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Local leader Mobley dies at 84

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Former state representative, longtime CU professor passes after long illness

By Zac Oakes

 

Russ Mobley, former 51st District State Representative and longtime professor at Campbellsville University, passed away Friday following an illness. 

Mobley served in the Kentucky House of Representatives for the 51st District, serving Taylor and Adair counties. He served in the state legislature from 2000-2009, winning election as a Republican after former representative Ricky Lee Cox opted not to seek re-election. 

Mobley served four two-year terms in the Kentucky House where he advocated for the widening of KY 210 and KY 55, an $18.7 million project announced by then Gov. Ernie Fletcher. Mobley was a strong voice for the project, believing it would open the area for new economic development and tourism opportunities. He served on the House Labor and Industry, Postsecondary Education, Transportation, and Education committees during his time in office.

Mobley was also in the legislature when funding was approved to build a new judicial center in Taylor County in 2006. 

During his tenure in Frankfort, Mobley is remembered as a conservative voice that was respected on both sides of the political aisle. Mobley was a staunch pro-life advocate in the Kentucky House chamber and supported legislation to make English the official language of Kentucky.

Rep. John “Bam” Carney, who ran for the seat after Mobley opted not to seek reelection for a fifth term, said Mobley was a great man and a great asset to Campbellsville University and the community as a whole. 

“My prayers go out to his lovely wife Carole, his children, grandchildren and family,” Carney wrote on his Facebook page. “Mr. Mobley was an outstanding man who served our community with great distinction. He was a great asset to Campbellsville University and all who knew him. He was a true gentleman.” 

Upon his retirement from the legislature, lawmakers approved a resolution to honor Mobley for his years of service, stating that he “served with quiet dignity” and leaves a legacy as “a trusted and revered public servant.” 

While Mobley was known for being a state representative, he may be even more remembered for his time as an associate professor of theatre arts at Campbellsville University. Mobley taught at CU for more than 30 years, retiring in 2005. 

During his time there, he directed more than 100 theater performances according to a release from Campbellsville University. 

The university honored Mobley by naming the campus theater after him in 2011 and awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2015. 

Mobley’s impact at CU extended beyond theater though. Many knew him as the “Voice of the Tigers,” as a radio broadcaster for Campbellsville University athletics, as well as local high school football and basketball.

"He positively impacted the lives of thousands of students at Campbellsville University during his tenure as a professor, and he involved numerous members of the community in theater productions,” Campbellsville University President Dr. Michael Carter said when awarding the honorary doctorate to Mobley. “Many would drive from across the commonwealth to be part of one of his productions and to watch his productions… Professor Mobley used the theater arts to teach core values in Christian higher education and his influence extends to thousands of individuals."

State Sen. Max Wise said he always admired Mobley growing up while frequently spending time on the CU campus. 

“As a child who basically grew up on the Campbellsville College/University campus, there was no kinder man than Mr. Russ Mobley,” Wise wrote. “I always loved talking with him about sports, politics and movies. From his presence directing in the college theater, to performing as Mark Twain for elementary classes, teaching theater arts, and serving this area with integrity as a Kentucky State Representative, Mr. Mobley was simply a fine family man who was a mentor to so many.” 

Mobley’s political experience wasn’t solely limited to work in Frankfort. He served as the deputy county judge-executive in Taylor County in the late 1980s. He also ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives for Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District in 1968. 

Additionally, he worked in state government during the Louie Nunn administration as Deputy Commissioner of Personnel and Deputy Commissioner of Parks. 

Locally, he was also well known as an active member of Campbellsville Baptist Church and serving in roles such as Minister of Music at Palestine Baptist Church and Lowell Avenue Baptist Church. He was also a member of Rotary International and was a United States Air Force veteran, serving his country honorably from 1951-1955.

Mobley’s full obituary can be found in this issue on page A3.