Oldham County Historical Society Gala

This year's event to honor Snell,
a 'true champion of history'

Jazz era theme will liven the party atmosphere

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (September 2006) – “Kim Snell was a true champion at a young age,” said Oldham County Historical Society President Bob Martin about his predecessor. Earlier this year Martin realized he had some big shoes to fill as he tried to step into the void left behind after Snell’s sudden death last fall.

Kim Snell

Photo by Don Ward

The late Kim Snell
emceed this event in
2004 when it was
held in Louisville.

Snell will posthumously receive the J. Chilton Barnett Champion of Oldham County History award at the historical society’s annual Gala on September 29. Held at the Oldham County History Center in La Grange, the theme for this year’s Gala is “All That Jazz.”
“It will be a celebration of Kim’s life,” said Karen Eldridge, chairperson of the Gala. “To me he was an amazing man. He was passionate about history.” Eldridge said she was astonished at the way Snell was willing to work and promote Oldham County when it was not his hometown.
Roy Kimberly Snell was born on May 18, 1951, in Texas. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Texas, a master’s degree in history from the University of Virginia and a Juris Doctor from the University of Texas Law School.
During the 1990s, Snell served as assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Oldham, Trimble and Henry counties. In 1999, he was elected chief prosecutor in Kentucky’s 12th Judicial Circuit. He was a partner in the Louisville office of Stites and Harbison, then a partner in the law firm he co-founded in 1990 known as Croley, Moore and Snell.
Snell gave back many times over to his adopted state of Kentucky and the Oldham County community. He served as president of the board of directors for the Oldham County Historical Society and held a seat on the board of directors for Yew Dell Gardens.
In February 2005, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He was 53 years old and walked 4 1/2 miles each day on his treadmill. Cancer at his age seemed impossible.
In an article titled, “The Obligation of the Cured: A Cancer Survivor Speaks Out,” published in "Your View" by the Louisville Courier-Journal on Aug. 17, 2005, Snell wrote about Lance Armstrong’s battle with cancer. Armstrong recovered and won the Tour de France six times.
Snell admired such courage and bought a copy of Armstrong’s book, “It’s Not About the Bike.” It gave him the strength he needed to tackle chemo and radiation treatments.
In this same article, Snell wrote about his own challenge. “I have learned valuable insights about pain, fear and recovery that will strengthen me in my life and work,” he wrote.
Snell had also battled prostate cancer before succumbing to a stroke on Nov. 6, 2005. For those who didn’t know him, “He would have surprised you,” said Martin. “Most people think of lawyers as stuffy, but Roy had a wonderful sense of humor.”
Martin said Snell became interested in the community of Oldham County after moving there from Texas, and the people got to know him well. He took on the personal project of getting involved in the community.
“He kept the historical society on a healthy footing,” said Martin.
“We were very fortunate to have an individual of his caliber in the county,” said Eldridge. And fortunate to have “so many people willing to save our heritage in the county.”
Accepting this award for Snell will be his wife of 25 years, Virginia Hamilton Snell, and his parents, Roy D. and Sadie Z. Snell. Not enough nice things can be said about Snell before the evening will run out.
In addition to Eldridge, the event will also have an honorary chair, Steve Norton, of The Bank of Oldham County. Katie and the Cruisers will provide music for the Roaring 1920s-style evening.
There will also be a catered dinner, an open bar and live and silent auctions under the Gala Tent on the grounds of the history center. Proceeds go to the historical society’s general operating fund.
Due to its popularity, the Amos G. Mount Civil War Letters exhibit has been extended at the history center until Oct. 14. Mount was an Oldham County native and Union soldier in Company B of the 6th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry U.S. during the Civil War.
Also on display during this time will be the Smithsonian exhibition, “Key Ingredients: America by Food.” Patrons of the Gala will be able to tour both exhibits.

• For more information on the Gala, contact Nancy Theiss at (502) 222-0826.

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