The city of Lexington lost a key part of its historic fabric when Billy Holcomb passed away Aug. 17.
An unassuming, yet highly effective leader, he was personally and integrally involved in shaping the redevelopment of our downtown and in overseeing building construction throughout the community, serving as Lexington's building inspector for many years.
He served the city council and many mayors with skill and integrity, including Mayors Fred Fugazzi, Foster Pettit and Scotty Baesler as well as myself.
Billy's personal involvement in the renovation and revitalization of our downtown, overseeing the demolition of neglected and unused buildings and the erection of some of the modern office buildings that define our skyline today, represents only one of his many contributions to the community.
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His commitment to quality and safety and his embrace of progressive and modern construction standards is his true legacy. He was Lexington's representative to the Building Officials and Code Administrators International organization, and his contributions to that organization — the ultimate authority in building code standards in the world — eventually resulted in his being elected its national president.
Billy brought that code back to Lexington and Kentucky to give us one of the finest code-enforcement programs in the country. As a result, he became very well respected in the commercial and residential construction industries, despite the fact that the standards imposed sometimes made their work more challenging.
I again worked with Billy for several years after his retirement when he teamed with me as an advisor on many land-use matters for clients participating in the expansion of the commercial centers and the embrace of the then-just budding adaptive re-use trend in the community.
His wisdom, experience and insight were as valuable to those clients at that time as his leadership in city building inspection had been. His commitment to quality and detail was unwavering and our city's building infrastructure is better for it.
Complementing his professional achievements was a deeply warm and generous personality, as engaging with business and political leaders as he was to the construction tradesmen with whom he dealt with grace and honesty. His big heart and loving ways for his community carried him through his career.
Lexington has lost a quiet giant. He will be missed as one misses a family member — a family member of Lexington.