At age 13 months, Jim Ware attended his first Alexandria Fair & Horse Show in a horse and buggy.
When the fair celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2006, Mr. Ware – the grand marshal – led its sesquicentennial parade in a ’48 Ford convertible.
“They didn’t have night fairs back in (the early days) because they didn’t have electricity,” Mr. Ware recalled in a 2006 interview. “You’d park your horse and buggy at the fairgrounds all day and leave when it got dark.”
For 90 consecutive years, Mr. Ware never missed a fair. Until this year, the Cold Spring native could be found in his usual box seat at the horse show, greeting a steady flow of old friends.
“Jim was always at the fair to do whatever needed to be done,” long-time fair board member Sally McNichols said of the honorary fair board member. “He was the epitome of a nice man.”
Mr. Ware, an avid Cincinnati Reds and University of Kentucky Wildcats fan, died Tuesday at his home. He was 92.
“He loved his family, his animals and his farm,” said his daughter, Karen Ware, of Cold Spring. “One of his greatest joys this year was getting to see the latest foal on the farm.”
A life-long Cold Spring resident, Mr. Ware attended a two-room schoolhouse across Murnan Road from the family farm. Four years ago, the 1936 Campbell County High School graduate was honored as the school district’s oldest living alumnus.
He also was a Kentucky Colonel and past board member of the Campbell County Farm Bureau and Campbell County Southern State Cooperative.
But it was the Alexandria Fair & Horse Show that served as the focal point of Mr. Ware’s life.
For at least five generations, starting with Mr. Ware’s grandfather, the retired dairy farmer and his immediate family were involved in the Alexandria Fair & Horse Show as exhibitors, judges, fair board members or associates.
Mr. Ware’s daughter, Karen, was involved with the fair for decades, and her sister, Kim Henley, has competed in the horse show off and on since 1970, a trend Kim’s daughter, Jamie Henley, continued in recent years. His late wife, Charlotte, made Kim’s costumes for the fair, and Mr. Ware recruited his current wife, Colleen, to serve as an associate fair board member and work in the floral hall.
“He lived vicariously through our involvement with the fair,” Karen Ware said.
Besides his wife and daughters, who all live in Cold Spring, Mr. Ware is survived by his sister, Carol Smiley of Melbourne; stepchildren, Lynn Weinel of Alexandria, and Rob Lohstroh of Southgate; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be 6-7 p.m. Thursday, followed by Mass of Christian Burial at St. Joseph Church in Cold Spring, where Mr. Ware was a long-time member. Burial will be in St. Joseph Cemetery in Cold Spring. Memorials are suggested to the Hospice of the Bluegrass, 7388 Turfway Road, Florence, KY 41042, or charity of choice. Muehlenkamp-Erschell Funeral Home, Fort Thomas, is in charge of arrangements.