Dr. David Stevens of Lexington, who led successful effort for Kentucky’s first local-government smoking ban, dies at 87

Dr. David Stevens (Lexington Herald-Leader photo)

Dr. David Stevens, a retired orthopedic surgeon who was instrumental in getting a smoking ban in Lexington, died Monday at age 87.

Stevens, a Republican, served on the nonpartisan Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council from 1992 to 2008 as an at-large and 5th District member. He was a member of the merger commission that drafted the charter for the merged government, Tom Eblen reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

“David Stevens lived a life that lifted up and cared for others,” Mayor Jim Gray said in a statement. “He was a touchstone for all things good and generous in Lexington. He epitomized what a citizen and a gentleman should be, and indeed in countless ways, he made our city a better and healthier place to live.”

Ellen Hahn, a nursing professor at the University of Kentucky, and a leader of smoke-free efforts in the state, told Eblen that Stevens became convinced of the need for a smoking ban in Lexington after attending a two-day conference that she helped organize in 2000 about the dangers of second-hand smoke. It took him three years to persuade the other council members to enact the region’s first municipal smoking ban.

“He was a visionary,” Hahn said. “And he provided the leadership in a steady, calm way. He cared about public health.”

Stevens was involved with the Lexington-Fayette Board of Health and many other agencies and civic efforts. Stevens was a founding member and board chairman of the Central Kentucky Blood Center in 1968, and its first donor. He  taught at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, was president of the Fayette County Medical Society and was a member of the University Community Caucus of the National League of Cities, Eblen reports.

He was in private practice as an orthopedic surgeon for 20 years, and then spent two more decades as chief of staff of Shriners Hospital for Children. And for many years, he was the sports physician for Henry Clay High School and Paul Laurence Dunbar High School.  He grew up in Louisville and graduated from DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., in 1951.

Visitation will be 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at Milward Funeral Directors on Broadway and at 10 a.m. Saturday at Crestwood Christian Church, 1882 Bellefonte Drive. The funeral will be at the church at 11 a.m. Saturday, with a reception afterward. There will be a private burial at Lexington Cemetery. 

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