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Bob Wade Sr., farmer, county leader, dies

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Friends: Legacy will live on for years

By Jeff D'Alessio

When Richard Preston decided to leave his career in science for farming in 1977, Bob Wade Sr. extended a helping hand.

For many who knew the man, it was typical Bob Wade.

“He was always a tremendous help,” said Preston, who grows corn, soybeans and wheat in Hardin and Grayson counties. “He always went out of his way to help me.”

Wade died at his home Wednesday morning at age 79.

“I remember him as one of my mentors,” Preston said. “He went out of his way to teach me what I needed to learn; I needed to learn the ropes and he was always there for me.”

Preston praised Wade’s giving spirit and said his “pioneering work in no-till farming” played a major role in conservation in Hardin County, the state and worldwide.

“It’s important to protect the soil and he preached it and he practiced it,” Preston said.

A graduate of Glendale High School, Wade also was a community leader and involved in his county.

The numerous boards and organizations with which he was involved included Nolin RECC Board of Directors, including as its president; Glendale Lions Club, Elizabethtown Community College Foundation director and was appointed by then Kentucky Gov. Brereton Jones to the Public Advocacy Committee of Kentucky Outlook in 2000.

Wade also was past president and board member of the Central Kentucky Community Foundation.

Outgoing foundation President/CEO Al Rider said he and Wade were friends for about 50 years and Wade left a lasting impact on Rider.

“He always was a gentleman with the greatest integrity,” said Rider, who last saw Wade before Christmas. “The advice he gave me a long time ago is to always take the high road. He has been an inspiration in my life for half a century.”

Rider first met Wade at his farm as a teenager and a friendship quickly developed.

Rider said Wade’s leadership skills were impressive.

“He was one of those leaders who led without any boasting,” he said. “You followed his leadership because he had qualities in life that you wanted.

“It’s hard to sum Bob up because he was so much to so many people,” Rider added. “His leadership demanded the best out of you because you wanted to live up to the ideals and standards of Bob Wade.”

Among Wade’s survivors are his wife, Ella Mae, and three sons. His funeral is at 11 a.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethtown. Visitation begins at 5 p.m. Friday at Brown Funeral Home in Elizabethtown.

In a Facebook posting Wednesday afternoon, local artist and sculptor Rich Griendling honored his friend of more than 25 years.

“Thanks, Bob, for the many hours of conversation in which we solved all the world’s problems,” Griendling wrote. “Thanks for the fresh corn, the fireside cookouts at the creek (with the Buick-size, flesh-eating flies), for treating my boys to a day of sledding at the farm, for the hay rides, for introducing us to the workings of an apple press, for starring in my short film with your now famous line, ‘Don’t forget your purse,’ for showing me that a 79-year-old body can be stronger than my 63-year-old version, for being a role model in many ways, especially in how one can travel the world, and for sitting thru, and laughing along with, my critical reviews of your travel videos. We miss you. Please know that you definitely left a tremendous legacy that will live on forever through a life well-lived.”

A U.S. Army veteran, Wade and his wife endowed money to CKCF to benefit the community for years to come.

“It is important for people to have opportunity,” Bob Wade Sr. said on the organization’s website. “The one thing we owe the next generation is opportunity.”

Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at 270-505-1757 or jdalessio@thenewsenterprise.com.