Somerset businessman Ward F. Correll, recognized for millions of dollars worth of philanthropy in support of various causes, died Thursday at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital. He was 88.
Correll had been hospitalized since suffering what police said were accidental gunshot wounds at his home early March 9.
Correll had business interests in a shopping center, an oil and gas distributorship and a life insurance company, and he was a founder of First Southern National Bank.
Correll had given millions to causes and projects including land for a water park and youth baseball field in Somerset; land and financial support for Somerset Christian School; money to renovate an auditorium at Somerset High School; and $1 million for a classroom building at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg. The building was named for Correll and his late wife, Regina.
He also made smaller donations, reportedly giving away $30 worth of gas from his stations to active-duty military personnel in 2009, for instance.
Observers said Correll’s philanthropy had touched countless lives.
“It has built the community up from every aspect,” said Carolyn Mounce, head of the Somerset-Pulaski County Covention and Visitors Bureau.
U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, a Somerset Republican, said Correll’s impact will last for generations.
“His generosity was as vast as his business ingenuity, and he routinely used both to inspire and encourage everyone around him,” Rogers said. “Ultimately, Ward loved his God, his family, his community and his country, and spent a lifetime faithfully serving each one with great passion and enthusiasm.”
Correll was born in Wayne County, one of 13 children, and grew up in Pulaski County in modest circumstances.
He told the story of leaving home after high school with $2.67 and hitchhiking to Detroit for work, returning home several months later with a bit more money in his pocket.
He eventually developed a shopping center in the 1960s on what was then a sparsely built stretch of U.S. 27 in Somerset, now crowded with hundreds of businesses.
Correll frequently bought full-page advertisements in the Commonwealth-Journal newspaper in Somerset to publish inspirational quotes.
Correll, a Korean War veteran, is survived by six children, nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, according to Lake Cumberland Funeral Home.
Visitation will be at First Baptist Church in Somerset from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, with the funeral at the church at 2 p.m. Tuesday.