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'The end of an era': Mourners remember Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown at Capitol visitation

Josh James

Family, friends, and admirers of the late Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown gathered for a visitation in the Capitol Tuesday.

Guests filed in past a long shelf full of pictures of former Gov. Brown and signed in before entering the well of the Capitol to pay their respects at a flag-draped casket. One could spot numerous state officials mingling with Brown's family during the four-hour visitation ahead of Wednesday's scheduled private service.

WUKY caught up with Dee Emerson as mourners departed late Tuesday.

"I was certainly sad. It was kind of the end of an era, but I feel so blessed to have known him," she said.

Emerson worked as an assistant to Brown and his wife, sportscaster and former Miss America Phyllis George, for 23 years. I asked her to describe the one-term governor whom many dubbed a "maverick" with a different approach to governing.

"The governor was certainly unique. The motto was 'Run Kentucky like a business' and I think it just brought a new life, a new energy, to politics and I think he and Phyllis loved their time serving Kentucky."
Dee Emerson, former assistant to Gov. John Y. Brown

Brown, a Democrat, served in the top spot from 1979 to 1983, at a time when the state's top executives were not allowed to seek two successive terms.

He passed away at 88 in a hospital in Lexington.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.