William “Cotton” McKemy Jr.

William Lewis “Cotton” McKemy Jr. passed away on Jan. 17, 2020.

He was preceded in death by his parents, William Lewis McKemy Sr. and Edna Armantrout; his sister, Juanita McKemy; half-brother William McKemy; son Mike McKemy; daughter Pamela McKemy-Brooks; and beloved wife, Lydia McKemy.

He is survived by his children, June and Glenn McKemy of Hawaii; daughter Lybill Floralei McKemy of Lexington; grandson Joshua McKemy of Hawaii; and great granddaughter Jessica McKemy.

He was born in 1925 near Kerrs Creek in a farm house with “no electricity or running water, a short walk from the top of the mountain.” As a child he remembers riding to school on a horse with his sister and .410 shotgun for protection and to hunt on the way home. He recalls often swapping a fresh egg for bubblegum at the local store and sticking it to the bottom of the schoolhouse steps until class was out.

By age 11, he paid for his own shoes, by 14 he was learning how to operate every type of heavy machine he could get his hands on. He served his country in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. When it was time to retire from the Army, he showed up the next day in civilian clothes. Seeing that nobody was at his desk, he sat down and did his job for many more years.

Cotton was a stock car racer, motorcyclist, camper, fisherman, hunter, real estate broker, mechanic shop owner, paver, and heavy equipment operator. He was a proud father, three war veteran, and 32nd degree Mason.

He credits his late wife Lydia for saving him and for his four decades of sobriety. He thanks his best friend and right hand man David Hartless for all their work together when the shop was running and is grateful for the faithful help, companionship, and “strong as an ox” strength of his friend Milton Riley in his later years.

William McKemy had a firm handshake and sound mind until the end. He passed away with his shoes on, sitting on his front porch in the sunshine. N-G

The News-Gazette

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