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Family, friends and former co-workers of Tony Scott said Elizabethtown is nursing a gaping void with the death of one its most resilient residents.
Scott, a fixture in Elizabethtown government for 38 years, died shortly after midnight Tuesday at Jewish Hospital in Louisville. He was 67.
Carla Scott, Scott’s daughter-in-law, said he contracted cerebral palsy at birth and was not expected to live past age 16. The prognosis proved false, she said, as he tackled every aspect of his life with enthusiasm and vigor.
“He’s one of those people who’s always defeated the odds,” Carla said.
He refused to allow the condition to interfere with his life and had an unimpeachable work ethic, reflected in his work for Elizabethtown, his time as a volunteer firefighter and his mission to raise money for WHAS Crusade for Children, she said.
“He didn’t view it as a disability,” she said. “He saw himself (just like) everybody else.”
However, the condition took a toll on his body, heavily damaging his liver and kidneys and creating a need for organ transplants.
Joey Scott, Scott’s son and chief of Valley Creek Fire Department, said the family was confident he would prevail again once he made the transplant list, but a lung infection forced him into the intensive care unit and he never recovered.
“Dad was a hero,” Joey said. “He was my hero.”
A “Prayers for Papaw Tony” Facebook page was created to update the public on Scott’s health and his pursuit of the transplants. On Tuesday, the page was filled with notes of condolences and words of encouragement for Scott’s family and closest friends.
Steve Park, Elizabethtown’s finance director, said Scott was known throughout the community and was fiercely loyal to the city, his family and friends. He performed a slew of duties while working for the city and was the supervisor of customer service and meter readers. Park also said Scott was active with the fire department as a first responder, tasked with shutting off utilities during house fires. He retired in 2007.
“Truthfully, he touched about every department here at the city,” he said.
Park laughed when recalling old exchanges with Scott, including a moment years ago when a utility user was deeply behind on payments. Scott approached the resident with intentions to cut off his utilities, but the man begged for an extension and promised to pay within a few days.
To sweeten the deal, the man told Scott he could have his old Cadillac if he failed to keep his promise. When the day came to collect on the payment, Scott returned with the Cadillac, Park said with a chuckle. The man paid later that day and Scott relinquished the keys.
Joey Scott said his father loved people and often would pay utility bills out of his own pocket for those behind on payments.
“He dedicated his life solely to helping people,” Joey said.
Elizabethtown Executive Assistant Charlie Bryant echoed Park in describing Scott’s loyalty to the city while marveling at his dependability and deep-seated knowledge of city matters. Bryant said Scott’s medical ailments never defined him as a person.
“He never let them stand in the way of what he did,” Bryant said. “He was just an extraordinary example of what someone with determination could do.”
In 1983, Bryant and Scott shared more than an employer when they were involved in a devastating crash while traveling to Brandenburg. Elizabethtown was in the process of building softball fields and Bryant, Scott and Recreation Director Ron Sidebottom drove to Meade County to review similar fields.
During the drive, Bryant said the trio’s vehicle collided with a semi-truck, injuring the men.
Bryant and Scott were hospitalized at Hardin Memorial Hospital while Sidebottom recovered in Louisville. Scott commandeered a wheelchair to make the rounds, Bryant said.
“He’d roll down the hall several times a day to visit and talk,” Bryant said. “We had a close time in the hospital.”
Bryant said he was saddened by the loss but thankful he had so many years to call Scott his friend.
Mayor Tim Walker first met Scott when he was 7 years old after Scott approached him for help collecting money for Crusade for Children.
“Every year I looked forward to that,” Walker said. “We’ve been friends ever since in a lot of capacities.”
Carla Scott said her father-in-law was active with Crusade for Children since he was 12 and continued to collect money after his health deteriorated, indicative of his desire to give all of himself. He was named the top crusader for Valley Creek Fire Department on several occasions, she said.
“He’d be the first one out crusading and the last one out crusading,” Carla said.
Scott and his wife, Geneva, served as commissioners of the Elizabethtown Youth Softball League for more than 30 years. He was a member of the fire service for more than 50 years, serving in a volunteer role for the Hardin County, Elizabethtown, Central Hardin and Valley Creek fire departments, according to his obituary. He was a past president of the Dixie Fire Association and a member of the Valley Creek Fire Department Board of Directors. He also served as a special deputy for the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office.
“Tony touched a lot of lives in this city,” Walker said.
Scott also is survived by his wife of 44 years, Geneva Boyd Scott; and another son, Anthony “Tony” (Gabriele) Scott Jr. Both of his sons followed him into the fire service.
Walker said he will remember Scott as a true friend.
“There will never be another one like him,” he said.
Joey Scott seconded the mayor.
“If you did not get to know Tony Scott, you missed out,” he said. “You missed out on a great, great human being. He was an angel here on Earth.”
Scott’s funeral is 11 a.m. Saturday at First Christian Church with Brother Doug Mitchell officiating. Burial follows in Elizabethtown Memorial Gardens. Visitation is from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and continues after 9 a.m. Saturday at Brown Funeral Home.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or email@example.com.