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Taylor Trustee Russell Petty dies

Taylor Trustee Russell Petty dies
Taylor Trustee Russell Petty dies
Russell Petty enjoyed visiting his constituents in Taylor Township, where he was trustee for almost three terms. (File photo by Randy West)

Russell F. Petty of Elizabeth, the Taylor Township trustee who became a familiar and genial figure at many government and community meetings the past few years, died Monday morning at his home. He was 75 and had almost finished his third term in office.
Harrison County Auditor Karen Engleman said Petty had told her he was hoping to be able to complete his term, on Dec. 31, although he knew his health was failing.
Dr. Neyland Clark, superintendent of the South Harrison Community School Corp., said he was “tremendously saddened” when he learned about Petty’s death yesterday morning.
“I don’t think the community will understand the loss … but it will be felt for years to come,” he said. Petty was “a tremendous advocate for the taxpayers” of the South Harrison school system, which includes Taylor Township.
Petty would go to Indianapolis to lobby state legislators for a school funding formula that would be more fair to the smaller rural schools like those in the South Harrison system that are underfunded, Clark said.
Besides school funding, Petty encouraged research for an animal control shelter for Harrison County.
“He and I visited some of the same places (that have animal control) to try to work out some things” for Harrison County, said former council chair Earl Saulman of Corydon.
Petty, a former member of the Harrison County Advisory Plan Commission and a dedicated public servant, attended countless meetings of the county commissioners and council.
“He was always interested in what was going on,” Saulman said. “He was very easy for me to work with; we saw eye to eye on a lot of things.”
Steve Haggard, chairman of the Harrison County Democratic Central Committee, said he is unsure if the party will be required to hold a caucus to elect Petty’s successor because of the timing, but he is checking the rules.
Mark Redden was seeking election as the new Taylor Township trustee in yesterday’s general election. He had no opposition.
Petty was a native of Underwood, born Dec. 14, 1926, the son of the late Floyd and Alabama Roth Petty.
Petty retired from Englehardt Chemical Co. in Louisville, where he worked in the maintenance department. He was a Navy veteran of World War II, a member of New Albany Lodge F&AM, and a former assessor for Harrison County. He was also active with the Step Ahead program for underprivileged children.
Survivors include his wife, the former Helen M. Rezac; a son, Roy C. Petty of New Albany; two daughters, Linda M. Petty of Nashville and Kay Petty of Saginaw, Mich.; a brother, Newell Petty of Fairhope, Ala.; and three grandchildren.
Visitation will be today (Wednesday) from 5 to 8 p.m. and tomorrow from noon to 8 p.m. at Seabrook Dieckmann and Naville Funeral Home on Market Street in New Albany.
The funeral will be Friday at 10 a.m. at the funeral home with burial in Evans Landing Cemetery.
The family suggests memorial gifts to the American Lung Assoc.