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Long-time community leader dies

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By Calen McKinney

Frances Clinkscales often told strangers she loved them, and she meant it.

Clinkscales, a long-time civic and community leader, known to many simply as "Miss Frances," died Wednesday at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown after an illness. She was 78.

In February 2004, Clinkscales told the News-Journal that she truly really meant the phrases that had come to define her in the community: "Hey, pretty pretty" and "I love you."

She said the phrases to nearly everyone she met.

"I really mean it when I say that and you would be surprised at how much something little like that can do to people," she said in 2004.

"It doesn't cost me anything to be sincere ... It's just part of me. It's just as much a part of me as breathing."

Clinkscales was a long-time and current member of the Campbellsville City Council, Greater Campbellsville United and many other civic organizations.

She lived through the years of racial strife that accompanied integration and the Civil Rights Movement.

"It made me stronger," she said in 2004 for a story in the News-Journal's Black History Month series. "I learned to be forgiving, how to try to love everybody, how to treat people how they like to be treated, how to be as helpful as I can be and do whatever I can."

Clinkscales spent many years of her life caring for others as a nurse.

She graduated from Campbellsville's then all-black Durham High School in 1949 and went on to Howard University in Washington, D.C. to study nursing.

Clinkscales worked as a nurse in Bluefield, W.Va., Long Island, N.Y. and Washington, D.C. She then returned to Kentucky and worked at Ireland Army Hospital in Fort Knox for 31 years, beginning in 1955.

Some of Clinkscales' other community involvement included serving on the Lake Cumberland Redevelopment Services Board for eight years, the Senior Citizens Board, the Kentucky Parole Board for four years, Habitat for Humanity, the Campbellsville University Advancement Council and the Campbellsville Family Resource and Youth Services Council.

During February each year, residents could count on seeing Clinkscales at the majority of the events celebrating Black History Month.

These events are good ones, Clinkscales said in 2004, but she thought more community involvement was needed.

"At most of the events there are mainly only black people there," she said. "I just pray one day we will live in peace and harmony."

John Chowning, chair of Greater Campbellsville United, said Clinkscales was a great supporter of the mission of GCU and will be missed.

"The death of Mrs. Frances Clinkscales leaves a vacuum in the leadership of our community. She displayed Christian servant leadership in every sense and worked to bring people together across lines of race, ethnicity and economic status, which is the core mission of GCU.

"Her warm smile and heartfelt expression of love to each individual she met will be missed," he said. "Mrs. Frances spent her life in working to improve her community and state and to advance the cause of racial reconciliation.

"Our loss is heaven's gain, and we celebrate in the knowledge of Mrs. Frances' departure to be with the saints of eternity. Her life and legacy should serve as a challenge to all of us to carry on her work of bringing people together and improving their lives."

Clinkscales also spent her time lobbying for dialysis research and funding.

In June 2007, Clinkscales told the News-Journal that she suffered from complete kidney failure and underwent regular dialysis treatments at the Taylor County Dialysis Center. She was instrumental in beginning the center.

Clinkscales also served as a DaVita Patient Citizens ambassador, one of many around the world who work to improve the quality of life for dialysis patients through education and advocacy.

DaVita is a nationwide, nonprofit, patient-led organization open to dialysis and pre-dialysis patients and their families. DaVita is also the company that runs the Taylor County Dialysis Center.

Clinkscales said last year that she was the only DaVita ambassador from Kentucky. She said she volunteered for the position because she wanted to help spread the word about kidney failure and its treatment.

Part of her duties as an ambassador included testifying at Congressional meetings before lawmakers.

Talking in front of lawmakers might make some uncomfortable, but Clinkscales said she wasn't nervous at all.

"I just talked to them like I'm talking to you."

One of those lawmakers, Rep. Ron Lewis, was a close friend of Clinkscales'.

"Mrs. Clinkscales was a devoted community leader, a determined advocate for social justice and a very dear friend," Lewis said Thursday. "Her spirit will live on in the hearts of so many who have been touched by her remarkable life."

Clinkscales received the Richard Ramsey Servant Spirit Award last year at the annual Campbellsville/Taylor County Rescue awards dinner.

