Former governor, founder of NKU dies

Tony Redell

Former Kentucky Gov. Louie B. Nunn died Jan. 29 of an apparent heart attack at age 79, according to Woodford County coroner Steve Ward. Nunn founded Northern Kentucky State College in 1968, which is now Northern Kentucky University.

Nunn graduated with a law degree from the University of Louisville in 1950 after previously attending Bowling Green Business University and the University of Cincinnati.

In 1953 he was elected Barren County judge. Nunn lost the 1963 election for governor.

However, he was elected governor of Kentucky in 1967, becoming the first Republican governor in 20 years, and the last Republican governor for 32 years until Ernie Fletcher was elected in November.

During his term as governor, Nunn’s accomplishments included significantly increasing funding for education, creating special education plans for exceptional students, raising teachers’ salaries, and completing the Kentucky Educational Television Network (KET).

Nunn also increased the number of state-supported higher education institutions with the opening of NKSC and the addition of the University of Louisville to the state system.

Nunn’s other contributions as governor included extending interstate highways, creating Barren River Lake State Resort Park, and the planning and funding of three more parks.

After his term as governor, Nunn acted as chair of the Board of Trustees at the University of Kentucky, Morehead State University and Kentucky State University.

He was also known for his lectures on government at Western Kentucky University and was given the 1999 University of Louisville Distinguished Alumni award.

Nunn’s presence is still acknowledged on NKU’s campus. Students enter from Nunn Drive and attend class in Nunn Hall.

Nunn actively participated in the groundbreaking of Nunn Hall by driving the bulldozer into the ground.

Nunn was married to the late Beula Cornelius Aspley and had two children, Stephen Nunn and Jennie Lou Penn.