The Woodford Sun

Versailles, Ky.


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Recent Obituaries

February 23, 2012



John Mitchell Alcorn, 90, of Lexington, husband of Cynthia Greenup Alcorn, died Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012.

Born Jan. 3, 1922, in Beattyville, he was the son of the late John and Ethel Jones Alcorn. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army, attended the University of Kentucky and was a postmaster in Midway. He served in World War II, the Korean Conflict and Vietnam War. He received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and many other medals given by the military. He was an active member of Crestwood Christian Church and several other organizations. He enjoyed baseball and was an avid Atlanta Braves fan.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Pamela (Charles) Layell, Lexington; a brother, James P. (Ruth) Alcorn, Lexington; two grandchildren, Andrea Baker and Alissa (Steve) Cress; and numerous great-grandchildren. A brother, William P. Alcorn, is deceased.

Services were conducted Tuesday, Feb. 21, at Milward Mortuary, Southland, Lexington. Burial was in Camp Nelson National Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association.



Johnny Byrd, 89, of Versailles, widower of Jennie F. Byrd, died Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012, at his home.

A native of Woodford County, he was the youngest of 13 children of the late Augustus and Mattie Byrd. He joined the U.S. Army at age 18, after having worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps, and served in the 54th Cavalry. He worked as a laborer on the Manley farm growing tobacco, worked at Keeneland Race Track a number of years, and retired from Texas Instruments in 1985. He was a member and deacon of the First Baptist Church, a Sunday school teacher for boys, and was the coordinator and administrator of the Steele Cemetery for over 25 years.

Survivors include four children, Sarah Byrd, Versailles, Johnny (Faye) Byrd, Versailles, Kattie B. Campbell, Louisville, and Augustus (Maria) Byrd, Grayslake, Ill.; 11 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Services will be conducted at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at First Baptist Church by the Rev. Dr. Floyd Greene. Military honors and burial will follow in the Steele Cemetery. Casket bearers will be Greg Muir, Kevin Thompson, Shane Franklin, Sean Franklin, André Davis, Gregory Jacobs, Lougo Campbell, and Scott Jones III. Honorary bearers will be Steve Franklin, Henry Lee Johnson, and the Rev. Lewis Johnson. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. Saturday until time of service at the church. Blackburn & Ward Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Memorials are suggested to First Baptist Church or to Hospice of the Bluegrass.

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Juanita O. "Nita" Creth, 83, of Versailles, died Saturday, Feb. 18, 2012, at her home.

Born and raised in Woodford County, she was the daughter of the late John Hamilton and Mary Caise Creth. A graduate of Simmons High School and Fugazzi Business College, she is best remembered as a childcare teacher in Versailles’s Jack and Jill Kindergarten during the 1940s and ’50s.

"[S]he was the first and probably only black teacher that hundreds of white children experienced" in Versailles at that time, wrote Marilyn B. Allen, daughter of former Jack and Jill owner Mrs. Robert Allen, in an e-mail to The Sun. "This kindergarten was privately owned … and was the only kindergarten in the area. Juanita worked with (my mother) for 20 years. She was unique for her time and a very well known citizen of Woodford County."

Ms. Creth retired from the Kentucky Revenue Cabinet after 25 years of service. A longtime member of St. Paul A.M.E. Church, she served in numerous capacities, including as a Church Mother, served on the Usher Board, as a trustee, treasurer, and finance secretary.

Survivors include two sisters, Christine C. (Dan Sr.) Collins and Bettye Creth Wesley, both of Versailles; and numerous nieces and nephews. Six sisters, Leola C. Estill, Estelle C. Middleton, Shirley C. Wesley, Eva C. Collins, Ethel C. Kennedy, and Gladys C. Schafer; and a brother, John Creth, are deceased.

Services will be conducted at 1 p.m. today, Thursday, Feb. 23, at St. Paul A.M.E. Church by the Rev. James E. Smith. Burial will follow in the Steele Cemetery. Casket bearers will be Herbert Bush, William Douglas Smith, A.J. Cobb, Michael Smith, Bruce Granville, Bert Stinson, Lonnie Jackson, and Freddie Washington. Honorary bearer will be Norman L. Morton. Visitation will be at the church from 11 a.m. today until time of service. Blackburn & Ward Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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Viola Denisa Rowe Gross, 90, of Taylor Manor Nursing Home, Versailles, widow of Dr. Rodney T. Gross Jr., died Monday, Feb. 20, 2012.

Born Aug. 25, 1921, in Danville, she was the daughter of the late Robert Rowe Sr., and Hortense Moore Rowe. She graduated from Bate High School and attended Knoxville College and later transferred to Kentucky State University. She graduated from Kentucky State University with a degree in English and social studies. She taught high school in Missouri for one year after college and later moved to Columbus, Ohio, to live with her aunt. She and her husband opened Gross Veterinary Clinic in Grayson in 1957 and expanded it in 1981. She served as office manager for 35 years until her husband died in 1992. While residing in Grayson, she served on several national, state and local boards and committees. From there she moved to Frankfort and completed her book, "Two Hundred Years of Freedom," and published it in 2003. She received the Frankfort/Franklin County Branch of the NAACP " Woman of the Year" award in 2005. She was a member of St. John A.M.E. Church, Frankfort.

