Stories: Who We Have Lost
Story aboutLil Press
Our founding Executive Director, Lil Press, passed away on Sunday, April 26th. Lil is a legend! She is not only the founding Executive Director of the Governor’s Scholars Program; she is our Founding Mother. Obviously, she was the mastermind behind the creation of the non-for-profit organization known as the GSP, a State-related organization with the mission of enhancing Kentucky’s next generation of civic and economic leaders; but her true legacy is the conception of the philosophy that supports the mission and vision of the program, the creation of a community of learners. That concept of community still permeates the magic that takes place every summer.
Personally, I met Lil during the Spring Planning Retreat for faculty in 1992. She had just announced retirement. From her words, I vividly remember her passion for young leaders, her interest in fostering a community of citizens concerned for the common good, and her commitment to the future of Kentucky. From her words, I concluded and still believe today that the GSP is not high school, is not college, it is education at its best.
The GSP honored Lil in several occasions in the last seven years. She was invited to attend a final ceremony on one of our campuses in 2013. After the ceremony, she picked up her phone and called Len, her long-time husband and partner, and with tears in her eyes, said “Len, my dream is still the same.” In 2016, she was recognized at the premiere of our documentary Igniting the Flame of Curiosity, dedicated to her. Also, in the Fall of 2016, the GSP honored her at the National Conference of Governor’s Schools (NCoGS) in Louisville, which we were hosting that year. “Without Lil Press, there would be no NCoGS. It is as simple as that,” says Ted Tarkow, a cofounder of the NCoGS from Missouri.
To paraphrase Mr. Tarkow’s words, it was her visionary leadership that led to the creation of NCoGS in 1987, at a gala meeting in Lexington, KY, at which she presided with energy, ideas, and commitment. These same qualities she had brought for several years to the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program, and to public partners throughout her state that shared her conviction that bright and motivated kids deserve to be immersed in summer programs that focus on intellectual, academic and personal growth and development.
After her husband Len, founding Executive Director of KET, passed away last year, Lil had moved to the State of Washington to be closer to their only son. Our current enemy took her away from us, but her legend lives forever in the spirit of the Governor’s Scholars Program.
Story aboutGarry Key
We lost Battalion Chief Garry Key to Covid in February, just two months after losing another member to COVID. He was our longest serving member, having been a volunteer for a remarkable 36 years. Chief Key was a US Army retiree and a former deputy sheriff.
Chief Key was a caring person, willing to give himself to helping others, which is how we believe he contracted COVID. As emergency responders, we still answer calls for service and have contact with the public in other ways. While we wear personal protective equipment, this reduces our risk but does not totally eliminate it.
As such we are treating Chief Key’s death as a line of duty death – one where a beloved member has given his life in service to others.
His passing is very saddening in many ways. It is an irreplaceable loss to those who loved him as well as the loss of an experienced first responder with so much left to offer.
Story aboutRobert Orkies
We lost Chief Rob Orkies to Covid in December. He was our fire chief for well over 20 years and had nearly 10 years experience with another fire department.
Chief Orkies was a caring person, willing to give himself to helping others, which is how we believe he contracted COVID. As emergency responders, we still answer calls for service and have contact with the public in other ways. While we wear personal protective equipment, this reduces our risk but does not totally eliminate it.
As such we are treating Chief Orkies’ death as a line of duty death – one where a beloved member has given his life in service to others.
His passing is very saddening in many ways. It is an irreplaceable loss to those who loved him as well as the loss of an experienced first responder with so much left to offer people.
Story aboutMary Lea Brown
We hadn’t spoken in years and then suddenly she was talking to my mom again. My mom was so elated to have her sister back that she didn’t think about the fact that her sister had abandoned her for years. But I remembered. She showed up at my bridal luncheon and I was friendly, cordial and welcoming. But when she went to leave I followed her to her car and said “this time, you have to stay. You can’t come in and out of our lives like that.” She looked astonished. But she stayed, just like she promised, until she couldn’t stay any more.
Story aboutJeff Jameson
We met at a manufacturing plant in Columbia that made keychains. In those days, most everyone had long hair but Jeff had a shaved head and goatee and he looked scary. He had moved to Kentucky from the Bronx. It turned out we both loved tennis and it became our favorite pastime. He was always better than me and I only beat him a few times. Mostly though I remember sitting on a porch at his place or mine, smoking pipes, and the smell of cherry tobacco wafting overhead, discussing the politics of the day or who won Wimbledon or obscure records. Rest In Peace, brother.