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Fred D. Trammell: 1914-2013

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Former superintendent guided county, city consolidation

By Todd Martin

Although he was a native of McCreary County, Fred Trammell left an indelible mark on Shelby County.

He became the superintendent of Shelby County Public Schools in 1961 and guided the school board and administration through the consolidation process that led to the merger in 1975 of the Shelby County and Shelbyville school districts, the year after he retired from the position.

Trammell, who also owned a beef cattle farm in Bagdad, died Saturday at Baptist Hospital East in Louisville. He was 98.

He is survived by his two sons, including Jerry P. Trammell and his wife, Sandra, of Bagdad and his sister, Pauline VanMeter of Shelbyville.

Upon moving to Shelby County in 1937, Trammell began teaching agriculture at Bagdad High School. He would become principal at Bagdad before moving on to superintendent.

Ray Moss Tucker served on the school board during Trammell’s tenure, and Tucker said Trammell’s leadership was instrumental in the merger of Shelbyville and Shelby County school districts.

“He did an excellent job trying to put the district out front,” he said. “He was a very good leader while we were working to get the two districts merged. He deserved a lot of credit for that.”

Tucker, who is also a farmer, said he first met Trammell through the Future Farmers of America.

“I went to a welding class that he was teaching,” Tucker said. “He was very good at that [FFA] and always enjoyed it a lot.”

In FFA is where Trammell first left his mark.

In 1943 he was awarded the Honorary American Farmer award from the FFA, its highest degree. His Bagdad chapter always was received well, at one point being named one of the four best chapters in America.

John Merchant, a farmer in Bagdad, has property that bordered Trammell’s farm, but his connection goes back much further.

“I was a student of his for a few years in Bagdad,” Merchant said. “He was a good teacher. I had him for agriculture and he was in charge of my FFA club.”

Merchant said Trammell’s herd of Charolais beef cattle was well-known, and he recalls Trammell’s being a shrewd businessman when it involved his cattle.

“There was a farm on the other side of his farm [on Trammell Road], owned by a fellow named Clinton Smith,” Merchant said. “The were always going in together on a bull, and Fred Trammell always wanted to make as much as he could on it. So there were some pretty good debates always going on between the two.”

Merchant said he also remembers Trammell’s looking out for the students.

“One time, I remember we were having the basketball tournament in Shelbyville, and Mr. Trammell and I were assigned to take up the money at the gate,” he said. “Well the gym was already packed, and the game had started, and there were a few boys that came up and wanted to get in. They didn’t have the money, so he asked them how much they had.

“After they emptied their pockets, they only had about thirty-seven cents. So he said. ‘Well, give me all that, and I’ll let you in.’

“It was kind of funny. He took everything they had, but he let them in.”

The funeral will be Thursday at 2 p.m. at Hall-Taylor Funeral Home in Shelbyville with visitation from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. today.