Fayette County

‘Always thinking about the greater good.’ Former Lexington council member Tom Blues dies

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, held up his part of the ribbon, for Council member Tom Blues, center, and D.G. Gridley, right, a member of the McConnell’s Trace Neighborhood Association, during the opening of McConnell’s Trace Greenway, a 1,500 foot walking path on Thursday May 31, 2012.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, held up his part of the ribbon, for Council member Tom Blues, center, and D.G. Gridley, right, a member of the McConnell’s Trace Neighborhood Association, during the opening of McConnell’s Trace Greenway, a 1,500 foot walking path on Thursday May 31, 2012. Staff File Photo

Former Lexington Fayette Urban-County council member and retired University of Kentucky professor Thomas “Tom” Blues died Thursday at the age of 82.

Blues, who died on Thursday, was raised in Detroit and studied at the University of Michigan and the University of Iowa before joining the faculty of the UK’s English department, according to his obituary. He worked at the university from 1965 to 1998.

Blues represented Lexington’s second district between 2007 and 2012, where former mayor Jim Gray said he always looked out for his constituents “with a view toward what was best for everyone.”

“Tom had a wonderful wit and sense of humor, and a moral core that was strong and confident,” Gray said. “As mayor, I often sought his guidance and referred to him with a smile and great affection as the ‘Lord of Meadowthorpe Province.’”

Mayor Linda Gorton, who was a council member and vice mayor during Blues’ time on the council, said she worked closely with him to create storm water and sewer policies to get Lexington compliant with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency consent decree.

Blues was also vocal about his support for pension reform for Lexington police.

“He was tough too,” Gray said. “Whenever there was a challenging issue, like pension or health insurance reform, Tom could be counted on to do what was right, often going against the grain. He was the epitome of a citizen statesman in the highest sense of the words.”

Gray also recalled that Blues was up for adventures outside of work, including long hikes in the Red River Gorge with friends within city government.

“He had a devilish sense of humor,” Gorton said. “Once he came home from traveling and brought me a sign that says ‘No Sniveling’. It has been in my office since then, and always reminds me of his common sense approach to issues with no complaining, just lots of hard work.”

Blues was preceded in death by one son, Jonathan D. Blues, and survived by another; Andrew T. Blues of Lexington, according to his obituary. He’s also survived by a sister, Joanne C. Blues of Niceville, Fla., and a former wife, Kay Blues.

Services for Blues are being handled by Milward Funeral Directors. His visitation is scheduled for Thursday, May 30, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Milward-Southland. A graveside service will be held June 1 at 10 a.m. in Lexington Cemetery.

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