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May 24, 1940 ~ April 14, 2023 (age 82) 82 Years Old
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Lonnie Nelson Napier, 82, of Lancaster, passed away on Friday, April 14, 2023 at Baptist Health Lexington following a brief illness. Napier was born on May 24, 1940, the son of the late Johnny and Ruby Hopkins Napier. He is survived by his wife, the former Barbara Ann Day, son Jeff (Shonda), and “adopted” son John Wilson, as well as his grandchildren Chelsea (Justin) Combs, Whitney (Freeman) Pinkney, Kyla Childress, Adreanna (Davian) Logan, Madison (Blake) Dowell, Dakota Napier, Keannah Childress, and Kaden Childress, along with seven great-grandchildren and also his brother Gary Dean Napier, and sister, Janice Napier Fain. Napier was predeceased by his son, David, as well as his brothers Dorse Napier, John Wayne Napier, and Jerry Mitchell Napier.
Napier represented the 36th District in the Kentucky House of Representatives for 28 years, from 1985 until 2013. In his successful 1984 campaign, Napier received the endorsement of President Ronald Reagan.
Napier was once described by a friend as a “courtly gentleman with country smarts,” and that was an apt description. From humble beginnings having attended a one room schoolhouse in rural Garrard County, with true grit and hard work, Napier established himself as one of Kentucky’s most respected and successful politicians, winning 14 consecutive elections by large margins until he decided to retire in 2012. He loved to tell and hear stories about Kentucky politics, and he was twice named the “Orator of the House” by his colleagues. Prior to his legislative career, Napier served as a County Magistrate on the Garrard Co. Fiscal Court, being the youngest person ever elected in the county at that time.
Napier was a successful businessman as owner of Napier Brothers Clothing Store in Lancaster as well as a champion auctioneer and realtor. He was a past president of the Kentucky Auctioneer Association and was chosen as “Man of the Year” by the Garrard Co. Chamber of Commerce. Napier also started the Garrard County Newspaper in 1971 and served in the Kentucky National Guard.
Napier loved his Lord, his family, Garrard County, and Kentucky—in that order. He had a wide circle of friends across the state, including a special group of young men who served him as interns and aides during his legislative career. Napier had a big heart and a sense of humor and was beloved by both sides of the political aisle as someone who was a devoted fighter for the average Kentuckian. He was a graduate of Garrard County High School, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree from Eastern Kentucky University based on his constant support for higher education in the Commonwealth.
Some of Napier’s proudest accomplishments as state representative were the construction of the new Garrard Co. Justice Center, the establishment of an EKU satellite campus in Lancaster, restoration of the historic Grand Theatre in Lancaster, revitalization of Old Town Berea and the establishment of the Kentucky Artisan Center, as well as improvements to State Highway 52, U.S. 27, and making Copper Creek and Hamilton Valley state highways.
Visitation will on Friday, April 21 from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Lancaster Church of God. Funeral services will be on Saturday, April 22 at 11:00 am at the Lancaster Church of God.
Active pallbearers will be Ray Hammonds, Dwight Butler, Eddie Wilmot, Danny Irvin, James Bushnell, Ed Worley, Nathan Mick, and Danny Ford. Honorary pallbearers will be the late Cecil Arnold, Harry Moberly, David Nichols, Earl Alexander, Chris Thomason, Brandon Brown, Steve Manning, Donna Powell, Jason Wheeler, and Greg Stumbo. Eulogists will be T. J. Litafik, John Wilson, and Harry Moberly.
Napier was a longtime member of the Lancaster Church of God. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial contributions be made to the church.