Thomas Spain Jr.

MADISONVILLE —Justice Thomas Butler Spain, Jr., 85, died on December 7, 2013, at the Western Kentucky Veterans Center, Hanson, Ky.

He was born on November 5, 1928, in Madisonville, Kentucky. His parents were Louise Pinkard Ross and Thomas Butler Spain, Senior. 

He attended Madisonville Public Schools, Western Kentucky University and was graduated from University of Kentucky College of Law, June 1951, with Juris Doctorate Degree.

He served in the United States Army as an enlisted man and as a First Lieutenant, Judge Advocate General’s Corps in Korea, 1952. He continued on active duty as Judge Advocate until May 1955, retiring a Major, J.A.G.C., U.S. Army Reserve.

In June of 1955 he joined the law firm of Gordon and Gordon, and Mills in Madisonville. He continued in general practice with this firm and with Mills, Spain, Mitchell and Turner until June 1973.

On June 29, 1973, Governor Wendell Ford appointed Spain as Circuit Judge of Hopkins and Caldwell Counties, a position he held for 17 ½ years. In November 1990 he was elected Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court from the First Appellate District. He retired in 1994 and became “of counsel” in the law firm of Whitfield and Cox.

From 1982-1986, Spain served as President of the Kentucky Association of Circuit Judges and Chief Regional Judge, Purchase Region of Judicial Circuits. He was the recipient of the Henry V. Pennington Outstanding Trial Judge Award presented by the Kentucky Academy of Trial Attorneys in 1983. In 1985 he was presented Kentucky Bar Association’s Outstanding Judge award.

He was a lifetime member of the First Presbyterian Church in Madisonville, where he served as an Elder, choir member and teacher of Adult Couples Sunday School Class. He was also a member of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of Western Kentucky, Presbyterian Church.

He served as Past President of the Audubon Council, Boy Scouts of America and was recipient of the Silver Beaver and Distinguished Citizens Awards. He was Past President of Kiwanis Club of Madisonville. In 1985, Judge Spain was the recipient of the Lions Club Man of the Year Award.

In 1954 he married the former Frances M. Jones of Lexington, Ky. They have 2 sons, Edward Butler Spain (Carolyn Etheridge) of Atlanta, Ga. and David Ross Spain (Janice Newsam) of Houston, Texas. They have 4 grandchildren, Ross Butler Spain, Derek Carlton Spain, Jennifer Elizabeth Spain and Thomas Edward Spain.

Funeral Services will be 11 a.m. Wednesday, December 11, 2013, at Barnett-Strother Funeral Home with Rev. Lon Lorton officiating. Burial will follow in Odd Fellows Cemetery.

Visitation will be from 3-6 p.m. Tuesday and after 10 a.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.

In lieu of flowers, family requests donations to First Presbyterian Church and Boy Scouts of America.

Online condolences may be made to the family at

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