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By JENNIFER RAYMOND
It may not be reflected in the Kingston City Council minutes, but you can be sure “Mayor Edith’s” absence from the audience has been noticed.
Edith Miles, well known for her sense of humor and her dedication to all things Kingston, was sent to the hospital after suffering from a brain aneurysm about a month ago.
“She’s probably attended more council meetings than any other person,” said Jack Muecke, a lifetime friend.
Things were touch-and-go for a while, but Miles, while still hospitalized, seems to be on the mend.
That’s good, because friends and family say she likes to keep up with what is going on in Kingston.
Muecke said Miles has been asked several times to run for a seat on council, but would not. He figures she feared that side of politics would have changed her.
“Maybe that’s the reason; she didn’t want to be ruined,” Muecke said.
Mayor Troy Beets said she didn’t have to hold office to have influence.
“She didn’t need to belong to participate,” he said. “That could be part of her charm.”
Some of her friends even jokingly call her Mayor Edith.
Darleen Trent and Robert Bailey, both members of the Roane County Heritage Commission, said they even set up a fake campaign booth one year with signs that read, “Vote Edith Miles for Mayor.”
“She’s a good target for our practical jokes,” Bailey said. “Some people can’t take them, but she can.”
Miles has one eccentricity that makes her well-known during the voting season — she makes it a point to be the last person to cast her ballot in the city.
“She’ll wait around at the booth to be the last one,” Trent said.
One year the courthouse called Miles because she hadn’t shown up to vote.
Rachel Parker, a friend of 50 years, said there was a reason she didn’t show.
Miles didn’t like either candidate.
“She’s didn’t vote,” Parker said. “She’s that strong headed.”
Miles, who is known for being headstrong and opinionated about politics, is a loyal Republican and a member of the Roane County Republican Women’s Club.
“She gives her opinion to any politician within earshot,” Trent said.
Miles collects elephants, the symbol for the Republican party. Trent said that she probably has the largest collection of anyone.
“She even has her Christmas tree decorated in elephants,” Trent said.
Not only is Miles involved in city politics and the Old Roane County Courthouse, she is also very involved at her church, Bethel Presbyterian.
She has been in charge of the church’s nursery for 41 years.
Perhaps her nurturing nature stems from being an older sister to her two younger brothers, Harvey and J.B. “ Buddy” Miles.
“It speaks highly of a person to be that much of a good Christian,” Parker said.
Her nurturing spirit also extends to the sick and elderly. She has stayed with many people day and night while they were ill.
Muecke said Miles has a love for people, but it is just as clear she has a love of Kingston.
She can be seen at sporting events, council meetings and visiting at the Old Courthouse.
Miles was the grand marshal of the Kingston Christmas Parade last year — dressed to the nines in colonial garments.
“That will just add to her legend as a town character,” Trent said.
She is also known for her dancing at the Kingston Country Fair, especially when she’s the only one on the dance floor.
Bailey said one of her favorite numbers is “Rocky Top.”
“You can’t say Edith is shy,” he said. “When she does things like that, it makes people smile.”
“We’ve had many a good time together,” Parker said.
Many Kingstonians have seen Miles walking around town. She gets out on the hot, steamy days and the bitter cold ones.
Often she’s wearing one of her many hats, like the yellow one woven from Dollar General Store bags.
The doctors attribute her making it through the brain surgery to the walking that kept her in such good health, Buddy Miles said. He said they were told most people with this type of aneurysm don’t make it.
“Her heart’s as strong as an ox,” Parker said.
“Only Edith could survive this,” Bailey added.
Miles is currently at St. Mary’s Medical Center in Knoxville, where they expect her to stay for another week or two for rehabilitation.
“She’s too feisty to stay down long,” Trent said.
That was clear even in the critical stages, when she was being airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
“We heard she was chatting all the way to Nashville,” Trent said. “She was probably asking them if they were Republicans.”
While there, she received more than 100 cards from family and friends.
“They told us they’ve had celebrities in there who haven’t gotten as many,” Buddy Miles said.
Family and friends have set up a bank account at Citizens National Bank on North Kentucky Street.
They are asking people to make donations to help Miles and her family pay for medical costs.
“The expenses are going to be phenomenal,” Muecke said. “We felt like she has friends that would like to help her in this time.”
Donations can also be mailed to Bethel Presbyterian Church at 203 S. Kentucky St., Kingston, TN 37763.
Loved ones expect her to make a full recovery and soon get back to life as “Mayor Edith.”
“She’s one of the few town characters left,” Parker said.