In June 12-18 issue
By Greg Wells
Times Journal Managing Editor
LEFT: Mae Hoover during a 2006 interview at her radio stations, WJRS-WJKY.
JAMESTOWN - It was truly standing room only as friends from far and near came to pay their last respects to Mae Hoover Tuesday afternoon.
"We tried to make it a celebration of her life," said one of her sons, Jeff Hoover, currently the Minority Leader in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
He described how each of her grandchildren had a roll to play and of the video slide-show they had put together.
"They started work on that and worked all day on it," said her other son Joey Hoover. "They wouldn't let any of us see it. It was just a grandkids thing."
When shown at the ceremony, it passed the test.
"She'd have really liked it," Jeff said.
By all accounts Mae Hoover was closely involved with her grandchildren, as she had been with her children.
She did it all while running a radio station, working on various boards and charitable groups, and at one point even serving in the Kentucky House of Representatives.
"Welby had always wanted to be a State Representative, and after he was elected he went to the orientation," Mae Hoover said in a 2006 interview. But sadly it was just a week later that her husband passed away.
So January of 1987 she won his seat in a special election, and with a family and a business that she still had to see to, she was off to Frankfort for two special sessions and one regular session of the Kentucky General Assembly. With that out of the way, Hoover said she declined to run again.
That interview was in the fall of 2006 when she had returned to work part-time at the radio station after battling lymphoma.
It was a battle she'd won, but a war she was destined to lose. Joey Hoover said her health had been bad for some time recently, but things took a turn for the worst weekend before last.
He said when the doctor asked her to go to the hospital Monday it was confirmed that the cancer had spread to her brain.
She went into the hospital to stay, and the family began constant visits.
Joey said the physician and the staff kept her comfortable, but she was sleeping a lot and not able to visit as much, until just a few minutes Wednesday.
"She looked up and asked Jennifer, 'Where are the boys,'" and he said his sister told Mae they were out in the hall and went to get them.
"She told us 'I want you all to promise to get along,'" Joey said. "And we told her we all would.
"Then she told us to live our lives by the lessons she'd taught us from the book. And we said we would," He explained.
Joey explained how his sister Jennifer had told their mother it was okay, that they would be okay, and how Mae told them not to worry about her that she would be okay.
"Then there was this little pause and nobody was saying anything. I don't know how long it lasted but then Jeff spoke up and he said, 'And we promise not to vote for Obama.' And she just laughed and laughed," Joey said.
She was a staunch Republican, with a very large capital R from start to finish and participated actively in local politics, in addition to the social cause she supported like the station's yearly food drive for the needy.
"I have seen her take out one of her own checks and start writing when she didn't feel like we had enough in the food drive," said Tony Kerr, Circuit Clerk, past employee and life-long friend of the family.
It was the people she cared about though not the causes, Kerr indicated, and it showed through in her 2006 interview.She gets misty and her gravely voice cracks as she talks about the days when she and her husband Welby would deliver the food at Christmas which the station's food drive had collected.
One story in particular stops her. "I went up to the door," Hoover begins. "It had seven Christmas lights around it and I knocked on the door. "She said a woman answered the door and started to scold one of the small children in the house for holding the door open too wide and letting in the cold.
Hoover related what the child said when she told them they had brought a food basket.
"The least little one said 'Momma, momma, we've got something to eat now,'" she repeated again what she had said and stopped talking for a little while.
Kerr said "If ever anyone had a second mother she was mine. I started working at the station when I was 15 years old. And you know when I'd get done at night they would come and drive me home."
Kerr drove Joey and his family to the hospital Friday, after Jeff had called the station and told them they needed to be there.
"Jennifer told her: 'Mom you don't have to wait, it'll be okay. Just give dad a hug and a kiss when you get there,' and she smiled," Joey said.
But she did wait, and the family had that painful luxury of being together at the end.