Former tourism secretary and mayor of Prestonsburg Ann Latta dies

Ann Roberts Latta, former secretary of the Kentucky Tourism Development Cabinet and the first woman elected mayor of Prestonsburg, died Monday at her Prestonsburg home.

She was 73.

Then-Gov. Paul Patton named Mrs. Latta to head the Tourism Development Cabinet in 1995, and she was the first tourism professional to hold the post. She led the cabinet for eight years, overseeing state programs that included parks, fish and wildlife, the Kentucky Horse Park and the Kentucky State Fair Board.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources launched the reintroduction of elk into Kentucky during her tenure. Mrs. Latta also was instrumental in the creation of the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, serving as its first board chair. She also served as Kentucky's acting state parks commissioner in 2002-03.

"She was an outstanding individual," Patton said Tuesday. "She was very dedicated to the state of Kentucky and to tourism in particular.

"Ann was real workhorse, and I think one of only four cabinet secretaries that served all eight years of my administration. She was involved in many things, but I think she viewed that as the capstone of her career."

Mrs. Latta was elected mayor of Prestonsburg in 1986, and went on to serve two terms. She helped create the city's first tourism commission, launching construction of the $7 million Mountain Arts Center and initiating efforts to build the River Walk, a jogging and walking facility at Prestonsburg Community College.

Mrs. Latta's wide-ranging career also included stints as assistant public relations director for the U.S. Travel Service in Washington, and as a newspaper reporter for the Lexington Herald and the Huntington, W.Va., Herald-Dispatch.

She was born Aug. 7, 1937, in Lexington, the daughter of A. Dudley and Mary W. Roberts. She graduated from Lafayette High School and completed a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kentucky in 1959. Mrs. Latta received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from Morehead State University in 2001.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Prestonsburg attorney Clifford B. Latta, in 2006. They were married 36 years.

Survivors include three children, Clifford B. Latta III, of Pensacola, Fla.; Audrey Hudson Flanagan, of Washington, D.C., and Jackson Dudley Latta, of Prestonsburg; three sisters, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, and nine nephews and nieces.

Funeral services will be held 11 a.m. Thursday at the St. James Episcopal Church in Prestonsburg, followed by burial at the Mayo Cemetery. Visitation will be from 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Carter Funeral Home in Prestonsburg. Donations may be made to St. James Episcopal Church.