Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley said he’s thankful for the “tight knit” community full of positive influences he’s had during his lifetime, and called being named Leader of the Year a “humbling” experience.
Croley was presented the award last Thursday during the Leadership Tri-County Leader of the Year banquet, held at the Williamsburg Tourism Center.
Serving his second term as Coroner, and seeking a third, Croley notably has provided his services during several high-profile disasters including Hurricane Katrina and Comair Crash Flight 5191. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was asked to go to New York City to help on a special recovery team following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
During his keynote speech at the banquet, Croley paid tribute to all of his teachers, coaches, mentors and family for helping him over the years.
“I am grateful to everyone. It is me on stage receiving this leadership award, but there’s no way I can accept it without letting you know of the leaders in my life that have instructed me and helped me be who I am today,” Croley said.
He gave special thanks to his wife, Tracy, and his parents.
“They gave me so many life lessons … I can never repay them for the all the lessons I learned.”
In addition to his work in public office, Croley is also one of the founders, and past Chairman of the board of directors, of the Border Bowl — a non-profit organization established to help promote high school football in Kentucky and Tennessee. A Border Bowl all-star game is held annually. In the past, it was held in Williamsburg but has since been moved to Sevierville, and has also been expanded to include players from Georgia and North Carolina.
“I just want to say I’m grateful having this award and I’m so grateful for Leadership Tri-County and what it does for our community, and how fortunate we are to have such a diverse, excellent organization in this community,” Croley said.
Croley was introduced by Dr. Michael Colegrove, a past recipient of the award and the former Vice President of Student Services at University of the Cumberlands.
“Andy Croley lives a life of service,” Colegrove said. “Service to his family. Service to his community. Service to the state. Service to the country and service to his God through his service to his fellow man.”
Also honored at the banquet, posthumously, was former Williamsburg Independent Schools Superintendent Jesse B. “Jake” Mountjoy. He passed away last October. His wife, former Williamsburg Mayor Marcella Mountjoy, accepted the 2018 Luminary Award on his behalf.
Rich Prewitt, a retired educator and administrator who worked in the Williamsburg, Whitley County and Corbin School Systems, remembered Mountjoy fondly. Prewitt was a biology teacher at Williamsburg High School and served as the boy’s varsity basketball coach under Mountjoy.
Mountjoy was an educator in the Williamsburg schools for 32 years, including a 12-year stint as Superintendent. He also served in the US Navy during WWII as a gunner on a Merchant Marine ship.
“He was just the kind of man that if would have bled, I’m sure he would have bled out orange because he loved his school and he loved his kids and he loved his staff … and he would do anything he could to make your life better,” Prewitt said.
“He was the epitome of a public servant. It was never about him or him being a big shot or all of that. It was always about the kids … and that’s why I loved him.”
Marcella Mountjoy said her husband, though not a native of Whitley County, died loving his adopted home with all of his heart.
“The memories that we have of this wonderful man … I can’t say I’m lonely because I have all of those things in my mind that happened in our 69 years together,” she said. “I’m so proud of the name Mountjoy.”
“Jake knew he was living where he was loved and cared for.”