BROWNSVILLE, Ky. (WBKO) -- Every town has one. A favorite eatery where the Good Old Boys congregate to solve the world's problems. In Brownsville, it's the Dairy Queen, where we found some men who've been fast friends for over 60 years. And one of them is the subject of this special report.
Buddy Stewart has known Jerry Patton since Jerry was 10 years old and Buddy was 15. Jerry rode a bike and Buddy drove a car.
'I'd pass him on the road," said Buddy, "and he'd have one britches' leg rolled up to his knees. He didn't have a chain guard on his bicycle. Keep from eatin' his britches leg up."
They didn't have much money, so Buddy would sneak him into the drive-in theater "I have put him in the back seat and a couple of other guys," said Buddy, "and throw a quilt over them. And I had a friend that sold the tickets at the drive-in.... I'd pay her 45 cents and go in. And we'd go to the far side and let them out."
Not the kind of start you'd think of for a man who's been a Baptist preacher for 43 years But then Jerry Patton is not an ordinary man.
To make some money when he was 15 years old, Jerry dug graves for a local funeral home. The next year, he drove the ambulance for the business. Nine years after that, he bought that funeral home, and he's owned it ever since.
He also ran an ambulance service, and served two terms as the county coroner. He was also a founding member of the Edmonson County Industrial Authority, along with then County Judge-Executive N.E. Reed, learning how to attract businesses to the area.
"We were out days and nights," said Reed. "We tried to attend different seminars. We traveled to different places across the state."
"Y'know," added Jerry Patton, "I can remember when, if we had to write a letter, one of us would have to buy the stamp because they didn't have the money to buy the stamp with." There are now three businesses in the industrial park, employing 130 people, and they're working on more.
Jerry's been very successful, but he hasn't let it go to his head. "A lot of money he got from donations at church," said Jerry's friend Johnny Vincent, "he'd turn around and he'd give it back to some individual or some organization that really needed it. He's a very unselfish man."
And as with most close relationships, teasing goes a long way. "No I don't particularly care for Scotty Woodcock," said Buddy Stewart, "ha, ha, ha."
"When you thought you was dyin' you liked me," countered Woodcock. " Ha, ha, ha."
But they all agree on one thing. Jerry can't play golf.
Johnny: "He's a better undertaker."
Jerry: "By far."
Johnny: "And a much better preacher. But nobody has any more fun about it than he does."
Jerry: "I play a lot better with my mouth than I do with my clubs."
But they still think Jerry's a pretty good guy.
"I've been told all my life if you live as long as I have," Scott Woodcock said. "and I'm 85 years old, that when you get ready to die you can count your friends on one hand. Jerry's one of my friends."
"And God bless his heart," said Johnny Vincent, "I love him."
"And what he has meant to Edmonson County," added N.E. Reed, "is invaluable."