On September 27, at the state Capitol in Frankfort, former Justice Bill Cunningham will be honored with the unveiling of his portrait, which will hang on the second floor. The artist is nationally known portrait painter Tom Edgerton of Greensboro, North Carolina. Funds for the commission were collected by friends of Cunningham statewide. The fundraising drive was led by former Secretary of Fish and Wildlife and close friend Tom Bennett of Frankfort.
The good news for our region is that Cunningham insisted that before the portrait would finally hang in the Capitol, the people of far west Kentucky would have a chance to view it.
There will be a reception and viewing of the portrait, open to the public at 4 p.m. October 4, in the Caldwell Circuit Courtroom in Princeton.
"I was so appreciative and humbled by the number of people in this area who made contributions that I wanted them to have a chance to see their finished product without having to travel that long distance to Frankfort." Cunningham explained. "Plus, it was here I started my career and I owe the people of this far west Kentucky area a great deal. This is a small way of showing my appreciation."
Cunningham's long legal career began in 1974 as public defender of the inmates at the Kentucky State Penitentiary. In 1976 he successfully ran for Commonwealth Attorney for the newly formed 56th Judicial Circuit, which consisted of Caldwell, Livingston, Lyon, and Trigg counties. For the next 26 years, he served that circuit as both Commonwealth Attorney and later Circuit Judge. He left the Circuit Judge seat in January 2007 after being elected to the Kentucky Supreme Court from the First Supreme Court District. He retired last February after 12 years on the state's highest court. His regional office during that time was located in Princeton.
While Caldwell Circuit Judge in the mid-1990s, he spear-headed a community drive to restore the old circuit courtroom including its windows and balcony to their original splendor. The courtroom today is one of the grandest and historic in the state. The reception on Oct. 4 will be in that courtroom.
For more information about the event call Mike Cherry at 270-832-9079 or Bridgie Miller at 270-836-0239.