The (Louisville) Courier-Journal on the death of Laurel True:
Kentucky lost a powerful advocate for public health and its most vulnerable citizens when Laurel True died Saturday at his home in Shelby County. He was 80.
For the past five decades, Mr. True worked tirelessly to improve the health and welfare of Kentuckians, dating back to his early years in state government where, under former Gov. Wendell Ford, he became the first secretary of the newly created Cabinet for Human Resources in 1973.
He held a number of key state government positions in health, education and welfare and was a pioneer in early efforts to better coordinate and expand health services throughout all of Kentucky.
Mr. True helped introduce the federal-state Medicaid program in Kentucky and his passions during his long career included better care for the aged, disabled and persons with mental illness. Though in retirement he held a lower public profile, his endless advocacy and hours of volunteer work were well-known in Frankfort and the advocacy community.
“He was a wonderful champion all of his life,” said Sheila Schuster, a longtime mental health advocate in Kentucky. Despite widespread recognition and awards, she said Mr. True remained humble about his efforts. “He was never boastful or self-serving.”
Harry Rothgerber, who served with Mr. True on the board of Seven Counties Services, the Louisville-based regional mental health agency, described him as a “gentleman and a gentle man.”
Quiet and capable, Mr. True offered the mental health board expert advice on the most effective ways to get results when dealing with government, Mr. Rothgerber said.
“He knew how the wheels turned in Frankfort,” he said. “He was an exceptional adviser and mentor.”
Jefferson District Judge David Holton, chairman of the Seven Counties board, said Mr. True brought an infectious energy to his work in mental health at Seven Counties.
“He was the heart of the board,” he said. “He’s going to be greatly missed.”
Mr. True, a Kentucky native, held a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Michigan.
He also was an active member and advocate with AARP of Kentucky and had served on the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence as well as a number of other boards and commissions.
He was a member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Frankfort.
Laurel True leaves a valuable legacy of public service that made Kentucky better.