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When speakers at the monthly Elizabethtown-Hardin County Chamber of Commerce droned too long, Edith Dupin threatened them with her cane hook, a not-too-subtle hint to stay within their time limit.
She will be remembered for the hook, and for a bullwhip that adorned a wall in her office which led to her nickname, “The Whip.” It didn’t hurt that her office décor also featured the skin of a bear she shot. She was famous for refusing to accept “no.”
Under her direction, monthly chamber luncheons were the highlight of business and social life. Among her most successful creation was the Kentucky Heartland Festival, which brought thousands into Freeman Lake Park each year. The impact of her leadership cannot be overstated. It will last for generations and reach far beyond Elizabethtown.
She had leadership roles across a broad spectrum of organizations including the local American Red Cross affiliate, Metro United Way, Junior Achievement, Elizabethtown-Hardin County Industrial Foundation, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Elizabethtown, Elizabethtown Planning and Zoning, Elizabethtown Country Club, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executives
She belonged to the Fort Knox Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, Kentucky Industrial Development Council, Kentucky Enterprise Zone Authority and Leadership Kentucky.
She was recognized with awards including the Order of St. Joan D’Arc, Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame, Wilson Wyatt Sr. Award (Leadership Kentucky Program), Elizabethtown Rotary Club Vocational Service Award, School Bell Award (Elizabethtown Board of Education), Millennium Maker-Jefferson County and Honorary Master Tanker (U.S. Army). She was the first female civilian to participate at U.S. Army War College and was the first to be named the Elizabethtown-Hardin County Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year.
Edith was larger than life and about as transparent as Saran Wrap. You always knew where you stood — in her good graces or somewhere else.
But she was more than a champion of others’ businesses. She and her husband owned and operated a Western Auto Store in Elizabethtown for nearly four decades. She was a wife, mother of three, grandmother of two and a sister.
She made no exceptions when it came to time limits, including for herself. In 2007, she stepped away from the role that, to the public, defined her. On Tuesday, at her home in Florida, God prodded her with a hook. Her death last week at age 77 came too soon. But above all else, she respected time limits.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.