Charles Lykins moved from Winchester to Naples, Fla., when he was 6, but he kept close ties with family members here.
"We talked twice a day, every day," said his uncle Don McMurry, in Winchester. "I probably wouldn't have been much closer to a flesh-and-blood son."
An excellent golfer, Lykins, 46, was in Winchester over the weekend to play in a tournament with McMurry at the Winchester Country Club. The tournament was canceled, "but he said I'll come and play golf for a few days anyway," McMurry said. Lykins visited friends and went to a family birthday party for McMurry's son-in-law Saturday night.
Lykins decided to leave earlier on Sunday that he had planned, and the change put him on Comair Flight 5191. "He wanted to get home and have dinner with his family," McMurry said.
Lykins leaves his wife Karen and children Alexander, 7, and Ashlee , 5.
Lykins came back to Kentucky and lived with McMurry and his wife, Brenda, his freshman year at the University of Kentucky, but transferred to the University of Florida, where he graduated. But he came back to visit once or twice a year, his uncle said.
Lykins loved people and knew thousands of people in Naples, said close friend and business partner Bobby Sullivan. "He grew up here, graduated from high school and was a very successful businessman."
"I didn't matter if you had billions or had little or nothing, he would treat you the same," McMurry said.
Lykins started Lykins Signtek, which became an industry leader in southwest Florida for architectural signs and large mailboxes for residential communities, Sullivan said.
The two played golf every Saturday and ate lunch together three or four times a week. Last year they started BuzzOff Mosquito pest control system. "What makes this loss so hard is Charlie had no agenda," Sullivan said. "He was a good father, a good husband, a good friend, and it stopped right there."
Taking a deep breath, he added, "I'm gonna miss my buddy."