Kentucky Governor Bert T. Combs (1959 -1963) is most likely Clay County's most beloved native son. Born August 19th, 1911 at the head of Beech Creek, near Manchester, he was schooled at the Oneida Baptist Institute boarding school downstream at Oneida, graduated from law school at the University of Kentucky, was a decorated veteran of World War II, went on to become the most progressive governor of Kentucky before or since, and, finally, was appointed by President Johnson to serve as a federal judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Governor Combs achieved national recognition for his efforts on behalf of education reform and was recognized as one of the top lawyers in the United States by his peers. Few Kentuckians have reached the heights of public service and achievement that Combs did, yet he remained a Clay Countian to his death. He was a yearly participant at the Memorial Day ceremonies at Beech Creek Cemetery, and after his death in 1991, that's where he returned, to be buried amongst his beloved Beech Creek family and friends following the largest state funeral in Kentucky history.
After law school Combs practiced law in Manchester but found it impossible to make a living because all those friends and neighbors wanted his services for free. He moved to Prestonsburg and set up a practice there.
Governor Combs' widow, Sarah, herself a former Chief Justice on the Kentucky Supreme Court, makes frequent visits to Manchester and Clay County as tribute to her late husband who never left the place in his heart.
Bert T. Combs, Beech Creeker from birth to death