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'She Was Really Special.' Coronavirus Claims Kentucky Education Trailblazer

Office of the Governor

She wore many hats. Known as the "first lady" of KET, an education advocate, dedicated public servant, and Women's Network organizer, to name a few titles, Lillian Press passed away Sunday from complications due to COVID-19.

"Every person we lose is just as important, but this was a friend of mine," Gov. Andy Beshear said during his daily coronavirus briefing at the Capitol.

The governor fought back tears Tuesday announcing the passing of the founder of the Governor's Scholars Program, an initiative Beshear credited with altering the course of his life.

"She was healthy, she was sharp, and she was really special," the governor noted. "She had more years that should have been able to give to us."

Press's son, Lowell, told the Lexington Herald-Leader his mother had been quarantined for more than a month in her room at an assisted living facility in Washington state.

Lillian Press was married to the late public broadcasting pioneer O. Leonard Press, who also served as general manager of WBKY — the first incarnation of WUKY.

She was 95.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.