The man who succeeded Nicholas Z. “Nick” Kafoglis in the Kentucky House of Representatives said Monday that Kafoglis was in public service “for the right reasons.”
Jody Richards, who retired in December after 43 years in the House, talked about his friendship and professional relationship with Kafoglis, a longtime Bowling Green physician who died Saturday in Connecticut at age 89.
“I thought he was one of the finest people I’ve ever known,” Richards said about his fellow Democrat. “He was an outstanding legislator, the kind of person you’d like representing you.”
Kafoglis represented parts of Warren and other southcentral Kentucky counties in the state House and Senate, serving in the House from 1972 through 1976 and in the Senate from 1987 through 1999.
He earned the William H. Natcher Award for Distinguished Government Service in 1995 and the Outstanding State Senator honor in 1996, but Kafoglis was no professional politician.
Raised in Lexington as the son of Greek immigrants, Kafoglis came to Bowling Green in 1959 and spent the next 36 years practicing medicine.
“The thing I remember most is how much my parents loved Bowling Green,” said Chris Kafoglis, Nick’s son and one of four children who survive him. “He loved serving the community as a doctor, and he felt he could make a difference as a public official.”
He did, according to Richards. The former Kentucky House speaker said Kafoglis was instrumental in legislation dealing with fighting drug abuse and reforming public education.
“He was very interested in public education,” Richards said. “We worked closely together on those issues. I remember he was very supportive of KERA (the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act).”
Chris Kafoglis said his father, although a Democrat with liberal leanings, worked well with members of both political parties. He never lost an election, opting to step away from the House in 1976 so he could concentrate on family concerns and retiring from the Senate at age 69.
Richards said Kafoglis changed the way political campaigns were run.
“He went door to door before anybody else did that,” Richards said. “He never raised a lot of money. He sort of ran his campaigns on a shoestring.”
Chris Kafoglis said his father, a Yale University graduate and U.S. Air Force veteran, believed strongly in the importance of public service.
“One of his core principles was serving your fellow citizens,” Chris Kafoglis said.
“He believed that any time you could make the world a better place, you did so.”
Nick Kafoglis was preceded in death by his wife, Patricia Kafoglis, who died in 2016. A public memorial service for Nick Kafoglis is scheduled for 2 p.m. March 16 at First Christian Church at 1106 State St. in Bowling Green.