|Name||Louie B. Nunn|
Glasgow, Kentucky , United States
|| March 08, 1924
|Died||January 30, 2004
Aug 17, 2015 07:49pm
|Info||Louie Nunn mourned in native Western KY, all around Kentucky |
By Ronnie Ellis and Stacy Neitzel -CNHI News Service
Those who knew former Gov. Louie B. Nunn spoke Friday of a man who "did not flinch from doing what needed to be done" and will be remembered as one of Kentucky's greatest governors.
"He put the interests of Kentucky first, and in doing so, sacrificed his future political career," said former Republican legislator and state Supreme Court Justice Walter Baker. "In the eyes of history he will stand as one of the really great governors of the Commonwealth."
Nunn, who died Thursday night at his home in Versailles, was governor from 1967 to 1971. The last Republican governor before Ernie Fletcher's election last fall, Nunn pushed through an increase in the sales tax and vehicle license fees in the 1968 General Assembly. The sales tax increase was forever called "Nunn's nickel" by his political opponents and Nunn never won another election.
Nunn's closet friend in Logan County was long-time Republican leader Russell Porter, who helped Nunn see what needed to be done here while he was governor.
Porter talked about Nunn's role in bringing Carpenter Co. and the Boy Scout Camp at Wildcat Hollow to Logan.
"We put the base on 44 miles of county road and built roads into E.R. Carpenter and the boy scout camp," he said. "He also played a big role in making Shakertown at South Union open to the public."
Nunn, who was here often the last couple of years campaigning for his son, Rep. Steve Nunn for governor, told the N-D&L that Logan County needed a lot of help when he became governor.
"Logan was one of those counties that Democrats tended to take for granted because they knew they were going to get most of the votes here, no matter how little was done for the county," he reasoned.
"Counties that were too close to call often got most of the perks." Nunn felt he righted many of those wrongs.
"He entered the governor's office and found similar conditions to what we are going through today," said Barren County Republican Party Chair Golda Walbert, who was close to Nunn for years. "He always had the bigger picture in mind."
"He walked with kings, but he never lost the common touch," said Walbert, using a famous quote. "Even in his greatness, he was seen as one of the common people."
John Robert Miller was one of those with whom Nunn was lifelong friends. He was shocked and saddened by the news Thursday evening of Nunn's passing.
Miller campaigned for Nunn in his races for Barren County Judge in 1954, his gubernatorial campaigns in 1963, 1967, and 1979, and a U. S. Senate race in 1972.
"This state is really going to miss him," Miller said. "I know I am going to miss him."
Joe Lane Travis was Nunn's law partner at one time and later served in the General Assembly.
"He was great for Kentucky," Travis said. "He had the last scandal-free administration. He always put the people first."
Travis said Nunn was "almost like a brother to me. He was a fellow of the highest character."
While the tax increase ended Nunn's future hopes for elective office, Baker said, "he laid the financial base upon which future governors could build."
Baker praised Nunn's overhaul of the state's mental health system, commitment to public education, and his improvements to the state's highway system.
"He developed road systems linking the southern part of the state in ways we'd never had before," said Baker, who was a freshman legislator in 1968 when the General Assembly passed Nunn's tax proposals. He said Nunn was responsible for the biggest boost to public education prior to passage of the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act.
Nunn served on the board of trustees of several of the state's universities, including the University of Kentucky, and he established Northern Kentucky University when he was governor.
Walbert said Nunn was a source of many funny political stories about the people he'd encountered during his political career. But he told those stories, Walbert said, "with tenderness -- never with malice."