There are few men and women who are truly legends in a community.

People whose lives made a real impact far beyond their social circles.

We've lost two of ours already this year.

Former Mayor Waitman Taylor died on Jan. 25 at 91.

And Bill Kuegel, a farmer and former political leader, died on Monday at 94.

Both were part of the "Greatest Generation," the men and women who helped build America in the post-World War II era.

They both died full of honors and full of years, as people used to say.

Kuegel, a tenant farmer's son who became a leading force in Kentucky agriculture, worked behind the scenes for the most part.

He kept a low profile.

But the movers and shakers in Frankfort knew well who he was and what he stood for.

Kuegel was chairman of the Daviess County Democratic Party from 1967 -- when his close friend Wendell Ford was elected lieutenant governor -- until 1979.

That covered the administrations of Louie Nunn, Ford and Julian Carroll.

It was an era when county chairmen were the primary lobbyists in Frankfort for their communities.

Carroll once said that Kuegel never asked for anything for himself -- just other people and the community.

I first met him in that era.

He was the consummate leader.

A man who exemplified graciousness.

If he ever met a stranger, the person wasn't a stranger very long.

Kuegel would win him over before the first conversation was finished.

And he seemed to be tireless.

When he was 89 years old, friends said he still got up and went to work every morning.

As a U.S. Marine in World War II, Kuegel saw action on Okinawa and then took part in the liberation of China.

Later, he took time to travel around the world in support of American agriculture.

Kuegel served on a long list of boards -- local, state and national.

A devout Christian, he served as Sunday school superintendent at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church for 25 years and taught Sunday school for a lot longer than that.

He may have spent his later years even deeper behind the scenes, but it was always comforting to know that Kuegel was still there, watching what was happening in the community he loved.

He will be missed.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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