As a final nod to Rodney S. Hughley Sr.'s career as a projectionist, the funeral for the Lexington entrepreneur will be Wednesday at The Kentucky Theatre, where he got his start in the business as a boy.
Mr. Hughley, 48, died Thursday. He owned companies that installed and serviced movie-projection equipment, promoted concerts and did contract cleaning work.
Fred Mills, longtime manager of The Kentucky, said he met Mr. Hughley 35 years ago, when Mr. Hughley was 13 years old.
"You could see the sparkle in his eye," Mills said. "Very inquisitive, interested in movies."
Raymond Mitchell, who was back then and still is the projectionist at The Kentucky, took a liking to Mr. Hughley and often would sneak him upstairs to the projection room, where Mills said Mitchell "began to teach him how to operate projectors."
Mr. Hughley went on to work in movie theaters around town, and he eventually formed a company that installed and serviced projection equipment all over the country.
He also operated janitorial businesses and worked as a concert promoter.
Mills said Mr. Hughley brought musical acts Hootie and the Blowfish and Delbert McClinton to The Kentucky. He said Mr. Hughley had stopped in just a few weeks ago to talk about some other shows.
"Whenever he came in, he was always smiling," Mills said.
Mr. Hughley's friend Greg Williams, a former business partner, said Mr. Hughley had a knack for salesmanship and "never stopped working."
"He was a committed man ... just unbelievable with his intent to succeed," Williams said. "He was a great friend."
Mr. Hughley is survived by his wife, Angelia; his parents, Louis Sr. and Warlener Hughley; and six children.
Visitation will be 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at The Kentucky Theatre, followed by funeral services at 2 p.m.