Local Obituaries

Former assistant Fayette schools chief Robert N. Cocanougher dies

Robert N. "Bob" Cocanougher
Robert N. "Bob" Cocanougher

Robert N. "Bob" Cocanougher, a former assistant Fayette County public schools superintendent who was known for his expertise in school finance, died Sunday at his home in Lexington. He was 80.

Mr. Cocanougher wore many hats during his tenure in the local school system from 1959 to 1986. He was the first football coach and taught mathematics at Bryan Station High School, and he was the school system's personnel director before he became assistant superintendent of general administration. He also was the Fayette County school board's secretary, beginning in 1984.

He was then-superintendent Guy Potts' right-hand man, friend and former colleague Robert Elam said.

Mr. Cocanougher had a big hand in school construction and renovation in Fayette County from the early 1970s until his retirement. As assistant superintendent, he was the architect of the school system's budget. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he helped guide the city and county school systems through a merger and desegregation.

"He was honest, conscientious. He had the school system and the school children at heart," said Elam, a former assistant Fayette County schools superintendent for financial services. "He worked well with all of the people he came in contact with. He was a smart man."

Mr. Cocanougher even rode school buses in winter to check whether school should be held, Elam said.

"He was probably at one time the most prominent person in state education in financing. He knew more about school financing than probably anybody else," said Tom Mahanes, former Fayette County schools personnel director.

"His office was always open to anyone who wanted to come in and talk and visit," said Ken Cox, former principal at Tates Creek High School and now athletic director for Jessamine County schools. "His legacy will live in Fayette County forever."

Mr. Cocanougher, a Springfield native, also taught in Jefferson County schools early in his career and at Centre College and Eastern Kentucky University.

After retirement, he worked as a consultant for Johnson Romanowitz Architects.

He was a graduate of Centre College and did graduate work at the University of Kentucky. He also was an Army veteran. A member of First Presbyterian Church, he had been a church elder and deacon.

Survivors include his wife, Joanne Mateer Cocanougher; a daughter, Karen Lee Cocanougher of Nicholasville; and a brother, Kelly Cocanougher of Louisville.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at First Presbyterian Church. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at W.R. Milward Mortuary — Broadway. Memorial gifts are suggested to Hospice of the Bluegrass, American Cancer Society or First Presbyterian Church.

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