By JOEL WILSON, Editor emeritus
GLASGOW — Carroll F. Knicely, former owner, editor and publisher of the Glasgow Daily Times, died Thursday morning at T.J. Samson Community Hospital. He was 77.
A native of Staunton, Va., Knicely rose from an apprentice linotype operator at a small Virginia newspaper to owner of a newspaper publishing group and a long and varied business career, including Secretary of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet. During his tenure in state government, he helped three Kentucky governors bring an estimated 100,000 industrial jobs to the state.
He came to Glasgow in 1957 as president, editor and publisher of the Glasgow Daily Times in partnership with his former boss at the Waynesboro News-Virginian, Louis Spillman.
In 1958, Knicely led the effort to convert to offset printing, the first daily newspaper east of the Mississippi to do so, and only the third daily newspaper in the country to print on a rotary web offset press.
Knicely became an expert in the method and the Glasgow operation was a training ground for what is now the accepted way to print a newspaper. The change also necessitated the move from the West Public Square to larger quarters in a former auto dealership building on South Green Street.
In 1963, Knicely and his wife, Evelyn, became sole owners of the Glasgow Daily Times and Glasgow Publishing Corp. He later sold stock in the newspaper but retained 86 percent ownership.
In 1967, Glasgow Publishing acquired its weekly competitor, the Glasgow Republican, which he continued to publish under that name as long as he owned Glasgow Publishing.
During his days in newspapering, Knicely also owned interests in newspapers in Columbia, Campbellsville, Middlesboro, Hopkinsville (Fort Campbell), Pineville, Scottsville, Shepherdsville and owned a printing facility near Louisville. He also had part ownership of a weekly newspaper in Westmoreland, Tenn., all under the auspices of Associated Publications.
As a publisher, he was fearless in his pursuit of improvements of the community, often taking unpopular stands on controversial issues and butting heads with community leaders.
It was largely through his efforts that Cave City received funding for the Cave City Convention Center and he was recognized by the Cave City Chamber for his efforts.
He sold his two Glasgow newspapers in 1976 to Donrey Media Group of Fort Smith, Ark., but remained with the group in an advisory capacity for a year.
Also during his time as a newspaper publisher in Glasgow, he was interim Postmaster from 1966 to 1968.
He served the newspaper industry in a number of ways, including president of the Kentucky Press Association and president of the Kentucky Journalism Foundation. He was named the Most Valuable Member of the Kentucky Press Association and, under his leadership, the Glasgow Daily Times received numerous KPA awards, including being named the best newspaper in its class in 1967.
He was a former national president of the Travelers Protective Association with a national membership of nearly a quarter million. He also served as president of the Kentucky TPA and Post B TPA.
A longtime supporter of Western Kentucky University, he served and was elected vice chair of the WKU Board of Regents beginning in 1976. He was instrumental in the success of the university’s nationally known journalism department. WKU’s economic development program’s building on Nashville Road in Bowling Green is named in his honor.
He began his career in state government when then Gov. Julian Carroll asked Knicely to serve as commerce commissioner during the final year of Carroll’s administrator and it was through Knicely’s efforts during that year that Kentucky secured the location of the Corvette plant in Bowling Green.
He took a brief respite from his work in state government in 1982 to earn his college degree from Barry University in Miami, graduating summa cum laude with a perfect 4.0 average.
Gov. Martha Layne Collins convinced Knicely to return to state government as Secretary of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet after her election in 1983. He later served briefly during the administration of Wallace Wilkinson. Knicely helped develop an economic development plan that included an expanded presence in Europe and Asia. He was instrumental in bringing the Toyota plant to Georgetown, which meant 3,500 jobs and a $1.1 billion investment.
In Glasgow, he was both a retail and residential developer, being part owner of Southgate Plaza and developer of the Pritchardsville area subdivision known as Augusta Circle, where he called home.
All the while, Knicely continued his many civic activities that included his devotion to the Glasgow Rotary Club. He maintained an almost 50-year record of perfect attendance, visiting many clubs while traveling. He served as director, vice president and president of the Glasgow club and served on the Rotary Foundation Awards Committee. He was a Paul Harris Fellow and helped many others attain that recognition.
He served as president of the Glasgow-Barren County Chamber of Commerce, was a Mason, Shriner and chaired many local fund drives. He was a member of the Glasgow Baptist Church.
He leaves a wife, the former Evelyn Furr of Dayton, Va., two sons, three daughters, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be 2 p.m. Monday at Glasgow Baptist Church. Visitation will be after 3 p.m. Sunday at A.F. Crow & Son Funeral Home in Glasgow.