The Gentleman from Ewing
The Honorable Pete Worthington
Marvin Lewis "Pete" Worthington was born in Maysville, Kentucky on December 5, 1940, the eldest son of Marvin Lawrence "Buster" and Maude Graham Worthington. All of his life, he lived in the Ewing community in western Fleming County. Pete attended Ewing Elementary and Fleming County High School (1958). He attended Morehead State University and earned a B.S. degree from the University of Kentucky (1965) in mechanical engineering. After graduating from UK, Pete accepted a position with IBM as a mechanical engineer in Lexington. Cherishing the lifestyle in his hometown of Ewing, Pete decided to commute more than a hundred miles daily, rather than move. This enabled him to continue farming and raising tobacco. He was a life-long loyal "Yellow Dog Democrat."
Pete and his former wife, the late Linda Powers Worthington, had three children, two daughters and a son. Always a leader, Pete was deeply involved in his community. He was a member of the Ewing Baptist Church, the Favorite Lodge F.&A.M., and the Ewing Volunteer Fire Department. He served as a precinct worker for the Fleming County Democrat Party. In 1974 Pete made his first bid for public office and was elected to the Fleming County Board of Education. In the summer of 1976 a propane gas explosion leveled the Ewing Volunteer Fire Department. This small farming community could not afford to rebuild and purchase new equipment. Working with then Governor Julian Carroll and United States Senator Walter "Dee" Huddleston, Pete became intrigued with the process of government. Using what would later become Pete's trademark dogged determination, with a combination of funding sources, a new fire house soon rose from the rubble.
In 1977, Pete decided to seek the open 70th district seat in the Kentucky General Assembly representing Fleming, Mason, and Robertson counties. The district also included a portion of Rowan County. It was a widely accepted political view that he could not win. But the underdog and his supporters worked hard and smart. He ran on a pledge that he was "A young man willing to work!" Some political promises are forgotten after the election, but Pete's would become a shining example of a promise kept. On election night, he shocked the nay sayers with a stunning victory. His intellect, passion and savvy politcal skills were readily apparent. He was a stickler for detail. Pete quickly delivered public funding and policy victories for his district. These successes enabled Pete to be re-elected a remarkable ten times without opposition. During his twenty-three tenure in the Kentucky House of Representatives, he mastered the budgeting process. He also became a fierce advocate for the needs of his constituents. Pete served as Speaker Pro Tem from 1985 to 1992. His colleagues in the House in both political parties sought and valued his advice and counsel. At the time of his death, he was serving as Chairman of the influention budget subcommittee on transportation. Just three days before his death, he presided over the dedication of a new $37 million bridge spanning the Ohio River from his district. This project was the culmination of twenty years of methodical devotion to the budgeting process. He was unapologetic in the use of public resources to improve economic opportunity and the quality of life for the citizens of rural Kentucky.
Pete Worthington died on October 12, 2000. He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Michael Lee "Mickey" Worthington. He is survived by his children and grandchildren: Laura, a public school teacher and her husband Greg who have two children, Steely and Henry; Julie, an orthodontist; and Weston, an attorney. Pete was very proud of each of his children and their many successes. His two grandsons were also a pride and joy to him. In the end, they were what mattered and he will live on through them.
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