Larry Van Hoose, a journalist who went on to become a gubernatorial press secretary, aide to congressmen and director of the Republican Party in Kentucky, has died.
Mr. Van Hoose died Tuesday in Cape Coral, Fla., where he had lived for about a year. He was 76.
He was born July 27, 1938, a son of the late Leslie and Myrtle Van Hoose, and he grew up in Paintsville. At the University of Kentucky, Mr. Van Hoose worked on the student newspaper, The Kentucky Kernel, and he later wrote for the Lexington Leader.
He was a stringer for Sports Illustrated for awhile, and he sold insurance.
In the late 1960s, an interest in Republican politics led Mr. Van Hoose to a post in the administration of recently elected Republican Gov. Louie B. Nunn. He became Nunn's press secretary, speech writer and "just about everything else," said Fred Karem, then a principal aide to Nunn.
"He became one of the top administrative assistants and counselors to the governor," Karem said Thursday. "I really think Larry probably was the indispensable person in the cabinet and the governor's office. That's how important his contribution was."
Karem, a close friend, said Mr. Van Hoose was at home in the competitive world of Kentucky politics, but he always "retained his good nature and decency, right to the end of his life."
Mr. Van Hoose's son, Todd Van Hoose, said his father and Nunn enjoyed a special rapport.
"He was the governor's voice; he wrote just about every word that came out of the governor's mouth," Todd Van Hoose said. "He understood the way the governor thought. And the governor gave him the leeway to express it the way he wanted."
After working in the Nunn administration, Mr. Van Hoose was executive director of the Kentucky Republican Party before becoming chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Larry Hopkins of Lexington. He later worked for other Republican congressmen, including Ed Whitfield of Kentucky, Martin Hoke of Ohio and J.D. Hayworth of Arizona.
"I trusted Larry; he was a great sounding board for ideas," Hopkins said Thursday. "He didn't always agree with the way I voted, and he would tell me that.
"A lot of people liked him on both sides of the aisle. But Larry was a Republican's Republican."
Mr. Van Hoose was preceded in death by his wife Martelle. He is survived by two sons, Todd and Howard, and two grandchildren.
A memorial service is planned in Lexington in the coming weeks, Todd Van Hoose said.