On Monday, I discovered that one of my dearest friends, Eve Oakley, had passed, and my heart all of a sudden felt an emptiness. Eve’s legacy in the Georgetown-Scott County community will never be fully appreciated because, in many cases, she was behind-the-scenes. If you knew Eve like I knew Eve, that does not seem unusual…even though she is easily remembered as being center-stage in the spotlight.
Eve had already made a large footprint in this community long before I arrived here. She was co-owner of a very popular restaurant off South Broadway/Lexington Road near the old airport. It was gone by the time I arrived, but I heard quite a number of stories about it. I don’t want to say it was “Fava’s South”, but it surely was an active meeting place for the community as well as various chat’n’chew bunches.
Eve was busy with several things in the mid-1980s: her activities with the Council of the Arts and Parks & Recreation boards, each one adding another layer to her civic accomplishments. She was also, even at that time, a columnist for the Georgetown News & Times, writing the spritely and popular “Eve’s Apple,” a slice-of-life column that was, until she was no longer able to pen it in the 2000s, the longest-existing in county newspaper history – and having run in the News & Times, The Graphic and the Georgetown News-Graphic.
It was through her personal fitness training and aerobic businesses that she became affiliated with the Chamber of Commerce, and she used that bully pulpit to deal with some of the community’s great needs, as she perceived them. A list is legion, but two in which I was involved (and thus can personally attest to the herculean amount of work Eve put into them, in the board room and in the field) were the Beautification and Cleanup arm of the Chamber and returning to Scott County a local unit of the American Cancer Society.
Growing out of the former were roadway cleanups, creek cleanups, re-starting city and county spring cleanup days with the landfill, highway and park Adopt-a-Spots, and most memorably (in conjunction with Scott Fiscal Court and several trash hauling firms) the removal of several dump-truck loads of refuse from New Zion.
From the latter were established Love Lights a Tree and an event of which Eve was most proud, the Relay for Life, both fundraisers for the fight against cancer and, in true Eve Oakley fashion, fundraisers that also got all the folks of the community together, working as a whole for a cause. Gathering people was her chief forte.
Talking earlier of Eve in the spotlight, as the Festival of the Horse became Scott County’s premiere event Eve began hosting fashion shows for local clothing businesses. The two I remember best were at Court Square, between the Courthouse and City Hall, and on the Georgetown College campus. This became a natural extension of her personality and, as Georgetown became famous as the home of Toyota, you could always find Eve hosting this or that gathering of local residents and would-be residents. No one was more comfortable at the mic and dais than Eve.
I know and have known many people in Georgetown and Scott County, in my years there and far after into today and many were of a remarkably iconic nature that is hard perhaps for those living in the community now to understand. But Eve Oakley leaves a tremendous legacy behind, a footprint that will be extremely hard to fill.
Be at peace, my friend Eve. I will always love you and already miss you.
Byron Brewer is a former managing editor of the News-Graphic. Semi-retired, he now handles freelance public relations for Dynamite Entertainment. He can still be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.