Shelby lost many prominent contributors in 2012

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Shelby County lost many prominent citizens, ranging from former magistrates and mayors to a beloved coach to a man who helped our crops grow.

By Steve Doyle

On Sunday afternoon at Simpsonville Christian Church, some friends of the late Ernie Threlkeld are getting together to jam during a special musical service.

Threlkeld would smile at that. As a lifelong music teacher, band leader and performer, Threlkeld was the consummate music man in Shelby County.

Threlkeld, 74, who grew up in Simpsonville as the son of a woman who taught hundreds to play the piano, died in 2012, one of a long list of Shelby Countians who passed away this year.

They made significant contributions to the community, ranging from a 4-term magistrate, David Newton, who died this week, political leaders, such as Don Cubert and Leonard Shouse, business leaders who made great civic contributions, such as George Busey and Albert Moffett, an agricultural official (Roy Catlett), forming the fabric of Shelby County as it is today.

There were simply good people who shaped our lives, such as the former teacher and coach, George Cottrell, and brightened our days.

All of them had a profound effect on the communities in which they lived and the lives of those who lived there.

Threlkeld, by example, worked as band director in the Shelby County school system from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s. He was a graduate of the University of Louisville with a music degree and also taught music in Jefferson County and Eminence. He was a jazz musician, a car enthusiast and a retired boat racer.

“He had a fantastic way of getting the best from his students and would do absolutely anything for them,” former student Kenneth Byrdwell said at the time of Threlkeld’s death. “He had very high standards and would work endlessly to achieve them.  All of his students loved and respected him. He will be greatly missed.”

Byron Cutshaw, who now lives in Spencer County, said he will always remember the music of the Rusty Pipes, a band Threlkeld started and in which he was a member.

“We played music by the greats, the big band music of Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller,” he said. “I’m trying to resurrect that band, now,” he said. “I told Ernie about it the last time I talked to him, and I told him we need a saxophonist.”

It’s some of those people who will play at Simpsonville on Sunday.

But if you are looking for measurable contributions, you might start with Cubert, 83, who served on the Shelbyville City Council from 1982 to 2003, except for the year, 1995, when he served as interim mayor.

“He was a mentor to me, and he was one of my trusted advisors when I became mayor,” Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty said. “I relied on his knowledge and wisdom. I’m really going to miss him.

 “He was a very humble man, and he was a good team player, a good listener, and he always kept an open mind,” he said. “He served on a lot of different boards and commissions. He really cared about this community, in fact, he ranks right up there at the top of my list of people who have cared more about this community than anyone I’ve ever met.”

Busey, 88, was a longtime farmer known far and wide for his civic mindedness, his love of his community and his character.

“He loved his community, and he loved giving back to it, through the Bagdad Ruritan Club, or however he could,” said Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger, who lives in Bagdad. “And he was one of the nicest individuals I ever met. He always had a smile and a handshake, and he always treated everyone with the utmost respect.”

Rothenburger said he always admired Busey’s dedication to farming.

“He had one of the most immaculate farms that ever was,” he said. “He worked it up until he had a severe stroke a few years ago. I mean, he would get out there and work from sun up to sun down. He just loved farming.”

Shouse served for 11 years in Simpsonville’s government in the 1970s and ‘80s and helped incorporate it into the commission form of government under which it operates today.

“A lot of the ordinances that he put in place we still operate by today,” Simpsonville Mayor Steve Eden said.  “His big thing was getting sewers into the city, getting the city incorporated and starting out as its first mayor.”

Although he wasn’t an elected official, business owner Albert Moffett, made long-standing contributions to Shelby County’s growth and development.

Moffett, 82, took over the family business, Snow Hill Florist and Nursery, and ran it from 1953 to 1973 and then was instrumental in getting the Shelby County Industrial and Development Foundation started, serving the first board as its secretary.

"He just stepped down from board of directors about seven to ten years ago," said Bobby Hudson, the president of the board. "He was fantastic for us, with a quick, bright mind. He brought a lot to the table.

