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Carolina Village resident becomes 'Kentucky Colonel'

Nancy Vance Cooper received her Kentucky Colonel medal from Pete Denton, long-time friend and nominator, in a small ceremony at Carolina Village on Oct. 14. Nancy Vance Cooper received her Kentucky Colonel medal from Pete Denton, long-time friend and nominator, in a small ceremony at Carolina Village on Oct. 14.

Nancy Vance Cooper, a Carolina Village resident, has received the highest civilian honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. She is now a Kentucky Colonel.

A Kentucky Colonel Commission certificate is awarded in the name of the Commonwealth by the Governor to individuals with for noteworthy accomplishments, contributions to society, remarkable deeds, or outstanding service to community, state, or nation. The tradition goes back to 1795.

Pete Denton, Cooper’s nominator and decades-long friend, was present at Carolina Village on Thursday to present Cooper with the honor.

“I do not yet have your commission in hand but have notice that the Governor and Secretary of State have signed and it is in route to me to be delivered to you,” Denton said. “Such a recognition of distinction is a happy event. You earned the accolades. The August Occasion is yours.”

Denton went on to explain why Cooper was nominated.

“You have all the characteristics of a Kentucky Colonel — good standing in church, community, and circle of influence, high character, sound ethics, intellect, education and social skills, noteworthy accomplishments, kind and generous to others, and ability to find good while forgiving or understanding distractions,” he said.

Responded Cooper, “I am speechless. Bewildered is a good word. I certainly feel unworthy since I have virtually no contact with the Bluegrass state, don't know much about fine horses or strong drink or any of those other images that come to mind.”

Cooper does have family roots in Kentucky, though almost long forgotten. Her maternal grandfather was from Kentucky, but then moved to South Carolina and Atlanta.

Denton added, “Those characteristics are displayed by Kentucky Colonels not just in the Commonwealth but in all states and across the Free World.”

Many famous and noteworthy people have received commissions and been recognized as Kentucky colonels, including Muhammad Ali, George Clooney, Walt Disney, J. Edgar Hoover, Pope John Paull II, John Lennon, Loretta Lynn, and, of course, Colonel Harlan Sanders.