Mourners pay final respects to Jones

Published 8:42 am Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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By Tom Latek

Kentucky Today

Well-wishers from around the state came to the Capitol Rotunda on Monday to pay their final respects to former Gov. Brereton C. Jones, who died Sept. 18 at the age of 84, following a lengthy illness.

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Jones served as Kentucky’s 58th governor from 1991-95, and before that as Lt. Governor from 1987-1991, under then-Gov. Wallace Wilkinson. With his wife, Libby, he founded Airdrie Stud in Midway, Kentucky and built it into an internationally renowned thoroughbred horse farm.

Among those who spoke to reporters as Jones’ body lay in state was current Gov. Andy Beshear, who reflected on Jones’ career. “Gov. Jones was one of the first governors to talk about health care as a basic human right, recognizing that every family needed coverage to thrive, and trying to find new ways to cover them.”

Beshear recalled a bit of advice he received from Jones when he became Attorney General. “What he would say is ‘Do what you think is right. You have to be able to put your head down on the pillow at night. There are always going to be critics, don’t listen to them. Listen to the people you are close to, that love you, and will tell you the truth.’”

Former Third District Congressman Mike Ward, D-Louisville, says he got to meet Jones before he ran for lieutenant governor, because one of his best friends from high school was working at Airdrie Stud. “I never met a more honest, honorable or committed public official pretty much in my life.”

Former Gov. Steve Beshear also said he was glad to call Brereton Jones his friend. “He was a unique kind of fellow, part of which was coming in as an outsider in politics, and really put the people in front of his own best interest, a lot of times. He fought for good ethics laws, got the gubernatorial succession act passed, excluding himself from it so he could get it through the General Assembly. He worked hard at the job and was also a great family man.”

Republican Attorney General candidate Russell Coleman said he met Gov. Jones as an 18-year-old undergrad from Logan County studying at the University of Kentucky.

“Gov. Jones sat with me for 30-35 minutes, helping me with a political science project,” Coleman said. “My dad worked in a factory, I didn’t come from a political background, but for a kid of 18, to actually meet the Governor. It’s not about being attainable, he just made it accessible. He planted some seeds in me, and it showed a kid from a rural blue-collar background, that this building is accessible to me too.”

The funeral service for Jones will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at Forks of the Elkhorn Baptist Church, 840 Duckers Road in Midway, followed immediately by a private burial.