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La Grange man’s untimely passing doesn’t cancel plans to honor his life of service
After decades of tireless dedication to his community, a life-long Oldham County resident died Saturday. Willie S. Head — better known to all as “Buddy” — was 74.
Head had been named grand marshal for this year’s Oldham County Day parade and considered it an honor.
“I was just kinda shocked,” Head said in a recent interview about being named grand marshal — family members had kept his nomination a secret.
Fran Curtis, his sister-in-law, spearheaded his nomination and described Head as “Oldham County through-and-through.”
Head said he was born on Walnut Street in 1938.
“I guess you could say I’m a native,” he said.
Curtis cited Head’s community service as her reason for nominating him, including with the Crusade for Children.
Head coordinated the local Crusade efforts for 20 years, she said, and helps set up for the live telecasts.
Five years ago, Head took on a new mission — a mission to see more automated external defibrillators installed across Oldham County.
Head decided he was called on to spread the word about AEDs and their life-saving potential after suffering cardiac arrest in 2007 while at the Mall St. Matthews.
Several people came to Head’s aid, including Huston Brown, then the assistant dean of the School of Health Sciences at St. Catharine’s College.
Brown began CPR and urged a store employee to locate an AED, which he used to restore Head’s heartbeat. AEDs provides instructions to the user and only issues a shock if necessary.
Head decided to turn the incident into something positive.
“After I had that cardiac arrest, I was trying to think what the good Lord kept me here on earth for,” he said.
Soon after the incident, his church — DeHaven Baptist — installed an AED in their building.
Former La Grange Mayor Elsie Carter also had one installed at city hall.
Head served the community in many other capacities, including serving as president of the La Grange Kiwanis Club “four or five times,” he said.
He was serving as president of the Oldham County Fair Board, a position he had also held in the past.
He was a former volunteer firefighter and deputy sheriff and served in the U.S. Army for 16 years — the only time he spent away from Oldham County.
He retired from BF Goodrich after 30 years.
Head had undergone heart surgery in recent weeks but was looking forward to being grand marshal during his recovery.
Oldham County Day coordinators announced Head will still be honored as the parade’s grand marshal and Oldham County Day festivities will be centered around his contributions to the community.
Head’s wife, Judy, and the couple’s grandchildren will participate in the parade.
He’ll also be honored during the Oldham County Day Grand Marshal luncheon July 17.
The luncheon is at noon July 17 at the John W. Black Community Center. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased in advance at 222-0023.
The Oldham County Day Parade is at 10 a.m. July 21 in downtown La Grange.
Head told The Era recently that he considered it an additional honor to have an in-law nominate him for grand marshal — many people don’t get along well with their in-laws, he said, so that made the honor even more meaningful.
Curtis said her brother-in-law exemplifies this year’s Oldham County Day theme.
“He is a small town guy with a big heart,” she said.