In memoriam: Remembering community members lost in 2022

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Dec. 30—Every year, Pulaski County says goodbye to some of its most notable community members, and 2022 was no different.

It was a particularly hard year for the Somerset High School faithful, who lost their current football coach, one of the program's greatest players, one of its most fervent supporters, and another beloved coach and teacher.

But many other individuals, from all corners of the county, passed away in 2022. And all their individual stars continue to burn brightly, in the hearts and memories of those still here. Many of them were subjects of stories by the Commonwealth Journal, for their wealth of contributions to the community.

The following is by no means a comprehensive list of those who died locally in the year now concluding, but it is a look back at some of the familiar names who were profiled in the Commonwealth Journal upon their passing, to honor their memory and their tremendous legacies.

On January 11, Stephanie Foster, a first-grade teacher at Burnside Elementary School, passed away suddenly at age 40, with her death related to COVID-19. Pulaski County Schools Superintendent Pat Richardson called it a "devastating impact for that school community." Foster had been with the county school system for 17 years, starting first at Shopville Elementary before coming to Burnside. Richardson noted that because she taught first grade, Foster had had most of Burnside's students in class.

In March, two prominent members of Pulaski's community of faith passed from this earth. Dr. Harold Brown, a longtime pastor at Oak Hill Baptist Church, passed away at age 80 on March 18. When he wasn't busy leading worship at church, he was busy with one of the 13 foreign mission trips he ministered in, leading a daily radio broadcast called Basics for Living, or championing the cause to educate on the Ten Commandments, which led to them being placed in the county courthouse and a subsequent lawsuit that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Brown was also a driving force behind the creation and development of Somerset Christian School.

Rev. Larry Nichols died not long after, on March 21 at age 74. Ordained through the United Methodist Church Kentucky Conference, Nichols was pastor to many churches throughout the commonwealth — most recently "filling in" at the Somerset First Church of the Nazarene just before his passing — and started Arise Ministries. He wrote two books, as well as a column that ran in newspapers throughout Kentucky and Tennessee that largely focused on the Bible's influence on politics and government. Over the years, he was inspired to run for office himself, from a state representative campaign at the age of 24 to magistrate and finally a state senator campaign in 2020.

Also that month, noted community barber Bill Hubble died at 88, on March 16. Hubble worked at his shop at 105 E. Mount Vernon Street for nearly five decades, after buying the shop in April 1969 from its previous owner, Faubush Weddle. He held onto it until 2006 when he sold it to his fellow barber Jeff Todd, but stayed on at the shop, working until his official retirement in 2015. Even the likes of U.S. Representative Hal Rogers himself went to Hubble to make his hair look professional.

On April 5, Mike Simpson, former CEO of Cumberland Security Bank, died at age 69. Along with being CEO of Cumberland Security, Simpson served as its executive vice president and its director. He also served on the board of directors for organizations such as the Bankers of Kentucky and was the director of the advisory board for the Bankers Service Corporation. He was also part of local organizations ranging from the Rural Community College Initiative, the Somerset-Pulaski County Development Foundation, the Pulaski County Library Board and the United Way of South Central Kentucky.

Within the span of only about a day, two iconic figures familiar to nearly anyone around Somerset High School passed away in July. Jeff Perkins died on July 13 at age 71 — someone who had played a big role in almost every facet of life at Somerset High School, from teacher to coach of the Briar Jumpers football team to principal to board of education member, and most recently as the administrator of the Alumni and Aquatic Center. Before all that, he was a standout student-athlete, earning the nickname "Slick" for his impressive moves, and earning first-team All-State and even All-American honors.

On July 14, another Somerset teacher and coach, Clifford Randall III, died at age 70. From coaching tennis to being an assistant basketball coach to being an AP History teacher — and taking many students on one of their first major trips away from home by chaperoning summer European class excursions — Randall spend a lot of his time influencing young minds. His tennis teams at SHS claimed multiple regional titles. An avid golfer, Randall also served as president of the Somerset Country Club.

