LCS Distinguished Alumni to induct four new members

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Luncheon set for Friday

Landmark News Service

The LaRue County Board of Education has announced four inductees as LaRue County Schools Distinguished Alumni.

Phyllis Higdon Gentry, Dr. Brandon Houk, John E. Hornback, and Capt. Mark D. Turner, M.D., will be honored at a luncheon Friday at the LaRue County Extension Service.


Phyllis Higdon Gentry attended Our Lady of Mercy School and graduated from LaRue County High School in 1969. Following graduation, she attended the Glasgow School of Practical Nursing and became an LPN. She worked at Hardin Memorial Hospital until the birth of her first child, then took time off to raise her family. Later she went back to school and graduated from Elizabethtown Community and Technical College School of Nursing as an RN. After a year at Hardin Memorial Hospital she began a 21-year career as a school nurse in Hardin and Nelson County Schools.

During her career, she served as President of the Kentucky School Nurses Association and was twice recognized as School Nurse of the Year. She has also been a Red Cross Volunteer for more than 20 years and received an award for having the largest number of blood donors from a high school in the state.


John E. Hornback graduated from LCHS in 1972 and graduated from Eastern Kentucky University in 1976. His public service career has included working as an environmental specialist and supervisor, branch manager with Kentucky Division of Water Quality and later as division director with the Kentucky Division of Air Quality. Issues he confronted to improve quality of life for his fellow Kentuckians include drinking water, surface water and dam safety.

As Division Director of Air Quality, he directed a staff of 175 and implemented Clean Air legislation, served as lead negotiator in multi-million dollar settlements of major air quality violations, advised the EPA on cleaner burning gasoline formulations and co-chaired a federal committee in Washington, D.C., that evaluated public concerns, performance and environmental benefits.

After retiring from the state government after nearly 25 years of service, Hornback became Executive Director of Metro 4, Inc. and Southeastern States Air Resource Managers Inc. These nonprofit organizations serve 17 local and eight state air pollution control agencies in the Southeast including Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District and the Kentucky Division for Air Quality.


Dr. Brandon Houk graduated in 1997 from LCHS. He graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in biology from Morehead State University then completed his medical doctorate at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in 2005, and his internship and residency at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Indianapolis.

After completion of residency, he relocated to Hardin County and established a medical practice. He is an Honorary Kentucky Colonel, serves on the infection control committee at Hardin Memorial Hospital, and has received a variety of awards for scholarship, philanthropy and community service.

He received academic honors at Morehead State University and received the Sam Walton Foundation Scholarship for Academic Achievement. He served as Student Admissions Ambassador at the University of Kentucky, served as a four-year student representative to the UK College of Medicine Curriculum Committee and multiple course student liaison committees. He belongs to a variety of professional organizations, has published numerous professional articles and frequently volunteers at health fairs and other community events.


Capt. Mark D. Turner M.D. graduated in 1978 from LCHS, followed by the University of Kentucky School of Engineering and the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. Turner entered the Naval Service through the HPSP program and completed an internship in internal medicine in 1988. He served two years as a General Medical Officer in Okinawa, Japan. He completed his internal medicine residency in San Diego in 1993 and went back to work with the Marines as a staff internist at Camp Pendleton, 1993-1995.

He was deployed with Fleet Hospital Six as a solo internist supporting the UN Mission in Croatia where he cared for UN peacekeepers from more than 15 countries. He then completed a nephrology fellowship at University of California San Diego in 1997, and returned to San Diego as a nephrologist, becoming division head. He has served as director of business operations at Naval Medical Information Management Center working to improve clinical workload and manpower reporting; Director of Clinical Operations at the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery where he was responsible for credentialing, patient safety, oversight of the clinical quality boards, and policies related to joint commission, Executive Officer of Naval Medical Research Unit – 3 in Cairo, and Executive Officer of Naval Hospital Bremerton.

He completed his Master’s of Public Health at Johns Hopkins in May 2012. His military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (six awards), the Navy Commendation Medal (two awards), and numerous tour and campaign awards. Turner is married to Dr. Sybil Tasker and has two children.

Educators, friends and family who are interested in attending the awards luncheon may contact Sam Sanders at the LaRue County Board of Education. Nomination forms for the 2014 LaRue County Distinguished Alumni awards are available at the LaRue County Board of Education and the district’s webpage.