"We needed jobs to keep our best and brightest coming back after college, and Albert knew that," Hudson said. "He was exactly what we needed. Early on, we not only had to sell Shelby County to the industries, we had to sell the people to the idea of industries, and he knew that."

Roy Catlett, 73, was an agriculture extension agent for more than 30 years in Shelby County, and he was known as the farmers’ friend.

“Roy dedicated his whole career to agriculture in Shelby County,” said Doug Langley, one of the county’s largest ag producers. “In my eyes, he was as great a help to agriculture in Shelby County and as good a friend to Shelby County farmers as anybody’s ever been. He never had a problem helping anybody.

“There are no words to say how great a guy he was.”

Said Harriett Jennings, who worked with Catlett in the extension office:  “He was just so friendly and so kind to people; he really knew how to make them feel comfortable,” she said. “He was just the kind of person that you were proud to call a friend.”

Similar words also were said of Cottrell, 46, who lost a short but fierce battle to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – commonly called Lou Gehrig’s Disease – and whose funeral was attended by hundreds in the SCHS gym. Cottrell was a football and track coach and teacher at SCHS and also a prominent leader in the community, showing that leadership right up until the very end.

“His spirit was just tremendous,” said Todd Shipley, who worked with Cottrell at Shelby County High School. “You’d get a random text from him, ‘How’re you doing?’ or ‘Have a great day.’ From him, there was never a why. He was always upbeat and positive.”

 “It’s a great loss,” said Superintendent James Neihof, who also taught with Cottrell at Shelby County High School. “He was a great friend and a great friend to the kids.”

Some other prominent Shelby Countians who passed last year:

  • Martha Donovan, 88,  was a former co-owner of Smith-McKenney Drug Co., along with Bill Borders and  William “Shug” Hickman and one of the primary woman business owners in Shelbyville.  “I grew up in the pharmacy, so I’ve known Martha all my life,” said Judge Charles Hickman, Shug Hickman’s son. “I was born when dad was in pharmacy school, so my job, from whenever I could start working, was in the pharmacy. Martha was a genuine, humble person, and she was everybody’s friend. She was loyal to her family, and she treated everyone with honesty and respect.”
  • Bob Logan, 81, was a longtime businessman in one of the county’s most well-established family businesses in Shelby County, but he will be remembered as much more than one of the owners of Logan’s Uniform Rental and Logan’s Healthcare Linen Supply. He was also an outstanding athlete who was known for his support of the Kentucky Wildcats and being a good guy. “Everybody liked him; he got along with everyone very well,” said his brother, Howard Logan Sr. “He was just one heck of a nice guy.”
  • Wayne Ward, 90, was a minister to a president (Bill Clinton), confidant of the famous (Martin Luther King Jr.) and known as a great encourager to all. “What people will remember him best for hands down will be as an encourager,” said Jay Tigner, pastor of Finchville Baptist Church. Said Geoffrey McGillen, minister of senior adults at First Baptist Shelbyville: “I know that was a time when Kentucky was not that embracing of civil rights, but Dr. Ward was always supportive of Dr. King and his ministry.”
  • Mary Anderson Burks, 90, displayed a love of humanity and animals extended to all living things, her friend Jane Mitchell said. “She loved flowers and gardening, and she loved helping people,” Mitchell said. “She was so kind. She meant so much to me. I treasured her friendship, and I will miss her, but I know that she is happy now, because she is with [her late husband] Joe again. She loved him so much.”
  • §  Edward Burton Cook, 102, was one of Shelby County’s oldest residents.  “He was our oldest member, and up until just a few years ago, you would never imagine he was that old,” Burks Branch Baptist Minister  Billy Betts said. “I remember seeing him on top of his roof where he lived at the mobile park near Kroger, cleaning the leaves off, even after he was well over one-hundred years old. And everybody would tell, him, ‘Get down, we’ll do that for you,’ but he would always just smile and go ahead with what he was doing. He was very self-reliant.”