Popular local artist Fred Thrasher died at age 83 on July 17. Thrasher was a longtime Bronston resident, originally from Clinton County, whose works depicted the America of yesterday seen through the eyes of today and was a fixture of the art community for decades, with his final work coming in 2014.

Richard Correll, Sr. died on August 17, at age 82. Correll joined his siblings in being connected to many of the businesses seen in Pulaski and the region. He had his hand in Rite Aid as a major shareholder, as well as being a part of Correll Brothers Inc., Correll Holdings and Correll Enterprises, and was involved in a plethora of business ventures ranging from the coal business to property purchases and diamond brokering to used cars. He also assisted his wife June Correll, music teacher and choral director at Northern Middle School, many times to allow her students to travel and participate in programs across the United States, and helped with the Ferguson Baptist Church's expansion program.

On September 4, longtime county attorney Fred Neikirk died at age 80. Neikirk served in Korea for 11 months. He drove a tank and remained proud of his service until he died. Afterward, he worked his way through law school at the University of Kentucky as a short-order cook, and only three years out of law school, Neikirk was elected County Attorney and held the position for nearly 30 years. Neikirk also loved studying and reenacting battles of the American Civil War.

On September 28, Don White, a familiar name within the pages of the Commonwealth Journal, died at age 74. Most recently a freelance journalist for the Commonwealth Journal, writing "Pulaski's Past" each week, White retired as editor and publisher of The Anderson News in Lawrenceburg, Ky. White got his start in journalism at the Commonwealth Journal in 1970, then left in 1972 to accept a position as wire editor of The Lexington Leader. He also served as editor of the Casey County News in the '70s. White was a Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame 2016 inductee.

One of the people who helped so many Pulaski Countians take care of their own loved one's funeral arrangements passed away in October. James Russell Dick, co-owner and president of Pulaski Funeral Home in Somerset and Morris & Hislope Funeral Home in Science Hill, died on October 18 at age 56. He started working at Morris & Hislope Funeral Home at an early age in the 1970s, under namesakes J.B. Morris and Denver Hislope. In 1992, Dick and Quintin McGinnis became owners of the business, and Dick would go on to become a licensed funeral director. In 2001, Dick and McGinnis purchased Pulaski Funeral Home as well. Dick was also involved in board memberships, notably with Cumberland Security Bank and Citizens National Bank

On November 19, C.V. Weddle, a local local entrepreneur and farmer, died at age 85. He was one of the first farmers in Kentucky to subscribe to the no-till farming method in an effort to reduce fuel usage, run-off, and to promote healthier soil for increased crop output. Weddle was an investor in several real estate projects in Pulaski County, which included the development of Somerset Mall. In the late '70s, he opened Pulaski County Landfill, and later founded Pulaski Sanitation, a residential and commercial waste removal company. Mr. Weddle was also part owner of an asbestos disposal company that became one of the largest companies in its sector in the U.S.

Late in the the year, the Somerset High School football program suffered a couple of impactful losses. Robbie Lucas, the head coach of the football Briar Jumpers, died on November 13 at age 50. Originally from Lincoln County, Lucas came to Somerset in the 1990s as an assistant. He would return years later to replace Jay Cobb as head coach, and was also a history teacher at the school. Lucas would bring the school its first football state championship in 2019, and in all won 114 games and seven region titles, with a state runner-up finish in 2009.

In December, one of the Briar Jumpers' biggest supporters also passed away. Anne Hook Compton died December 23 at age 77. She was known in a variety of roles in the community, for steering his father's Prather Insurance business after he died, helping it reach 100 years in the community, and overseeing the computer lab at Somerset High School, but it was her dedication to SHS athletics that so many in the community best remembered about her. Friend Jon Burlew called her "the queen of the pressbox," running the clock on the scoreboard, and was willing to assist the program in any way needed.