McCracken County Commissioner Jerry Beyer knew Van Newberry for the more than 20 years they shared responsibilities on the McCracken County Fiscal Court, and he says he wasn't only a great coworker, but an even better friend. Newberry died Thursday after he was hit by a car while riding in bike in West Paducah.
"This county, our commonwealth, has truly lost a great leader," Beyer said.
One of Beyer's fondest memories came at one of the county's worst. He said Newberry led the way in checking on people after the 2009 ice storm. "He was the one who informed the emergency personnel to go door to door and knock on every door and find out if there are people in there who need our help," he said.
"He wanted to know what was going on. He kept pressure on you," said Chad Chancellor.
Chancellor is the former president and CEO of Paducah Economic Development. He commended Newberry on his efforts to bring more jobs and opportunities to the county, including the 2013 groundbreaking of Whitehall Industries and the construction of the Murray State University Paducah campus.
"I can assure you: Without him, that campus wouldn't be there. There is no doubt about it," Chancellor said.
Chancellor last saw Newberry in 2015 when he invited him to a St. Louis Cardinals game. Chancellor said it was an opportunity to catch up.
"I hadn't seen Van in awhile, and really didn't want anything out of him. It was just a 'Hey, come to the baseball game,' and he did, and we had a blast," Chancellor said.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete, but will be with Milner and Orr Funeral Home. We will let you know what those arrangements are when the details are released.