HAZARD — Sherman Neace passed away Friday morning at the age of 75. His memory, however, will remain part of daily life in Perry County, perhaps throughout our lifetime.
Sherman Neace served three consecutive terms as Perry County Judge Executive. The park in Hazard is named Neace-Gorman Park because the major upgrades that made the park what it is today happened when Sherman Neace and Bill Gorman were in office together. The Sherman Neace Athletic Center was built so students of M.C. Napier High School would finally have a gym. It is hard to imagine a school without a gymnasium these days, but before the Sherman Neace Athletic Center opened, M.C. Napier did not have one. In the early 1980s, prior to Neace taking office, a majority of county roads were covered by gravels. The creeks were crossed on wooden bridges. By the 1990s, in the midst of Neace’s tenure as Perry County Judge Executive, the gravels gave way to asphalt and the bridges became concrete. Public waterlines also stretched throughout numerous hollows for the first time. Folks flocked into Perry County every weekend to enjoy races at the Perry County Speedway, which Neace helped manage for awhile. The Coalfields Industrial Park was established, with factories running strong. ARH opened a new hospital in Hazard, which still stands today, and is one of Perry County’s largest employers. Along with the hospital came the development of the Hazard Village Shopping Center. The Black Gold Shopping Center also broke ground on Sherman’s watch. Neace led an administration that, during its height, likely would have sparked jealousy in a few Presidents.
Sherman Neace’s family and close friends grieve his passing because of the love they shared for one another, but many people in Perry County, who never met Neace, will mourn his death because his life represented an era in the community’s history, which was as close to golden as they have yet to experience.
According to the deputy coroner, Sherman Neace died from a gunshot wound he received at home. No foul play is suspected. Neace was also a businessman in Perry County throughout most of his life. He leaves behind several loving family members and close friends.
This is the obituary announcement for Sherman Neace, which was released by Maggard’s Mountain View Chapel Friday afternoon:
Sherman Neace, age 75, of Bonnyman, passed away on April 15 at the Hazard Medical Center. Neace was a private business owner and a former Judge Executive. He was the son of Jesse “Bud” Neace Jr. and the late Lula Allen Neace. He is also preceded in death by one brother: Hargis Neace.
He was survived by two sons: Estill (Renee) Neace and Philip (Heather) Neace both of Hazard; companion: Lea Sparks; four grandchildren: Chance Neace, Austin Neace, Michael Neace and Jade Neace; special nephew: William Neace; special niece: Krista Neace and a host of nieces, nephews, family and friends.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Greg and Noreen Wells Hospice Care. Arrangements are being handled by Maggard Mtn. View Chapel, where the family will receive friends from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., April 17. Celebration of life service will be at Maggard Mtn. View Chapel at 2:00 p.m., April 17, with Rev. Merrill David Collins officiating.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.