With the initial objective of publishing her own books and the fiction of her sons, Ross and David, Sylvia founded Grassy Creek Press. Named for the tiny “wide” place in the road near West Liberty, Kentucky where her mother and father were born and raised, it is fitting that the family books and those of other budding authors be published in their honor. As a part of her leadership work, she is driven to help others find their voice, embrace their story and share it with others – be that fiction or non-fiction. For those who don’t know where to begin, she offers her services in helping them get started with appropriate guidance that fits their needs. (pix of Gilla and Arthur, the old barn – that picture of the boys in front of the barn would be good. And the picture of Walter and Alma in front of his new card looking dapper)


Dodging Coconuts


On August 27, 2006 Comair Flight 5191 crashed taking 49 souls to a firey death. It was a humid late summer morning. I was walking my dog and a foul and pungent smell greeted me. Bernie, my husband, the volunteer chair of a regional airport, came running up behind us. Out of breath, he said, “I have to go, Mike has called. There has been an airplane crash.”

We live within a mile of the airport so Bernie’s journey to hell was not distant but little did we know that it’s effects would last a lifetime. As the old saying goes, it takes one fool to throw a pebble in the pond and a thousand geniuses to stop the ripples.

Mike Gobb was the Executive Director of this thriving airport, frequently named one of the top regionals in the country. He could work a room like no other. He had swagger, perhaps some thought, a little too much.

Mike and Bernie arrived at the carnage along with first responders. Bernie was haunted by what he saw that day. I would find him out on the porch in the middle of the night chain smoking – “I can’t get that scene out of my head,” he would say. He remembered the bodies crouched in the standard protective mode…but unlike in the case of the Miracle on the Hudson, none of the 5191 passengers survived.

It was a small community in a small state. Everyone knew someone among the 49 who died. It was filled with the hopes and dreams that we all have: leaving to return to work after a wedding shower, a honeymoon to the Bahamas, a long awaited cruise with a sister.

Interestingly enough, in a bizarre twist, all embarking passengers were caught on a video that recorded their joy as they stepped through the airplane door to their doom. No one knows why the video was operating on that morning. It was not standard procedure.

Bernie was a successful lawyer in town, a board member of choice for that very reason as were all the other highly successful professionals who served. As the airport became the focal point of a community coming to grips with grief, Bernie and Mike spent nearly fulltime with the duties of hiring lawyers for the inevitable blame casting and litigation– the airport was ultimately exonerated – it was plain and simple pilot error.

Only the co-pilot survived so impaired that he cannot remember the crash at all. The hardworking board received only praise for their hard work. Bernie was even the recipient of a stateside award entitled ironically, “board member of the year.” No doubt, he felt he was the “board member of all time.” They had seemingly done everything right, committees, controls on expenditures and more… or so they thought.


Sylvia has also published two other books, “The Little Blue Book of Big Ideas – New Cities in America,” and “The Little Red Book of Everyday Heroes.” Both books explore the best ideas that our cities have offered and the local elected official heroes who make local dreams come true.