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Sat, Dec 16, 2017 11:10 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
This n' That
Time to brag
I'm going to do a little bragging and remembering today, but it has nothing to do with me — believe it or not.

Well, OK, I guess it does have a little something to do with me; I can't write about my uncle without throwing in a few memories of my own here and there.

The uncle I am referring to is Jim Fyffe, who may not be a familiar name to most of you, but he was a treasure to Auburn (Ala.) University basketball and football fans and was despised by the Tigers' rival, the University of Alabama. He died last Thursday after suffering a brain aneurysm, which, needless to say, came as a shock to his family.

Jim was "The Voice of the Auburn Tigers," Auburn's equivalent to Kentucky's late Cawood Ledford. In fact, Jim was mentioned as a possible replacement for Ledford when Ledford retired several years ago.

Jim was born and raised in Johnson County and also got his career started here, thanks to my dad, Paul Fyffe. Dad at one time owned and managed WSIP in Paintsville, where Jim cut his teeth in broadcasting. A lot of people got their start there, including former WKYT newscaster Cliff Fletham, Doug Ormay (known locally as Doug Orr) of Kentucky News Network and even yours truly.

Several years ago, Jim did something I have always wanted to do — write a book. Titled Touchdown Auburn!, the book was Jim's "memories and calls from the announcers booth." Although the book dealt mainly with Jim's career as the voice of the Tigers, it did contain a chapter titled "From the Hills of Kentucky," which discussed his Keaton roots and his family. He mentioned my dad frequently, admitting that Dad had a better voice than him and saying my father "could have been 10 times better than me if he had wanted to."

The Fyffe brothers (who also included Uncle Carl, who died a couple of years before my dad) had always been a mutual admiration society, with my uncles and dad bragging on each other and other family members. I remember when I worked for another newspaper and Jim would call every now and then to renew his subscription. He would always tell me what a good job I was doing and how he wished he could write as well as I did. I took that as a big compliment, considering it came not only from my uncle but from someone who had made it in the big time.

Jim never forgot his roots and would occasionally come to his Flat Gap High School reunions; in fact, I am told that he was planning a trip to the next reunion next month. The last time I saw him was last year when he came in for the funeral of long-time family friend Gail Gillem, a former judge-executive in Johnson County. The last time I saw him before that was when my dad died in November 2000. Isn't it sad that when people get older and move on with their own lives, the only time you see them is at funerals?

As I said, Jim's sudden death came as a total shock to his family. Not only was I sad because I lost an uncle, I was depressed because he was my father's last surviving immediate family member. The last of the Fyffe brothers had passed on.

I was so proud of my uncle and always liked to drop his name whenever I could. Whenever someone didn't know who he was, I would say he was the Cawood Ledford of the Auburn Tigers and that would put everything in perspective since Ledford was as big a name in Kentucky as Jim's name was in Alabama.

Even though Jim is gone doesn't mean I still can't brag about him. I'm doing it now, aren't I, and I will always do it whenever the occasion arises.

Like I said, the Fyffe family is a mutual admiration society.

ARH 2
communities
Noted Kentucky authors to speak
Star gazing set for May 23
Arts Council contest deadline June 2
OLWH recognizes employees
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