Advocate epitomized selfless public service

August 21, 2013 

Laurel True

Laurel True, a builder of what some might call "big government," always kept in touch with Kentuckians who needed government's help.

In recent years, Mr. True, 80, who died Saturday at his home in Shelby County, worked the halls of Frankfort as a volunteer, on behalf of many humanitarian causes, including children's health care.

When too many families were slow to enroll their uninsured kids, he went out and personally interviewed people to learn why.

His causes also included long-term care that enables seniors to stay in their homes, consumer protections against predatory lending and community-based mental health services.

Before that, Mr. True had a long career as a public servant, working to improve the health, welfare and education of his fellow Kentuckians.

The son of a tobacco farmer, Mr. True served in the Marines before joining state government. He helped plan expansions of health care, including the launch of Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor and disabled. He served as the state's first secretary of human resources under Gov. Wendell Ford.

Mr. True's successors — the small band of advocates who lobby for a more just Kentucky — have lost a wonderful role model.

Mr. True had a knack for communicating the hardest realties in the most gentle way. Illuminated by compassion, he cared more about forging practical solutions than winning debates.

He will be deeply missed.

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