A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Bevin suspends awarding of Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonel commissions to ‘review criteria’

Governor Matt Bevin has suspended indefinitely the awarding of Kentucky’s highest honor, the commission of Kentucky Colonel until he “reviews” the criteria for awarding them.

One source told the NKyTribune that she had received word from the LRC that her pending nominations for Kentucky Colonel awards had be “put on hold until further notice.”

Only a governor can issue the awards, and only another Kentucky Colonel can recommend an individual. Links to nominate a recipient are on the Kentucky Colonels’ website.

About 85,000 individuals has received the distinction.


The governor’s spokesperson Jessica Ditto later said that Bevin is now issuing any Colonels’ distinctions for the time being and that “when we do we want to ensure we are honoring the mission of the order.”

The commission of Kentucky Colonel is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Governor of Kentucky. It is recognition of an individual’s noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to our community, state and nation.

The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels is a voluntary philanthropic organization that was established in 1813. It has become a mostly ceremonial designation — and has been presented to celebrities and athletes, presidents and businesspeople around the county.

Ford Colonel

A sitting Kentucky governor noted in a letter to the Honorable Order that he commissioned individuals as Kentucky Colonels “as a Governor’s way of recognizing individuals for their service and accomplishments on behalf of others.”

If you’re a commissioned Colonel, you are a Kentucky Colonel for life. The Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels asks designees for tax-deductable contributions to the Good Works Program. It gives away about $1.5 million a year, mostly to scholarships and grants.

Says the Order’s website: Kentucky Colonels are unwavering in devotion to faith, family, commonwealth and country. Passionate about being compassionate. Proud leaders who are gentle but strong in will and commitment. The generosity of our members enables the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels – as a recognized 501 (c) (3) tax exempt non-profit organization – to reach out and care for our children, support those in need and preserve our rich heritage.

Related Posts


  1. Douglas Combs says:

    Is there a list of all my colonels ?

  2. Wanda Hill says:

    Will Beshear reinstate the nomination process. I have a worthy nominee.

  3. Grizzly Gem says:

    I received this “honor” several decades ago, and kept in touch for some years, but then when I moved I lost touch and so when I tried to get back on the mailing list, the response was downright nasty. A woman said I hadn’t made any contributions in recent years so to hell with me. OK. No donations henceforth. Plenty of other good causes. And I do get to keep the certificate. So, stupid on their part.

    • Sherry Crose says:

      Grizzly Gem, your post just came to my attention and I apologize for the response you received from one of the Colonel’s team members. That certainly is not how to handle your call.

      When Colonels move, we often loose track of them, and are very appreciative when they call us to re-engage with the organization. We dropped the ball with you and for that, I am sorry.

      I am thankful that you have continued to give to those good organization that support those in need That is important, especially during this current crisis we are in.

      If you should ever want to get involved with the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels again, please reach out to me. Sherry Crose, Executive Director

  4. Dumisani Sondlo says:

    I too am a recipient of this honor. It came as a huge surprise while I was hosted by the USTTI in October 2000. And as a South African, I’ve often wondered what charitable responsibilities accompany it.

  5. Jefferson Brown says:

    My father, Bernard W. Brown was made a Kentucky Colonel, probably in the 1960s or 1970s. I called once 5 or 6 years ago to find out what accomplishments of his precipitated the nomination, and was told they don’t give that out. Since the Member who nominated him & my Dad were both WWII vets, I expect it was whatever got him a Bronze Star in the Italian Campaign. Both deceased, might never know. Thank you.

  6. James D Lilly, Jr says:

    Between the 1960’s and 1990’s my sister, Nancy Lee Lilly nominated me for the Kentucky Colonel honor. I do not have the certificate, and my mind is not clear as to whether or not I was actually awarded the honor. Is there any way I can find out? I am almost 86 years of age and trying to get my house in order for my final journey. Nancy was very active in the Republican Party both state and nationally. Se reached her final destination in 2007.

    Thank you for any help you can provide.

    James D. Lilly, Jr.

Leave a Comment