Jun. 10—Every year on her dad's birthday, Larinda Agee, daughter of late District 1 Magistrate Larry Combs, would have biscuits and gravy with her father.
Since her father's passing in December 2020, Agee admitted she had dreaded the June 10 date.
However, when the day arrived on Thursday morning, Agee decided to keep the tradition with her father going.
Agee went to the cemetery to have breakfast with her father for his birthday — biscuits and gravy, like always.
What she did not know, was Madison County officials were planning a special surprise.
"(Judge/Executive) Reagan (Taylor) texted me one day and said, 'Hey, what are you going to be doing June 10?' Dad and I would always have biscuits and gravy for breakfast, so in my mind, I always dreaded the day of what I would do without him," she said.
Other than that, Agee said she did not know what the plan was.
"All he told me he wanted to do was leave the day open," she smiled. "As the day got closer, they were asking me weird questions like, 'What trees does your dad like?' and 'What was his favorite color?' But I thought, 'Alright something is happening.'"
She had no idea — on what would have been her father's 70th birthday — the county would unveil a special bench dedicated to Combs' 38-years of service to Madison County.
County elected officials, department heads, staff and loved ones of Combs gathered at Battlefield Park for an unveiling and dedication ceremony.
They shared stories of their time with Combs.
With the help of his granddaughters, a blue bench with Combs' own signature etched on the monument was unveiled.
The bench aptly faces the rolling hills of Berea — which was the district he represented for many years.
Alongside the bench was a tulip poplar tree, which is said to have been Combs' favorite.
Agee said she had no idea, but the bench, dedication and thought, were perfect.
"That's dad's favorite shade of blue and all I said was, 'He likes blue,' but that is exactly it," she said. "That looks like his signature on good days and when he was able to write well, and he came (to Battlefield Park) a lot."
Before the emotional unveiling, Judge Executive Reagan Taylor and others in attendance on Thursday spoke about Combs.
Many, including his daughter, attested to Combs' extensive humor.
Agee said her dad picked her name, Larinda, which is a combination her mother's and father's name — as somewhat of a joke.
"When I was born our pastor welcomed my mom and dad and me and said, 'Larry and Belinda had a child, Larinda!' It was a joke, but he kept it," Agee laughed. "I always asked him why he named me after a joke, but said that he liked it."
Another who spoke on Combs' behalf, was Madison County Coroner Jimmy Cornelison, who played basketball with Combs at Madison Central High School.
"Larry and I had a great relationship, and kind of like Judge has, Larry — I don't want to say he was opinionated, but Larry was opinionated —and we have had many conversations with county government, the coroner's office, the ambulance service and all these things in the past," he said. "But just like what has been said here, at the end of the day, if you needed something Larry was going to be there regardless of what it was.
"What he brought to this county, what he brought to this district, I don't know if we will ever be able to figure it all out," Cornelison said. "I really don't. He was a hustler, always was one, and he is missed. "
Judge Taylor led the remarks and stated he did not want a big ceremony to do the unveiling, because it was straight from the heart, and special for the family.
"Larry, even though we did have a few ups and downs and good discussions, I respected that man a lot," Taylor said. "When we lost him, and I wasn't able to get his packet together for him that Friday, it bothered me. It was meaningful, and I truly cared for that man."
Before closing, Taylor said Combs was always proud of the work he did for his district.
According to Taylor, the longtime magistrate would proudly boast often that there were "No gravel roads in my district."
"He was very proud of that and I think that goes to his long years of service and how much he fought for the first district," Taylor said.
Several other magistrates spoke on his behalf, including Magistrates Tom Botkin and Roger Barger, who sat alongside Combs in fiscal court.
They, along with others who spoke, couldn't help but share funny stories and large amounts of respect for their colleague.
"Larry and I had an up-and-down relationship as far as court and voting on things we would be completely opposite on some things," Barger began. "But at the end of the day, Larry always told me, 'If you need me, you call me.' And I knew he meant it for everybody."