Tom Emberton, a former Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge, died Thursday in an early-morning house fire, right after rescuing his wife from the blaze.
Officials say the fire was discovered around 3:30 a.m. at Emberton’s home in Edmonton, Kentucky.
Emberton, who was in his late 80s, got his wife out of the house safely, but turned around and went back inside, CBS News reported.
He did not make it out of the house after that.
“He heroically rescued his wife and got her to safety. Then he went back in to save his home and lost his life,” Edmonton Mayor Doug Smith, a longtime friend of Emberton, told WBKO.
“Tom was just the greatest guy in the world to be around. He was infectious to everybody. He had a way about him that was really special,” Smith added.
Smith also issued a statement of condolence in light of Emberton’s passing, WBKO reported.
“Today, Kentucky lost a great father, husband, friend and statesman in a tragic accidental house fire. Tom heroically made certain his wife Julia made it to safety but lost his life during his effort to save their home. Tom Emberton was a treasured son of Metcalfe County Kentucky, having served as a lawyer and chief judge of the Ky. Court of appeals. He was the Republican candidate for Governor in 1971. He was a friend to many and always a champion of South Central Ky. His wisdom, kindness and always sage advice was an encouragement to all,” the statement read.
“As a relative of Henry Clay, his ability to mediate and compromise came naturally, an attribute that would serve our country well at this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Julia, his daughter Laura Emberton Owens and son Tom Emberton Jr. and the entire Emberton family. Tom Emberton Jr. and his sister Laura Owens would like to thank the community and especially the first responders for their professionalism, quick response and kindness during this challenging time for their family,” the statement added.
Emberton and his wife had been married for 65 years, WBKO reported.
Emberton had a long career in law and politics, first working as a lawyer in Metcalfe County, Ky. He then unsuccessfully ran for governor in 1971, CBS News reported.
In 1987, Emberton was appointed to the Court of Appeals. He remained on the court, serving for a time as the chief judge, until his retirement in 2004, according to CBS.
Sen. Mitch McConnell from Kentucky fondly remembered Emberton as an early role model.
“Tom gave me one of my earliest experiences in the rough and tumble reality of political campaigning, hiring me to work on his 1971 gubernatorial campaign,” McConnell said in a statement following news of Emberton’s death, CBS reported.
“He taught me valuable lessons on public service and running as a statewide Republican in Kentucky,” McConnell added.
Many others held Emberton in high esteem and offered condolences upon his passing.
Kentucky Rep. James Comer issued an official statement and posted it on Twitter, fondly remembering Emberton.
“Tom was a titan in Kentucky politics and someone I always considered a role model. He was greatly respected for his knowledge of the law and both his honesty and fairness … Tom Emberton will always be remembered as one of the finest, most decent leaders in the history of Kentucky politics,” Comer’s statement read.
Congressman Comer released the following statement on the passing of Tom Emberton: pic.twitter.com/2LqMHHinxy
— Rep. James Comer (@RepJamesComer) October 20, 2022
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