Former Kentucky Governor Dead at 78

By Amy Bingham | 

Ned Breathitt never recovered after collapsing during a speech last Friday night in Lexington. The death of the Hopkinsville native is attributed to an irregular heart rhythm.

Breathitt was only 38 years old in 1963 when he barely defeated Louie Nunn to become Kentucky's 47th governor. The following year he helped secure unprecedented legislation on civil rights. During his term, Breathitt also took on big coal interests and secured environmental legislation.

He was defeated by Nunn in 1967 and passed on an open U.S. Senate seat. Breathitt went on to serve as the Southern Railway System's general counsel in Washington. He also served on the boards of three state universities...including his alma mater, U.K., where he was chairman for most of the 1990's. His body will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort Friday until four.

A service will be held at 11 a.m. eastern. Another service will be held Saturday at noon central time at First United Methodist Church in Hopkinsville, followed by burial at Riverside Cemetery. Ned Breathitt was born in Hopkinsville, he was 78 years old.