Even after his playing days as a member of the Corbin Redhounds football team, Alan Onkst continued to make an impact in the community as a businessman, city commissioner, police officer, member of the Corbin Tourism Commission and member of the Redhound Varsity Club.
“He loved to serve,” said Terry Joe Martin, who was friends with Onkst for more than 50 years and worked with him as a member of the Redhound Varsity Club.
Onkst, who died July 3 at age 61, was laid to rest Saturday at Pine Hill Cemetery.
Martin said Onkst worked to do everything he could to give back to his friends, his church and his community.
“He loved Corbin,” Martin said of Onkst.
Martin added that Onkst made every effort to stay under the radar.
“He didn’t want all that fame and glory,” Martin said.
Constable Ron “Bubba” Bowling, who is also a member of the varsity club, recalled when there were discussions among the members about cutting out some of the extracurricular activities at the annual Cumberland Falls Pigskin Classic.
Some of the members argued with attendance declining and the cost of the event increasing, cuts would have to be made.
“Alan was the one to stand up and say that people come to Corbin because it is special and that when you start taking those things away, you lose the event,” Bowling explained. “He said, ‘You don’t need to cut stuff out. You need to come up with a way to raise more money.’”
Martin said with Onkst gone, the Redhound Varsity Club has some very big shoes to fil.
“If you have heard the old George Jones song, ‘Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes,’ it is very appropriate,” Martin said.
“Who is going to step up, not only for the varsity club, but as the ambassador for Corbin,” he said. “I thought about that. A lot of us are going to have to step up. It is going to be hard.”
Bowling said Onkst was a unique individual, explaining the only other person that came close in his mind was former Judge David Burton.
“Judge Burton touched so many people in his short lifetime. Alan did the same thing. “Anytime you see Alan you automatically think of Corbin,” Bowling said.
Bowling said Onkst’s love of Corbin Redhound athletics went far beyond the football field.
“Alan was Mr. Redhound! “Bowling said. “Whether it was baseball, basketball, football, or soccer, you would see him out at the games cheering on the Hounds.”
Bowling said Onkst was passionate about all things Corbin.
As part of that, Onkst served two terms on the Corbin City Commission and, later, as a member of the Corbin Tourism Commission.
Tourism Director Maggy Kriebel said Onkst was easy to work with, especially when it came to developing new events.
He took the position very seriously,” Kriebel said of Onkst.
“He was always very concerned about how to better Corbin.”
Kriebel said Onkst was firmly behind the idea that tourism’s role was to bring more people to Corbin.
“That is how we were able to continue some of the brick-and-mortar projects,” Kriebel said. “He understood that we needed to create a destination to draw people to Corbin.”
Onkst began working at his family’s business, the old Piggly Wiggly grocery store on South Main Street. He later owned and operated his his business, “Freshmart Food Mart” on Master Street.
Onkst is survived by a daughter, Katherine Elizabeth Onkst, a brother, Michael Onkst, and two aunts, Joyce Anderson and Sarah Hobbs.
“He loved his family. His daughter was the world to him,” Martin said.
“He was a good man.”