Coach, 'servant' Sallee dies at 54

Ralph Sallee, who spent his adult life as a preacher, teacher and basketball coach in Central Kentucky, died Friday afternoon following a 10-month battle with cancer.

He was 54.

Mr. Sallee shared with the Herald-Leader his story of how he relied on his faith, family, friends and players to fight the terminal illness while continuing to embrace life.

"We take each day as a day the Lord has made and let us rejoice and be glad in it," Mr. Sallee said the week before Christmas. "That's come more to the forefront since I was diagnosed."

Mr. Sallee is survived by his wife Alesia, son Nate and daughter Courtney.

Mr. Sallee's father, Thomas "T.C." Sallee died in November. His mother, Barbara, lives in Mercer County.

Mr. Sallee was a graduate of Mercer County High School and Cincinnati Bible College, where he played basketball and baseball.

He earned his master's degree at Xavier University.

Mr. Sallee had been a preacher at Scotts Fork Christian Church in Garrard County since 1981, and was in the pulpit almost every Sunday after he was diagnosed with esophageal and liver cancer last March.

He coached girls' basketball at Burgin, Lexington Christian Academy and East Jessamine.

He had been at East Jessamine the past five years, and was on the bench for the Lady Jaguars' victory over archrival West Jessamine on Jan. 9. His health deteriorated after that and he was unable to attend any more games.

Nate Sallee said it was no coincidence that his father's three passions were preaching, teaching and coaching.

"That was him — he was a servant," Nate said.

Funeral arrangements are pending. Ramsey Funeral Home in Lancaster is in charge of arrangements.

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