Allen Dizney was almost obsessive about his collection of old photographs, newspaper clippings, directories and other items of historical significance about the city of Corbin.
Dizney — a business owner, WWII veteran and local historian, died Sunday at the age of 90.
Dizney’s intense interest in preserving the history of the town in which he lived made him a valuable resource to many. Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney said it was not uncommon that he would consult Dizney, who was literally his neighbor, about something in Corbin’s past he needed the answer to.
“That was one of our last living links to the history of Corbin right there,” McBurney said Tuesday. “We talked a lot. He really loved Corbin. He could tell you a lot about the old history and how some of the things we see today got started. He was a fascinating person.”
McBurney said if there ever arose disagreement over Dizney’s recollection of town events, he’d research them thoroughly to set the record straight.
“He pretty well had it down, but if he was wrong, he’d admit it. He’d tell you,” McBurney said.
“But you know what … he was right most of the time.”
Dizney lived most of his life in Corbin. He was the longest living member of First Baptist Church. He was a Sunday School teacher there and an usher.
He served in WWII with the U.S. Army Air Corp and was a strong supporter of veterans. He led the effort to display American flags along Main Street in Corbin on Flag Day and holidays related to veterans.
Dizney founded Dizney’s Gulf Station at the corner of Gordon and Main Streets before moving it onto Cumberland Falls Hwy. He closed the station about 30 years ago, but still managed a mobile home park he owned near its location.
Curt Dizney, Allen Dizney’s only surviving son, said his father was intensely proud of his participation in the local Lion’s Club where he served as a past president and was only the second person from this area ever to serve as a District Governor for the organization. Dizney got to meet Bob Hope in the 1970s when the club opened a center in Louisville dedicated to improving eye care.
He was one of the first members ever of The Corbin’s Lions Club. One of his biggest passions in the club was helping with its annual Christmas Basket program.
“A lot of good men came to the Lions Club because of my dad,” Curt Dizney said.
Dizney was very involved in community activities. He was one of the town’s original volunteer firefighters. He served as an official for the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and helped with the town’s Little League program. He also served, for a time, as Corbin’s Building Code Officer.
“My dad was a big part of a lot of things,” Curt Dizney said. “He loved Corbin. He wanted to let everybody know about Corbin. And he didn’t want anyone to forget what Corbin was like and how good it was. He wanted people to know what a great place it was.”
Curt said the death of his brother, Scott, about 30 years ago was one of the saddest moments in his father’s life.
Scott Dizney was found dead in his home in Evansville, Ind. An autopsy was conducted, but no cause of death was ever determined.
“That really bothered dad,” Curt Dizney said. “He and my brother had talked on the phone just prior to that. Dad told me that he would have talked to him every day and he didn’t care how much it would have run up the phone bill if he would have known we’d lose my brother so soon.”
“He was always supportive. He was all about family and his church and Corbin,” he added. “He wasn’t perfect … nobody is. But he was usually right about things. Him being gone leaves a big hole in my life.”
Dizney suffered a stroke recently and had been ill since.
Even in his later years, Dizney stayed interested in the preservation of Corbin’s history.
He helped write a successful grant application that resulted in $50,000 being awarded to help start the Corbin Railroad Museum. Money was used to renovate the old L&N Depot building. It contains some display cases with memorabilia pertaining to the railroad.
McBurney said people like Dizney are so important to the town because there are only a few that have such keen mental focus at such an advanced age.
“When you’ve got someone that directly remembers things in Corbin from years back so clearly, and then they have so much documentation to back it up, that’s a valuable line of information,” McBurney said. “Allen was really an important part of this town. It would be a shame to see all that information he collected destroyed or just disappear.”
McBurney said he hopes the items Dizney collected would stay with the family, or be preserved in some other way so it could be accessed in the future.
Funeral services for Dizney will be held Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. at Vankirk-Grisell Funeral Home. Visitation will begin at 11:00 a.m. He will be laid to rest in Resthaven Cemetery.