50 Years Since President John F. Kennedy's Assassination

, Posted: Mon, November 18 2013 at 7:02 PM, Updated: Mon, November 18 2013 at 7:13 PM

It was a tragic day that moved the nation. 50 years ago President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. 

However, before he was killed he left his mark in Southern Oregon.

While a half-century has passed since John F. Kennedy was assassinated, some people in Southern Oregon still feel like it happened yesterday.

"I tell ya, I had one of the worst actual worst days of my life," said Wally Watkins, who in 1960 was Kennedy's driver in the Pear Blossom Parade.

According to investigators, President Kennedy was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald while riding in a motorcade through downtown Dallas on November 22, 1963.

"He was coming down the street and my five year old boy and myself were by ourselves on the grass by Palmer Street and I asked Joe to wave to him and Joe waved and I waved at the man ( gets emotional) as he was waving back the shot rang out and he slumped down in the seat," recounted a witness back in 1963.

However before he rode in the motorcade that would end in his death the influential man made a visit to the Rogue Valley.

In 1960, when President Kennedy was a senator, he was in Southern Oregon for the Pear Blossom Festival where he rode down the streets in a brand new, white 1959 convertible Lincoln Continental. That year, he was the festival's Grand Marshal.

From that visit came inspiration to open a JFK museum at the Medford Center.

"It's a celebration of his life," said Joyce Hailicka, who showcases memorabilia in the museum.

But it's his death and the shockingly public way it happened that people still remember so well that still hits home half a century later.

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