Politics & Government

Edward Farris, 96, longtime Kentucky official, aide to governors, dies

Edward Farris
Edward Farris

Edward A. Farris, a longtime political figure in Kentucky government who was a close adviser to late Govs. Earle C. Clements in the late 1940s and Lawrence W. Wetherby in the 1950s and state Alcoholic Beverage Commissioner for Govs. Julian Carrroll, John Y. Brown Jr. and Martha Layne Collins, died late Saturday night at Baptist Health Lexington. He was 96.

A native of Adair County, Farris was “a truly great public servant,” said Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd, a longtime friend and neighbor.

Shepherd said Farris was executive secretary for Clements and Wetherby. The position is now called chief of staff.

Farris played a big role in several key decisions during those administrations, said Shepherd, including supporting integration in the state after the U.S. Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education ruling, funding rural roads, reforming school finance and establishing the state parks system.

“He was the classic behind the scenes political operative who was a brilliant political tactician and strategist, but who was motivated solely by the public interest and never by money or self interest,” said Shepherd.

Farris was an infantry sergeant under General George S. Patton in World War II.

Private graveside service will be in the Cane Valley Cemetery in Adair County with full military honors by VFW Post 6097.

There will be no visitation. Grissom Martin Funeral Home in Columbia is handling arrangements.