Former Lexington airport director Michael Gobb found dead

jwarren@herald-leader.comSeptember 11, 2013 

Michael A. Gobb, the former executive director of Lexington's Blue Grass Airport, has died, his employer confirmed Wednesday.

Alan Stein, president and CEO of SteinGroup, said he found Gobb unresponsive after going to his apartment about 4 p.m. Wednesday.

"Michael struggled mightily to put his life together, and we thought he was on his way to a full recovery," a news release from SteinGroup said. "Our prayers are with his family and friends at this time of great loss. We will miss our good friend and valued colleague for his professionalism and his ever-present smile."

Stein said he decided to check on Gobb because Gobb had missed some scheduled meetings Wednesday morning. Gobb's mother also had been trying to reach him, Stein said.

Gobb, 50, had been on an extended leave of absence from SteinGroup during the summer to recuperate from a car accident. He was due to return to work Monday, according to Stein.

Deputy Coroner John McCarty said the cause of death is pending autopsy results.

Gobb had joined SteinGroup, a Lexington consulting and investment company, about 18 months ago, Stein said. He was listed as a senior account associate on the firm's website.

"He was extraordinary, a very talented man," Stein said Wednesday night. "He was a great colleague and teammate, who had had some issues that he was trying to work through, and we thought he had been able to do so."

Gobb directed Blue Grass Airport for about a decade, after moving to Lexington from a post at Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Conn. He was in charge of the airport in August 2006 when Comair Flight 5191 crashed on takeoff, killing 49 crew members and passengers.

In January 2009, after questions were raised about airport spending, the airport board forced Gobb and other executives to resign.

The next month, then-state Auditor Crit Luallen's office released an audit detailing more than $500,000 in undocumented and questionable expenses made by seven airport officials.

A Fayette circuit judge sentenced Gobb to five years in prison on each of two counts of felony theft by deception and then put Gobb on probation for five years. Gobb also was required to undergo random drug and alcohol testing and complete 500 hours of community service.

"He really and truly helped our company a lot," Stein said Wednesday night.

Stein said he and Gobb exchanged emails Tuesday night, and Gobb seemed to be in good spirits.

"His last message to me was, 'I'm feeling better, I'll see you at 9 a.m.!'" Stein said.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.