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An unlikely role at Ford's D.C. service

OK, we’re serious. This is absolutely, positively, beyond a doubt the last anecdote pointing out local connections to President Gerald Ford. Maybe.

This one comes to us via Emily Stirewalt, whose daughter Lois Stirewalt O’Connor had a unique vantage point from which to view the state funeral for the late president held at the National Cathedral in Washington.

“She was asked to help check invitations at the funeral,” her mother confided. “In other words, she was a bouncer, and the position gave her some great insights” she wouldn’t have had gotten anywhere else.

For example, Emily says, Steve Forbes didn’t have his invitation, “but Lois recognized him and let him in anyway.”

After all, her mother said, he comes from one of the richest families in America, so he got in without his invitation, and being where she was, Lois got to see Mrs. Ford and their daughter, along with former President Carter and Nancy Reagan — and she got to attend the funeral, too.

As director of development for the Air Force Association, O’Connor had contacts in high places who knew she was reliable, and she’ll never forget the experience, her mother says.

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Who said it? “I’m never glad to see anybody die. I’m always glad to see justice carried out.” (Answer below)

* * *

An early lead: Salisbury attorney Bill Graham is the early favorite among Republican candidates in the 2008 governor’s race, according to a new poll.

Graham, who has gotten a lot of attention through his ads opposing a gasoline tax increase, was favored by 24 percent of the Republican voters surveyed by Public Policy Pollings of Raleigh. Among other GOP candidates, N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr had 13 percent, state Sen. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte 10 percent and state Sen. Fred Smith of Clayton 9 percent. However, about 44 percent said they wanted somebody other than the announced candidates.

On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue was the leader, with 32 percent, followed by state Treasurer Richard Moore (20 percent) and state Rep. Bill Faison of Orange County (7 percent). About 41 percent said they wanted someone else.

The Republic survey included 691 likely voters contacted on Jan. 2 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. The survey of 529 likely Democratic voters was conducted Jan. 4-5 and had a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.

* * *

Who said it: The quote is from Rowan County D.A. Bill Kenerly, commenting on his decision to attend the execution of James Adolph Campbell. Campbell is scheduled to die Feb. 9 for the 1993 murder of Katherine Price.

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