Survivors include a son, Rodney T. Gross III; three grandchildren, Michael Gross, Crystal Gross, and Rodney T. Gross IV; a great-grandson, Cameron Gross; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and extended family members. A son, Dr. Gregory Gross; a sister, Ruth Rowe Robinson; a brother, Robert Rowe Jr.; and three other siblings are deceased.

Visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, at St. John A.M.E. Church, 210 W. Clinton Street, Frankfort. Services will be conducted at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25. Additional visitation will start at 12 p.m. Saturday at the church.



Mary Adelaide "Mayme" Hamby, 86, of Lexington, widow of Calvert "Red" Little and Sidney Ray Hamby, died Monday, Feb. 20, 2012.

Born in Manchester, she was a daughter of the late Ted and Glennie Johnson. A professional pianist, she played and entertained throughout Central Kentucky. She was a member of Central Christian Church, where she served as a deacon, a choir member and played the carillon bells.

Survivors include three children, Glenn (Lisa) Little, Midway, and Rex (Julianne) Little and Laura (Wayne) Chapman, both of Lexington; two siblings, George (Margaret) Johnson, Louisville, and Teddy Lou Bryant, Bowling Green; two grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be conducted at 2 p.m. today, Thursday, Feb. 23, at Milward Mortuary, Broadway, Lexington. Visitation will be from 12 p.m. until time of service.

Memorials may be made to Ashland Terrace, 475 S. Ashland Avenue, Lexington, KY 40502.



Robert V. Hess passed away at home on Feb. 16, 2012, surrounded by his wife and family. He was born in Vienna, Austria, on June 16, 1917, the son of Joseph and Adele Hess.

He leaves behind his wife of 64 years, Jane Strange Hess, formerly of Versailles. Other family members include Jon Mark Copeland and his children, Leonard and Carol Lohman and their children; and Charles and Eleanor Dempsey and their children and grandchildren. Bob and his wife resided on the Peninsula, first in Hampton and then in Newport News since 1959. Bob completed his undergraduate studies at Vienna Polytechnic Institute. In 1938 his father sent him to the United States to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following his studies at MIT, Bob enlisted in the United States Air Force. He was stationed at Wright Field in Ohio for two years. He began his career at NASA in 1944 at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics which was NASA’s predecessor organization. Bob is best known for his contributions in the area of fluid dynamics for aerodynamics and explosion phenomena, plasmas for re-entry vehicles and space propulsion, lasers and passive atmospheric sensors. Bob was especially proud of his first NACA paper. Excerpts from that paper later appeared in two textbooks on fluid dynamics. His findings were widely published over a period of six decades. He is an internationally known expert in laser technology and atmospheric sensing. Bob has helped organize international meetings on these topics. Bob redirected his section at NASA from studies of plasma propulsion to the then infant field of laser atmospheric sensing. The results were the first use of tunable dye lasers for Differential Absorption Lidar measurement of atmospheric species, tunable dye lasers for water quality measurement, development of the Laser Heterodyne Spectrometer and early work on Doppler Lidar wind velocity technology aeronautics and atmospheric sciences applications using CO2 lasers with catalysts for long life operation. He, with his branch, developed new solid state laser technology that has played an important role in the Lidar Atmospheric Sensing Experiment and the Atmospheric Wind Sounder program at Marshall Space Center. After more than fifty years service at NASA, Bob retired in 1995. At that time he was awarded a Distinguished Research Associate position, in which he was an active participant for sixteen years. During that time he worked in many areas collaborating with a number of colleagues. Bob was a longtime member and supporter of the Rotary Club. Both Bob and his wife, Jane, were members of the James River Country Club and long standing members of St. Matthews Anglican Church.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Matthews Anglican Church, 215 Main St., Newport News, VA 23601.

A memorial service will be held in Newport News at a time and place to be determined. Burial was in Amherst, Va., where a private graveside service was held on Sunday, Feb. 19. Arrangements were entrusted to Driskill Funeral Chapel, 201 Grandview Dr., Amherst, Va.

(Paid obituary)


Lilly Mae "Ms. Lilly" Johnson Wright, 87, of Midway, widow of Jack Wright, died Thursday, Feb. 16, 2012, at the home of her son Larry Wright.

Born Aug. 5, 1924, she was the daughter of the late Jim and Katie Johnson. She was a graduate of Midway High School and a member of Midway Christian Church. For a time she was a member of Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church at Duckers Station. She retired from the state highway department (service and safety) in 1989. In 1993 she moved to Versailles and lived there until the year before her death.

Survivors include a brother, James (Gertrude) Johnson, Midway; three children, Billy (Wanda) Wright, Midway, Larry (Donna) Wright, Richmond, and Kathy (Albert) Khalil, Blythewood, S.C.; six grandchildren, Wayne Wright, David Wright, Ronya Gunter, Tareck Khalil, Nelson Wright, and Travis Wright; and 12 great-grandchildren. In addition to her husband of 46 years, a sister, Marjorie Johnson Diamond, is deceased.

Graveside services were conducted Monday, Feb. 20, at Sunset Memorial Gardens by the Rev. Heather McColl and the Rev. Todd Lester. Casket bearers were Wayne Wright, David Wright, Nelson Wright, Travis Wright, Tareck Khalil, and David Holleran. Clark Funeral Home, Rose Hill, was in charge of arrangements.

Donations may be made to Midway Christian Church.

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