Nelda Barton-Collings, who served 28 years as Republican National Committeewoman for Kentucky and was the first woman to be chair of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, died Friday at her home in Corbin. She was 85.
Her death elicited comments from several of Kentucky's top Republican officials.
U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Louisville said, "As a pioneer in business and politics in Kentucky, Nelda was a fantastic force for good and gave the state she loved a lifetime of service. Her determination to improve our commonwealth and nation was outmatched only by her charm and benevolent optimism."
U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset said Barton-Collings "was a woman ahead of her time, pioneering new avenues in the business world and proclaiming her dedication to conservative principles.
"She captivated crowds with her dynamic personality and southern charm, yet took the time to guide and mentor individuals of all ages and social status."
State Senate President Robert Stivers of Manchester called Barton-Collings "a true stateswoman who, until the end, battled for the betterment of Kentucky" and said her legacy will be her "passion for public service and her determination to improve the commonwealth."
State House Majority Leader Jeff Hoover of Jamestown said Barton-Collings' "compassion and dedication to improving the lives of all Kentuckians through her public service is an example that more of us should strive to follow."
A native of Providence in Webster County, Barton-Collings was a successful businesswoman in banking, nursing homes, newspapers and other small business ventures in partnership with Terry Forcht.
Besides her involvement with the Republican National Committee, she was a delegate to several Republican national conventions.
Barton-Collings also was a member of President Reagan's Federal Council on Aging and Council for International Affairs and President George H.W. Bush's Council on Rural America.
Her portrait hangs in the Kentucky Capitol for a Kentucky Women Remembered Award by the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights.
Visitation will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the O'Neil Lawson Funeral Home in Corbin.
Services will be at Grace on the Hill United Methodist Church in Corbin at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Donations may be made in her honor to Hospice of the Bluegrass.