Foster Ockerman

Friday 17th of September 1920 - Wednesday 21st of April 2021

Foster Ockerman



May 3, 2021 (4:00 pm - 6:00 pm)

Milward - Broadway


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Foster Ockerman died April 21, 2021, at his home in Lexington, Kentucky, after a long life and a brief illness. His wife of sixty-nine years, Joyce Harris Ockerman, predeceased him.  He is survived by his sons, Foster Ockerman, Jr. (Martina), Lexington, and Jefferson Harris Ockerman, Nashville, Tenn., and his daughter Ann Ockerman Baughn (Philip), Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., as well as grandchildren Hannah Ockerman Helsby (Michael), Katrina Chace Ockerman, both of Lexington, Ky., Dr. Elizabeth Ockerman Hubbard (Matthew), Washington, D.C., and John Foster Ockerman (Kate), Richmond, Va. Also surviving are greatgrandchildren Foster William Ockerman and Elizabeth Wren Ockerman, Richmond, Va., and Michael Foster Helsby and Livy Ruth Helsby, Lexington, Ky.


            He was born September, 17, 1920, in the small community of Green’s Chapel, Nelson Co., Ky., one of three children of Rev. R.F. Ockerman, a Methodist minister, and Anna Clara Ockerman.  His parents, brother and sister all predeceased him. He graduated from Middlesboro High School, attended Lincoln Memorial University, then transferred to and graduated from the University of Kentucky and the University of Kentucky College of Law.


            Volunteering for the U. S. Navy in 1942, he was commissioned a lieutenant, and served as skipper on several Motor Torpedo Boats (PT Boats) in the Ellice and Solomon Islands in the Pacific on his first tour of duty.  There he met and served with future president John F. Kennedy; however, unlike Kennedy, none of his boats were sunk.  Upon returning to the United States he served as an instructor at the Motor Torpedo Boat Training Center in Millville, RI, before being transferred to the Philippines, serving there as the Executive Officer of PT Squadron Twelve to the end of the war. When his squadron was decommissioned, he was assigned to the USS Orestes, AGP 10, a PT boat tender, on which he served as Executive Officer and then Captain until the ship returned to Oakland, CA, where it was decommissioned. Ockerman was honorably discharged and returned to Kentucky.


            He was admitted to the Kentucky Bar in 1942, under a special rule then existing which permitted admission prior to graduation, having been sworn in while on leave. Upon return to civilian life he completed law school and received his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in early 1947.  He joined the law firm of Yancey and Martin, which became Yancey, Martin and Ockerman, and later Martin, Ockerman and Brabant.  He was appointed Corporate Counsel for the City of Lexington in 1950, holding that position until 1959.  He served in the Kentucky House of Representatives for three terms, 1954, 1956, and 1958, and was voted the “most valuable member of the Legislature from a public standpoint” by the members of the press covering the 1954 session of the General Assembly.


            Gov. Bert T. Combs appointed Ockerman as Commissioner of Motor Transportation in 1959, serving three years until resigning to manage the successful primary and general election campaigns of Gov. Edward T. Breathitt, who appointed him as his Executive Secretary, and liaison with the Legislature in 1966.  He was awarded the Governor’s Distinguished Service Award that year.


            A member of the Fayette County, Kentucky, and American Bar Associations and the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, Ockerman served as president of the Fayette County Bar Association in 1954, receiving the Citizen Lawyer Award of that Bar Association in 1997, and, in 2008, the Henry T. Duncan Award in recognition of his distinguished personal and professional conduct.  In 2016, Ockerman was honored with the first Legacy Award bestowed by the UK College of Law.


            He served on many public and civic boards, including: member and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Kentucky United Methodist Church; Chair of the Kentucky Educational Savings Trust; twenty-four years as Vice Chair and Chair of the Lexington-Fayette Airport Board; member of the board and President of the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce; director of the Lexington Federal Savings Bank; Chair of the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance; Vice Chair and Chair of the Bluegrass Automobile (AAA) Club; trustee of the Good Samaritan Hospital for thirty-three years and a founding member of the Good Samaritan Foundation.  In 1982, the Kentucky Hospital Association recognized him for noteworthy service.


            He also served on the Lexington United Board and the Lexington Economic Development Commission, and was recognized in 1982 by the Louisville Courier Journal as the most prominent and influential non-affiliated lawyer in Lexington as its premier zoning expert.  He was President of the Young Democratic Club of Kentucky (1956); Chair of the State Democratic Central Executive Committee (1964-1966); a Founding Fellow of the Fayette County Bar Association; President of the Lexington Country Club; and Chair of the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees from 1989 to 1993.  In 2005 he was inducted into the Blue Grass Business Hall of Fame.


            He was honored on his 100th birthday with a Proclamation from Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton.


            He belonged to the Keeneland Association, the Lexington Country Club, and the Lexington Club, and was a life member of the University of Kentucky Alumni Association and the University of Kentucky Fellows.


            An avid tennis player until the age of ninety-eight, he also enjoyed traveling extensively, in particular crossing the Atlantic Ocean eighteen times with his wife on the Wind Star and Star Clipper motor sailing ships.  The first Iran War frustrated his attempt to complete a circumnavigation of the globe via the Suez Canal back to the Philippines.


            In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to the Lexington History Museum, P.O. Box 748, Lexington 40588, or Bluegrass Care Navigators. 

           Visitation for Mr. Ockerman will be on Monday, May 3rd from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm at Milward – Broadway located at 159 N. Broadway. A private inurnment will be held in Lexington Cemetery. To share a remembrance of Mr. Ockerman or offer condolences to his family, please visit

Guest Book

Jack Foster


Mr Ockerman lived an extraordinary life. He will be remembered by many who knew him personally. I give my thoughts and prayers to his family and friends who surely will miss him.

1 week ago

Martha Murray


I was privileged to work for Mr. Ockerman for several years. He was always fair and a man of great integrity. I am sure he has passed into peace.

1 week ago

Kathy and John Sartini


We are so sorry to hear of Foster’s passing. He had a remarkable life and we so enjoyed being their neighbors on Richmond Rd. We cherish many fond memories.

2 weeks ago



So sorry to hear of Foster's passing. He was always a gentleman and a joy to talk with. Prayers for the family and may your memories of Foster bring you peace and comfort.

2 weeks ago

Tom D. Isaac


I was saddened to learn today of the passing of Foster. He and I first met in 1963, when he was chosen by Edward T. (Ned) Breathitt, to act as his State Campaign Manager, in the Governor's race of that year. I was a part of Gov. Breathitt's original Campaign staff and worked with Foster. He led a brilliant campaign, through both the Primary and Fall races, ending in victory. Foster was a true leader. He could be a heavy task master at times, but he never lost sight of his mission. Foster Ockerman was a true Patriot and great Kentuckian. I am honored to have known and worked with him. I send my sincerest condolences to his family. Tom D. Isaac

2 weeks ago

Pattie & Joe Blackburn


Lifting the family up in our thoughts and prayers during this time of loss <3

2 weeks ago