Chances are that if you lived or worked in Williamsburg for very long, and you heard someone mention the name “Nannie,” then you immediately knew who they were talking about.
Nannie Hays was a Williamsburg icon.
Many knew her from her days as the beloved longtime band teacher at Williamsburg High School.
Others knew her from her time as Williamsburg’s first and up until now only Main Street Manager, and through other work she did in the community.
In many ways, Nannie Hays was to Williamsburg what the character of Norm was to the fictional television bar “Cheers.” It was a place where everybody knew her name.
I joined the long list of people, who were shocked when they learned of Nannie’s passing Friday.
I’ve probably known Nannie for 25 years. I first got to know her as the band teacher at Williamsburg High School, and as the faculty adviser for the yearbook.
Back in the days before everybody had a cellphone with a built in camera, pictures were a little harder to come by, especially if you were over the high school yearbook. Over the years Trent Knuckles and I sent Nannie many pictures, particularly ones from sporting events so she could put them in the yearbook.
While being the band director and yearbook adviser drove her crazy at times – (she would have been the first to concede that it would have been a short drive many days…LOL) – Nannie loved doing both jobs and particularly her students.
Among the many things that Nannie was most passionate about, Williamsburg was at the top of the list.
Most people probably don’t realize that when Nannie became the Main Street Manager, she worked for the first six months without any pay in order to free up money for the program to get some needed things, such as a computer for starters. When she did start receiving a salary, Nannie only got paid $500 a month despite putting in numerous hours.
She did it because she wanted Williamsburg to be better. Nannie organized the community block parties at Bill Woods Park each summer. She helped organize the community yard sales that are held at the Williamsburg Tourism Center many months of the year, assisted with Old Fashioned Trading Days, and helped get Williamsburg’s historic district officially certified.
Sometimes I used to go by the tourism center just to chit chat with Nannie. She was a hoot, and someone that would tell you what she thought whether you agreed with her or not. I loved both qualities about her.
There will never be another Nannie Hays.
She is someone, who both the town and myself, will greatly miss.
Now to touch on a couple of other subjects.
• I stopped by Colonelfest in downtown Corbin a couple of times Saturday. One of the biggest problems for outdoor festivals and events is that their success is largely dependent on the weather, which was lousy to say the least Saturday. All things considered though, I thought the event brought out a decent crowd, and a lot of vendors. I think Corbin Tourism Director Maggy Kriebel has laid the foundation for something that could turn into a nice annual event.
• I stopped by the Eastern Kentucky Dramatic Arts Society (EKDAS) festival for a few minutes Saturday, which was held at Whitley County High School for the first time.
I caught a sneak peek of the play “Alibis” that the Whitley County Colonel Players will be performing for the public on Friday and Monday at the school amphitheater. This comedic murder mystery, whodunit and howdunit is pretty entertaining, and funny.
I recommend checking it out if you get the chance. It will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday at the Whitley County High School Amphitheater, and at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 3. Admission is $5.