The oh-so-lovely Garrett House at 741 N. Fourth St., one of the Bayberry Properties Bed and Breakfasts in Steubenville's Historic District, was the late-afternoon setting Nov. 14 for a VIP reception held for two special visitors to the area.
The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Lecture and Concert Series brought to town former Secret Service Agent Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin, who wrote the best-seller book "Mrs. Kennedy and Me."
"An Historic Evening with Clint Hill" marked the first lecture in the series and was held later in the evening at Steubenville High School where approximately 1,000 people assembled in the auditorium to hear Hill's memories of being the Secret Service agent assigned to protect Jacqueline Kennedy and the first agent to reach the presidential limousine when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
Lori Bortz, right, of the Steubenville area gets her copy of “Mrs. Kennedy and Me” autographed by Clint Hill, former Secret Service agent, while co-author Lisa McCubin observes.
-- Janice R. Kiaski
The reception at the Garrett House gave about 70 guests a chance to not only mingle and enjoy refreshments but also to have a few moments of quality time with Hill and McCubbin. They waited patiently in line to get a copy of the book autographed and to have a souvenir photo taken, courtesy of Christina DiCarlo of Christina DiCarlo Photography of Mingo Junction.
The reception attracted local residents with a fascination for that period in history, including Weirton residents Denise Jansma and Elaine Palavis, and for some visitors who traveled a little greater distance, four of whom were John and Sandy Marshall of St. Clairsville along with Lois Huggins of Moundsville who had bought a ticket as a Christmas present for her brother, Joel Braun of Washington, Pa. I also met Beth and Bill Fairbanks, who likewise made the trip from St. Clairsville after having read in the newspaper about Hill's visit.
Ken Perkins and Suzanne Kresser of Tri-State Financial Services were the official chauffeurs for the visitors, greeting them at the airport and returning them there safely the following day. They enjoyed a meal at Naples restaurant in downtown Steubenville before the reception.
As Sue Hershey, chamber president, said, it was an exciting event for Steubenville to have such guests come to the town.
The commemorative program booklet included a number of JFK-era photographs, including ones that show Hill scrambling to climb into the presidential limousine as Jackie Kennedy reaches across the trunk moments after her husband was shot. There also is a photograph of Hill receiving a citation for "exceptional bravery" during a Dec. 3, 1963, ceremony in Washington, D.C.
I was all of 5 when Kennedy was assassinated and can only remember seeing some of the funeral on television, but like many other people have found that period of our history nothing short of captivating.
Major sponsors for the event included the chamber; the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times; Eastern Gateway Community College; and the Franciscan University of Steubenville with event support also from Bayberry Bed and Breakfast, Apollo Pro Cleaning, Piergallini Catering and Steubenville City Schools.
I look forward to the spring to see what's next on the agenda for the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce Lecture and Concert Series.