Laurel True, longtime advocate for health, education and human services, dies suddenly at 80

Laurel W. True, who continued his public service for health and other causes long after leaving state government, died suddenly Saturday at his home near Waddy in Shelby County. He was 80.

“For the past five decades, Mr. True worked tirelessly to improve the health and welfare of Kentuckians,” The Courier-Journal said in an editorial. In the 1970s True was the first secretary of the old Cabinet for Human Resources and executive director of Kentucky Health Systems Agency-West, a state health-planning organization, and was an assistant superintendent of public instruction. Earlier, he helped start Medicaid in Kentucky and the conversion of United Mine Workers hospitals into Appalachian Regional Hospitals.

In retirement he continued as an advocate for health, education and human services as a member of the National Policy Council of AARP, vice chairman of the board of Seven Counties Services, secretary of Kentucky Voices for Health, a member of the Friedell Committee for Health System Transformation and as a trustee of Georgetown College, his alma mater. Under the aegis of the Freidell Committee in 2009, True conducted a study of the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program in Anderson County, which helped lead to policy changes designed to ease and encourage enrollment in KCHIP.

“He was a wonderful champion all of his life,” Sheila Schuster, a longtime mental health advocate, told The Courier-Journal. “He was never boastful or self-serving.”

Visitation will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and 9 to 10 a.m. Wednesday at Immanuel Baptist Church in Frankfort, where True was a deacon and Sunday School teacher. The funeral will follow at 10 a.m., with internment in Frankfort Cemetery and arrangements by LeCompte-Johnson-Taylor Funeral Home. Donations are suggested to the Infant Resource Center at Immanuel Baptist Church, 1075 Collins Lane, Frankfort KY 40601. (Read more)

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