Albany and Clinton County is mourning the loss of one of its most prominent and respected citizens this week with the death of long-time Circuit Judge Eddie C. Lovelace.
Lovelace, 78, passed away Monday night at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, where he had been hospitalized since suffering a stroke at his home last week.
The long-time public figure in Albany and Clinton County had presided on the bench in Clinton Circuit Court up until the time of his stroke last week, and, as had been his routine for many years, had personally hand-delivered results of last week’s court proceedings to the office of the Clinton County News last Tuesday.
The Judge was transported to Nashville via ambulance after suffering the initial stroke last week, and while hospitalized there, reportedly suffered another stroke that caused his condition to seriously worsen. On Monday evening, Lovelace passed away from complications of those strokes.
Lovelace is survived by his wife, Joyce, and two children, Karen Talbott and Chris Lovelace, as well as several grandchildren. His mother, Flonnie, also survives. At press time, funeral arrangements were still pending and were to be made through the Campbell-New Funeral Home of Albany.
Lovelace had long served the public in many venues, not just in Albany and Clinton County, but across the entire state of Kentucky.
In addition to his legal profession and the many areas he worked in relation to the practice of law, Lovelace was also a strong political figure in the area and was long involved within the political arena.
He was also a strong civic leader for his hometown, being a long-time member of the Albany Masonic Lodge as well as a long-time member of the Albany First Baptist Church, where he had taught Sunday School for many years.
Lovelace, who resided just a couple of blocks from his office across from the Clinton County Courthouse, would normally walk to and from his office, and in addition, had been an avid early-morning walker, often being spotted in the pre-dawn hours taking daily walks.
For many years, he walked in those early exercise trips with long-time friend Darrell Claywell, who would often do a “live-remote” traffic report via cell-phone with local radio station WANY while the pair was walking through Albany, giving traffic reports.
Although not known by many members of the public, a dog that could be heard howling in the background during those live reports, was in reality Judge Lovelace, exercising his sense of humor as well as his body.
A well established public speaker and local historian, Lovelace was often called upon to address gatherings and public meetings, especially when a patriotic or historical theme was called for.
David Cross, a member of the Clinton County legal community, as well as another highly active member of the Clinton County Republican Party organization and a close friend and ally of Lovelace, noted that his 46 years of continuous service in elective office is a record for Clinton County that will surely never be broken.
Cross also commented on what members of the legal profession knew they could expect when they appeared in front of the judge.
“Judge Lovelace’s lasting legacy is that of an outstanding Circuit Judge. He was generally better prepared than the lawyers who appeared in front of him, and was rarely reversed by the Appellate Courts,” Cross said. “You knew when you tried a case before Judge Lovelace, there would likely not be any reversible error. He believed in proper courtroom decorum and he had a respect for the legal system and for the office he held, and he conducted himself in a manner deserving of respect. He will be remembered as one of the most influential figures in our county’s history.”
Another well recognized legal and political figure, Jamestown attorney and House of Representatives Minority Leader Jeff Hoover, a Republican whose district includes Clinton County, told the Clinton County News on Tuesday morning that Judge Lovelace was one of the best he had ever had the pleasure of working with, both in the legal and political field, and he would be missed as one of Hoover’s dear friends.
“Judge Lovelace was a dear friend and I am so saddened by his passing. As a lawyer, there was no better Judge to be in front of than Judge Lovelace” Hoover said. “He made each of us better lawyers because we knew he would be very prepared and he expected the same from others. His intellect and his work ethic were unsurpassed. Yet, he always approached his job with common sense, a sense of fairness even when he was tough, and always with that quick wit and humor,”
Hoover also mentioned Lovelace’s ability to talk and be at ease with friends when he was outside of the courtroom as well.
“I enjoyed spending time with him and listening to him tell stories. There are very few like him and he will be greatly missed, not only in the legal community but as a dear friend to so many of us.”Hoover said. “I extend my sympathies to his wonderful wife Joyce, to Karen and Chris, and all the grandchildren during this difficult time and loss of such a great man.”
Judge Lovelace began his public career as Albany City Attorney in the 1960s. In 1965 he was elected, unopposed, as Clinton County Attorney.
In 1969 he was elected Commonwealth Attorney, defeating W.C. Dabney of Monticello in the GOP primary and defeated Jack Miller of Russell County in the General Election.
Lovelace was unopposed in 1975; he defeated W. Elijah Coffey (R) and Robert L. Bertram (D) in 1981; he was unopposed in 1987. In 1991 he defeated the incumbent Circuit Judge, Philip R. Morgan of Wayne County, and had served as Circuit Judge since 1992 running unopposed since then.
Lovelace was named Kentucky Trial Judge of the Year in 1995 and also served as Republican Chairman of the 5th Congressional District from 1978-1980. He served as Clinton County Republican Chairman from 1988-1990.
In 2009, Lovelace was honored by the Albany Clinton County Chamber of Commerce when he was named Public Servant of the Year.
At press time, funeral arrangements were still pending for Clinton Circuit Judge Eddie C. Lovelace, and were to be announced by the Campbell-New Funeral Home of Albany. A complete death notice will appear in next week’s Clinton County News.
Clinton Circuit Judge Eddie C. Lovelace, shown in a 2009 photo as he addressed the Albany – Clinton County Chamber of Commerce after being named Public Servant of the Year.