CHAPEL HILL -- A Marshall County man who danced with Jimmy Carter's wife and painted all over the county, died in his Unionville Road house, a victim of fire on Tuesday morning.
Landon Haynes, 83, "was a big Democrat," according to his son, Jeff, and family friends who were at the scene of the blaze extinguished by four fire departments - Berlin, Chapel Hill, Farmington-Rich Creek, and Unionville - with help from the Emergency Management Agency.
Lightning from a thunderstorm at about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday struck a utility pole at the end of Haynes' driveway, several firefighters said, awaiting confirmation from Fire Marshall Adam Barnes, who said his department's policy prohibited him from making statements to the press.
The lightning's charge went to Haynes' house and started the fire, according to assessments from several experienced firefighters. Haynes was found just inside his back door, several officials said.
Andy Walls of Chapel Hill said Haynes "was a fine fellow," and recalled over lunch at the Country Diner that it was in 1977 when Haynes' dance with Rosalynn Carter hit the county paper.
"We attempted to make an attack in the inside," Chapel Hill Fire Chief Kenneth Runk said. "The heat and flames were too intense and we had to back out. We attempted that a second time with the same result."
Retired Shelbyville Fire Chief Garland King who was "raised down the road" from Haynes' home, said the fire victim "used to paint everywhere."
Haynes' son said his family "had some ladies ... stay with him during the day. He was a retired painter. He painted forever in Marshall County and sanded down floors.
"He had saddle horses and he and mother used to square dance," Haynes said of his parents' hobbies.
Faye Haynes died a few years ago.
"Let's Dance" is painted on the side of Landon Haynes' red and white Ford pickup truck. The sign on the back indicates he was a member of the Spotted Saddle Horse Breeders and Exhibitors Association.
"He was one of those who grew up poor and saw the world change," Jeff Haynes said.
Landon Haynes was a member of the Cedar Grove United Methodist Church in Bedford County.
Lawrence Funeral Home was to be in charge of arrangements, Haynes' son said at the fire scene.