Earl F. Huddleston, known for his bipartisanship as the top elected official in Clinton County during the 1960s, died Monday after a long illness. He was 88.
He was a Democrat whom the heavily Republican county elected to serve as sheriff from 1958 to 1961 and as county judge from 1962 to 1965.
Mr. Huddleston, whose father and grandfather also served as county judge, was the only Democrat in the 20th century to be elected consecutively to different countywide offices in Clinton County. At the time, the state constitution prevented sheriffs and county judges from succeeding themselves in office.
Mr. Huddleston's son, Phillip, said his father was successful despite being a member of the minority party because "he was able to forge bipartisan unity."
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"He worked with people on both sides of the aisle even before it came into vogue to do that," he said. "He was friends of people of both parties."
He said Mr. Huddleston worked to get grant money that helped bring the first factories — two garment factories and a charcoal plant — to the agriculturally dependent county.
"Those were jobs that came with a weekly paycheck and insurance," Phillip Huddleston said. "They helped families supplement their incomes."
In 1965, after losing a race for sheriff, Mr. Huddleston moved to neighboring Wayne County, where he spent the rest of his life. There, he worked as a state quarry inspector and traded and raised cattle.
Later in life, Mr. Huddleston ran unsuccessfully for state representative and Wayne County judge-executive.
At the time he ran for judge-executive, he was in his 70s and knew he faced an uphill battle to win, but Phillip Huddleston said his father ran anyway because he wanted to bring issues such as economic growth and the importance of cooperating with state and federal governments to the forefront.
"He had a great sense of public service," said Al Cross, a friend of the family and director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky.
Cross said Mr. Huddleston serves as a good example of progressive leadership.
"Earl was always unassuming and honest and direct," he said. "People felt like they could trust him."
In addition to his son Phillip, who lives in Frankfort, Mr. Huddleston is survived by his wife, Maida Allen Huddleston of Monticello, and another son, Doug Huddleston of Bronston.
A funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Talbott Funeral Home in Albany.