Former Kentucky judge and gubernatorial candidate Tom Emberton — a nonagenarian — died Thursday after heroically saving his wife from a house fire.
The 90-year-old public servant rescued his wife, Julia, from the blazing inferno before venturing back into the home in hopes of saving the Edmonton residence, according to WYMT-TV. Ultimately, the judge and one-time political candidate lost his life.
Emberton campaigned for governor of Kentucky as a Republican in 1971 and was later appointed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1987.
In a statement, Mayor Doug Smith described Emberton as “just the greatest guy in the world to be around,” adding, “He was infectious to everybody. He had a way about him that was really special.”
“He was a friend to many and always a champion of South Central [Kentucky],” continued Smith, who was a friend and fishing partner of Emberton. “His wisdom, kindness, and always sage advice was an encouragement to all.”
Ryan Quarles, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, released a statement of his own following news of Emberton’s tragic death:
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron described the late Emberton as “a good man and a dedicated public servant.”
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also spoke out following the former judge’s death.
The conservative lawmaker — who served on Emberton’s gubernatorial campaign staff in the 1970s — said he was “heartbroken” over his former colleague’s passing.
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“Tom gave me one of my earliest experiences in the rough and tumble reality of political campaigning, hiring me to work on his 1971 gubernatorial campaign,” said McConnell. “He taught me valuable lessons on public service and running as a statewide Republican in Kentucky.”
He continued, “Tom advocated for conservative values across our state and played a key role in organizing Kentucky Republicans at every level, paving the way for me and so many other conservatives to follow in his footsteps.”
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