Vincent Fanelli unique view on life
will be honored at
History Center Gala in September
Helen E. McKinney
LA GRANGE, Ky. At a young age, Vincent Fanelli
knew he had to be good at something in life but didnt know what
that was until he stepped into the cockpit of an airplane. He ultimately
served his country for 17 1/2 years from a plane, and has lived a long,
eventful life serving others and preserving history.
After graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1940 with a major
in business administration, Fanelli joined the U.S. Army Air Corps.
His fraternity brothers tried to encourage Fanelli to enlist before
graduating, but he wouldnt do it, determined to get the degree
he had spent four years earning. He knew the United States would soon
be entering World War II, and he got his chance to serve in the Air
Force during the war.
I enjoyed flying. I rode in an airplane in Louisville and I liked
it, said Fanelli, 91. He went to Randolph Field and then completed
advanced training at Kelly Field.
While in service, Fanelli literally got to see the world. He flew to
Canada, Trinidad, Brazil, Cuba, England, Scotland, Iceland, Greenland,
North Africa, Algeria, Egypt, Sicily and Italy, just to name a few places.
I covered a lot of territory, transporting goods and services,
Fanelli served both active and reserve duty. He was commissioned in
the reserve because at that time, once an individual graduated from
flight school they were commissioned, he said. I went into it
as a career, but things changed.
Reflecting back over his wartime experiences makes Fanelli realize historys
importance to the current generation. If we dont watch it,
well be reliving it, he said. He believes history is something
you cant deny; we live through it for a reason. Fanelli has lived
through decades of change and fought hard to preserve what means the
most to him.
For his efforts, Fanelli will be receiving the 2009 J. Chilton Barnett
Champion of Oldham County History Award on Friday, Sept.
25. Presentation of the award will be made during The Golden Anniversary
Celebration: 50 Years of Heritage, this years Annual Gala for
the Oldham County Historical Society.
Celebration: 50 Years of Heritage
Friday, Sept. 25 at the Oldham County Historical Society,
106 N. Second Ave., La Grange, Ky.
Featuring: Reception with an open bar; presentation
of the J. Chilton Barnett Champion of History Award
to Vincent Fanelli; catered sit-down dinner; music by John Manning
& The Thrillers; silent auction; live auction with Rick Wardlow,
Tickets: $125 per person.
2009 Honorary Co-Chairs: Carla Jones and Lee Clore
Information or to reserve tickets: (502) 222-0826
The recipient is chosen by nominations through the
Annual Gala Committee who then present it to the Board of Directors,
said Nancy Theiss, executive director for the Oldham County History
Center in La Grange. The recipient may be a current or former resident
of the county, living or deceased, male or female, an individual or
group of individuals.
The recipient must demonstrate or have demonstrated a sincere
interest in Oldham County history and a desire and effort to preserve
the history for future generations, said Theiss. Vince was
chosen because of his interest in community preservation.
Fanelli has donated several train collections to the Historical Society,
including the Ott Family Train Collection, as well as horse carriages
that were once used in Oldham County. He has also sold his Crestwood
property to the city of Crestwood to some day be turned into a park.
"Champions of Oldham County
History" Past Winners
2007: Joseph and Rose Ethel Hall
2006: Roy Kimberly "Kim" Snell (posthumously)
2005: Bill and Dorothy Lammlein
2004: Carl Klingenfus (posthumously)
2003: Theodore Klein (posthumously)
2002: Milton Carl Stoess
This property is known as The Maples, and had been in
his wifes family since 1908. He has a life-time interest in the
23 1/2 acres that he sold in 2005. Fanelli and his late wife, Mary Louise,
had sought for a way to keep the land from being developed so that others
could enjoy it.
The City owns it but he retains all the rights, said Crestwood
Mayor Dennis Deibel of the property that will become The Maples Memorial
Park. Deibel has known Fanelli for nearly 50 years.
Amenities to the park will include a walking trail around the perimeter,
pavilions and using the existing house as a Town Hall or meeting room
space. There is a lot of potential to it, said Deibel.
Hes a super guy and has always been community minded,
Deibel added. Fanelli is dedicated to preserving the property for all
future Crestwood citizens.
Fanelli, whose father was from Naples, was born in Anchorage in an apartment
above what was at the time the family business, Fanelli Grocery. They
later moved to Coxs Quarry (or Coxs Lake), which they developed
into a popular swim club.
Fanelli married Mary Louise Ott in 1947 and they had four children.
After the war was over he returned to his familys business at
Coxs Quarry for two years until he left for a time to run his
own farm, Kentucky Acres, in Crestwood. In 1960 the Fanellis moved to
by Helen McKinney
be honored Sept. 25
by the Oldham County
Historical Society during
the "Gala" in La Grange.
The couple raised Polled Herefords, and Fanelli was also
part owner of a building supply company known as Waterbury Brothers
and ran a hardware business in Middletown as well as returning to work
weekends at Coxs Quarry.
The family lived for a while in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. They liked to
travel whenever possible, and Fanelli still enjoys golf and good 1940s
music. He is a member of the Crestwood United Methodist Church.
Fanelli believes in giving back to his community through service, contributions
and donations. Its important. If you take something from
them, you own someone, he said.
He has been a supporter of the Lions Club since March 1949. Its
a good organization, he said of the club whose main goal is the
prevention of blindness.
Hes been involved in many projects over the years while a member
of the Lions Club, including the installation of a sidewalk from Crestwood
to Pewee Valley and painting windows on local homes. If you help
an organization, youre helping people, he said.
Fanelli has been a past president, served on the Board of Directors,
and held the position of district governor for the Lions Club. He also
helped with the promotion of the Orchard Grass Festival in Crestwood
in the 1950s and has been honored with a Melvin Jones Fellowship.
Working with the Lions Club was important to me, said Fanelli.
The Orchard Grass Festival was a great thing and I enjoyed working
As if that doesnt keep Fanelli busy enough in his spare time,
he also belongs to the Masons, Scottish Rite and the Shriners. Fellow
Mason Gene Crady of Crestwood has known Fanelli ever since he was a
child. His father and Fanelli were friends and both families lived in
Anchorage before moving to Crestwood.
He is a wonderful contributor to the Masonic organization, said Crady,
as well as the Shriners and Kosair Hospitals. Fanelli has been a Mason
for 70 years.
He is a phenomenal person and a wonderful Christian, said
Crady, who was the 2008 recipient of the Champion of History Award.
Fanelli has spent a lifetime serving others. He set up an endowment
a few years ago in his wifes name for Lindsey Wilson College and
continues to be involved in the community he calls home.
Back to September 2009