Rescue Director Dan Durham said last year was the first year for the award, which is named in memory of Bro. Richard Ramsey. The award will be presented annually to an individual or organization that exemplifies the qualities of compassion and a willingness to help people.

Durham said Clinkscales was a loving and caring person.

"I can say without hesitation that I sit here with tears in my eyes as I think about her," Durham said. "She was one of a kind. I don't believe I ever met anyone as caring and loving as her. She always brightened your day.

"I know she had to be in such discomfort as she came to City Council meetings so many times, but she always made you smile."

Campbellsville Mayor Brenda Allen said Clinkscales cared about the community and was a great friend.

"[She] was one of the most community-minded people I have ever known," Allen said. "She really cared about this community and worked hard to make Campbellsville a better place to live.

"I know she attended the Habitat for Humanity, Greater Campbellsville United and City Council meetings many times when she did not feel like being there but she cared and wanted to do her part," Allen said.

"She loved everyone and was quick to tell them how much she loved them. Miss Frances is going to be missed by many people. She was more than a Council member to me, she was a great friend and I am going to miss her a lot."

Councilman Stan McKinney served with Clinkscales on the Campbellsville City Council for several years.

"Miss Frances was a wonderful person. She made everyone feel special," he said. "I had the privilege of knowing her for many years and in many capacities. It was an honor to serve together with her on the City Council. She served her community in many, many ways. I will always remember her smile and her genuine concern for people.

"She spoke honestly, acted in the best interest of all the people and told it the way it is. I will greatly miss her."

Campbellsville resident Damarco Richardson, Clinkscales' cousin and a pallbearer at her funeral, said everyone called her "Aunt Frances."

He said he and his brothers spent a lot of time at Clinkscales' house with her and her son, the late Everette Earl Clinkscales.

"It was always, 'Hey baby,' or 'Pretty pretty,'" Richardson said.

"Everyone in the neighborhood loved her. She was a female role model. She really was," he said. "She was just a great lady.

"Everybody really loved her. She'll be missed."

Clinkscales was the daughter of the late Everette Earl and Eloise Carr Gaddie.

She was married to Earl Clinkscales, who preceded her in death.

Survivors include a granddaughter and her spouse, LaQuita and Christopher Goodin of Campbellsville; two great-grandsons, Quentin Goodin and Tre' Goodin, both of Campbellsville; seven nieces, Lavada Gaddie, Ledietrich Sloan, Margo Dawson, Brenda Byrd, Pamela Gaddie, Prentice Spaulding and Franceda Mudd; and special friends, Vernon Wilburn, Campbellsville Mayor Brenda Allen, Susan Walters and Rep. Ron Lewis.

Visitation for Clinkscales is tonight from 5 to 8 at Campbellsville Baptist Church. Funeral is tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Campbellsville Baptist Church. Burial will follow in Crown Hill Cemetery.

The Revs. Skip Alexander and Daniel Corrie Shull will officiate. Lyon DeWitt Funeral Home in Campbellsville is in charge of arrangements.

A complete obituary for Clinkscales appears on page 5 of today's issue.

City Council seat

Campbellsville Mayor Brenda Allen said she will recommend someone to fill Frances Clinkscales' unexpired term on the Campbellsville City Council. The seat must be filled within 30 days.

Council members must approve Allen's recommendation.

The Council's next meeting was scheduled for tonight. However, in order to accommodate visitation for Clinkscales at the funeral home, that meeting has been rescheduled for next Monday at 7 in the City Council room above the Campbellsville Police Department.

Campbellsville voters will select new Council members in November. Clinkscales had filed to run for re-election.

Taylor County Clerk Mark Carney said Clinkscales' name, however, will not appear on the General Election ballot in November.

Eleven names will appear, he said, and space will be open for voters to cast their votes for a write-in candidate.

Carney said potential write-in candidates can file for the race until 10 days before the November election.

The top 12 vote getters will be elected to the Council, Carney said, with one being a write-in candidate.

He said a similar situation happened about 10 years ago when only 10 people filed for the 12 Council seats.

- Staff Writer Calen McKinney can be reached at 465-8111 Ext. 235 or by e-mail at reporter@cknj.com. Comment on this story at www.cknj.com.