OpEd

Story published: 05-07-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Remembering a preservation pioneer

Rocking Chair Musings - By Jack Van Zandt

Last week, the Town of Jonesborough, the Jonesborough Kiwanis Club, as well as many others, suffered a great loss in the passing of Bernard (Doc) Kaiman.

He was an inspiration, a leader who was able to translate a vision into a reality and bring people together doing it.

In the 1970s, Doc worked with a small group focused on bringing Jonesborough “back.”

They developed the concept of Storytelling, Jonesborough Days, Christmas events, establishing the Civic Trust, preserving historic buildings, etc.

Doc then advocated for Jonesborough’s restoration through regular newspaper columns and more.

When it was thought Jonesborough was not able to support businesses, Doc bought a building and turned it into a successful business as an example for others to follow.

As a member of the Jonesborough Kiwanis, Doc had 40 years of nearly perfect attendance.

He was always thinking of ideas and leading Kiwanis’ efforts to make money to be given to children’s programs.

The annual Spaghetti Dinner meant the familiar encouragement to “sell, sell, sell” those tickets. Everyone on his list knew they would get a call from Doc to buy a ticket. Few could say no.

At the fair, Doc was always working to make it better, suggesting new food items he had found at other fairs.

Even when he was physically unable to do the work, he was there encouraging us to “sell, sell, sell.”

He never let anything get in the way of his Tuesday morning breakfast with Kiwanis, his dancing lessons, or his workouts at the gym, where he would always complete his workout and charm anyone who would listen with his stories of being a young man of 80, (he was over 90) usually followed with a Schwarzenegger pose.

He loved his Kiwanis southern breakfast, usually augmented with hot sauces labeled “Volcano” or “Bonfire.”

One morning he drove through his parking place, through a wall, and partially into the Senior Center when he arrived at the breakfast.

When an officer wanted to talk to Doc about it, he said he would talk “when I’m done with my breakfast.”

He never gave up.

When he was told he needed a knee and hip replacement, he rejected the doctor’s suggestion that he have them done one at a time. He said to do them both at once because he didn’t have time for two operations.

When Doc and his wonderful wife Audrey were married, they looked for something they could do together for the rest of their lives. They chose dancing.

Over the years, Doc and Audrey learned folk dances from countries all over the world and would not miss an opportunity to teach them to others.

As his health deteriorated, you would see Doc holding onto a table and shuffling his feet, demonstrating how to dance one of his folk dances.

A couple of days prior to his passing, he showed a couple of Kiwanis members how he could raise one leg, and said, “I’m going to get the other leg up soon, then I can dance.”

Few will fully understand the difference that Doc made in the lives of so many people and the town of Jonesborough.

Doc was an inspiration to all with his Kiwanis spirit and his devotion to his wife and to his community.

He will be missed.