'Bigger than life kind of visionary’: Former Pike County Judge-Executive dies at 82

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 11:22 AM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Former Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford died Tuesday night at his home. He was 82 years old.

Rutherford was Pike County’s longest-serving judge-executive, serving in the role three times between 1970 and 2015.

During his career, Rutherford was instrumental in the coal severance tax proposal, worked to open the Pike County Detention Center’s jail farm, pushed for the creation of the Mountain Parkway four-lane, and trademarked Pike County as America’s Energy Capital, among other things.

Pikeville Mayor Jimmy Carter, who is married to Rutherford’s daughter, Kim Rutherford Carter, said the county is better for having Rutherford fighting its fights all of those years.

“A lot of people don’t realize, but he was a pretty big visionary. Bigger than life kind of visionary," Carter said. “He was very forward-moving. Think about where we would be today as a region- as a whole Eastern Kentucky- without the coal severance tax.”

Libraries, senior citizen centers, and volunteer fire departments were also some of his passions during his time in office.

“He has left a very big impression and very big steps to follow on a lot of things that he accomplished,” said Carter.

Carter said the family is overwhelmed by the community support it has received.

“The family wants to thank everyone for all of their thoughts and prayers,” he said. “They’re very grateful and very appreciative of the outpouring of everybody coming together and honoring Judge Rutherford.”

J.W. Call Funeral Home in Pikeville is handling the arrangements.

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