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Retired Fayette judge Charles Tackett dies at 80

Retired Fayette Circuit Court Judge Charles Tackett, a respected jurist who started a second career running a vineyard, died Sunday at the age of 80.

He had been suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease, said his son-in-law, John Lynch.

Mr. Tackett grew up in Prestonsburg, but stayed in Lexington after attending the University of Kentucky law school. He served in the U.S. JAG corps, retiring as a major in the Army Reserves. Mr. Tackett practiced with the firm Turley, Tackett, Savage, Moore and served as Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney before being appointed as Fayette Circuit Court Judge by Gov. Wendell Ford in 1972.

He served on the bench 19 years before retiring and starting Talon Winery in Fayette County with his wife, Harriet Allen.

Lynch said Mr. Tackett and Allen were looking for something to do with their farm instead of raising tobacco.

"It was an afterthought after he retired," Lynch said, "sort of a second career."

Judge James Keller, retired Kentucky Supreme Court justice, whose term as a Fayette Circuit Court judge overlapped that of Mr. Tackett, called him a "good judge, a good human being.

"He was a good judge because he was kind, and he cared about people," Keller said.

Lexington attorney Henry Hughes grew up with Mr. Tackett in Prestonsburg.

"If you couldn't get along with Charlie, you couldn't get along with anybody," Hughes said. "I never saw him raise his voice, never saw him lose his temper."

Lynch said one of Mr. Tackett's greatest qualities was his impish sense of humor. Once, Lynch recalled, Mr. Tackett was supposed to make a presentation on legal hearsay. Instead, he made a video that started out with him getting caught asleep on the bench.

"He made everybody laugh," Lynch said. "And he could make fun of himself in a very charming way."

Mr. Tackett is survived by his wife, Harriet Allen, and three daughters, Dana Tackett and Gena Tackett of Lexington and Joanie Tackett Campbell of Versailles. Arrangements by Kerr Brothers are incomplete.

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