Fayette County

James Combs, former Lexington councilman, dies at 92

Jim Combs visited the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., as part of an Honor Flight of veterans.
Jim Combs visited the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., as part of an Honor Flight of veterans.

James Henry “Jim” Combs, a former Lexington-Fayette Urban County councilman, died Tuesday. He was 92.

He had been in the care of Hospice of the Bluegrass when he died at his Lexington home, said Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn, Combs’ son-in-law.

“He had been in declining health for about the last six weeks,” Ginn said.

Combs served as 6th District councilman from the mid-1970s into the 1980s. He was instrumental in getting storm sewers installed in his district, and he was a proponent for the curbside trash receptacles known as “Herbies.”

In 1986, Combs proposed an ordinance that would allow only three pets in each home. He said at the time that his proposal was prompted by complaints from constituents of odors and flies around the homes of “people trying to operate kennels out of their house and doing it for a profit.”

Herald-Leader columnist Andrew Eckdahl found merit in the idea.

“In fact, I personally know some who would argue convincingly that any sane person would realize that one retired husband and two cats were enough in the way of pets to have hanging around any home,” Eckdahl wrote. “Fortunately, husbands were not included in Combs’ list of proscribed pets.”

Combs, one of 10 children, grew up in the mining community of Scuddy in Perry County. “They farmed on the side of a mountain, so they worked hard,” Ginn said.

Combs joined the Army in 1940 when he was 17. World War II introduced Combs to the world as he served in Great Britain, France, Germany and Iceland.

In Lichfield, England, he met and married his wife, Veronica, whom he called “Ronnie.”

“He said he asked her to dance, and they’d been dancing their whole life,” Ginn said. “He would always say she was his war souvenir.”

After the war, the couple made their home for a short time in Nicholasville, but they later moved to Lexington. They had three children.

After being discharged from the Army, Combs worked for Greyhound as a driver and mechanic. He later was a mechanic for Boehmer Flying Service, and became a licensed commercial and private pilot. He worked as a nursing aide at the Narcotic Farm or “Narco,” a 1,000-acre complex behind what is now Masterson Station Park.

Combs worked 25 years for the U.S. Postal Service as a letter carrier, and for 12 years served as president of Branch 361 of the National Association of Letter Carriers. After retiring from the post office, Combs was the area Brookfield Uniform sales representative that sold uniforms for letter carriers.

Survivors include a daughter, Kathryn, Ginn’s wife, and a son, Leslie Combs, both of Lexington. Another son, Lawrence, died of pancreatic cancer at age 13. Veronica Combs died in 2014 after 68 years of marriage to Jim Combs.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Milward Funeral Directors on Southland Drive. Visitation will be 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home.

Donations to Hospice of the Bluegrass are requested.