Kennedy clan, again. It is apparent that JFK, Jr. has died in a plane crash off the waters near Martha's Vineyard. The Kennedys have been an omnipresence in most of our lives, even here in the hills of Calhoun County.

It was to the mountain state that JFK and his family came in 1960 to perform a litmus test of voter acceptance on his candidacy for the Presidency. It would have been difficult not to have met them. Most of us did.

Robert Kennedy gave a speech in the Calhoun Courthouse on behalf of his brother, and many other campaigners held roadside rallies. JFK spent part of the day in Spencer in a soaking rain. He dropped into O.J. Morrison's Department Store and bought a hat, and then had a hamburger in the Shamrock Pool Hall.

Grantsville attorney, Lorentz Carr Hamilton and Forest Gunn, a local businessman, went to Washington to work in the Kennedy era. Lorentz Carr spent 23 years with the SBA, before returning to Grantsville. He and his wife, Sue, socialized with JFK, Ted, Bobby and other members of America's best known political families. "I have been to their homes on several occasions. Bobby was a great supporter of the Special Olympics. I hold them in high regard," he said.

These many years later, it is difficult not to be brought to tears by the picture of John John saluting his father's passing coffin. JFK, Jr. sent a reporter from GEORGE magazine to do a story about Calhoun's economy in 1996. He somehow managed to rise above many of the problems that seemed to plague the bunch. He worked hard at being a regular guy. Our thoughts and prayers, we extend to the family. BW