A quiet man who had a profound impact on the growth of Somerset and Pulaski County has died.
Blaine S. Correll, eldest and leader of the Correll family, passed away Thursday. He was 97.
Mr. Correll in the 1960s was co-founder with brother Ward and father Charlie of Tradewind Shopping Center, and later Blaine built Grand Central Place. The big-city-like shopping complexes established Somerset as a mecca for shoppers all over South Central Kentucky.
It can be said the Correll family, with their developments on U.S. 27, broke the "small town syndrome" that has kept so many small towns from growing. Many downtown merchants strongly resented the U.S. 27 business explosion. One said the "magnificent" 50,000-square-foot Rose's, anchor store in Tradewind, "won't last six months." Another said, "If people want quality, they must come downtown." Still another begged Somerset City Council to pass an ordinance "protecting downtown stores."
Mr. Correll's son, Blaine Correll Jr., said it was his father's idea to make Tradewind shopping center a retail strip mall. Tradewind businesses gave The Commonwealth and The Somerset Journal, both weeklies, an advertising base to merge and form the Commonwealth Journal, Somerset's daily newspaper, in January 1966.
Tradewind center resulted in the Great Migration of downtown businesses to what then was called the Truck Route. And Grand Central Place transformed U.S. 27 into a retail magnet.
Mr. Correll was born on April 28, 1922 in Frazer, Wayne County, but spent most of his life as a resident of Somerset. He was a graduate of Nancy High School and attended the University of Kentucky, majoring in pre-med until he enlisted in the United States Army in 1942. During World War II he served as a surgical technician with the 27th Evacuation Hospital in Europe and Africa until his separation from the Army in 1945. Thereafter, he enrolled at Eastern Kentucky University where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and Business.
Early in his career, he taught farming techniques and management skills to returning soldiers in Pulaski County under the G.I. Bill. He later expanded his interest in agriculture into the tobacco warehousing industry, building or obtaining auction warehouse interests in Somerset and Richmond as well as various communities in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
During his travels in the warehousing business, he met his wife of 45 years, the late Dolores Jean Powell, in Douglas, Georgia. They were married in Daytona Beach, Florida on February 9, 1963. A son, Blaine S. Correll, Jr., was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on April 23, 1964.
Later in his career, Blaine was a real estate developer and commercial builder. In addition to various residential subdivisions and apartment complexes, he developed or co-developed many retail shopping center and office properties including Tradewind Shopping Center, Grand Central Place and the Correll Building in Somerset. Also, Trademart Shopping Center in Corbin, Trademore Shopping Center in Morehead, Tradeway Shopping Center in Monticello, Colonial Manor in Danville, University Plaza in Martin, Tennessee and Parkway Office Suites in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Additionally, his construction firm, CB&S Construction, built many commercial and institutional buildings in Kentucky and surrounding states including classroom and administration buildings for Somerset Community College, University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University, Morehead State University, Murray State University, University of Tennessee and University of Cincinnati, as well as retail projects for firms such as Wal-Mart Stores and JC Penney.
For several years, Mr. Correll was also involved in the banking business as a director and partner in First and Farmers Bank of Somerset and Lincoln County National Bank.
He enjoyed and was active in local and state politics, first in the Democratic Party and later as a Republican. He was a delegate and an alternate delegate to the National Democratic Conventions in 1988 and 1980, respectively.
Mr. Correll was an active member of First Baptist Church, where he attended services regularly, up until the time of his illness, and served on various committees. He greatly enjoyed the fellowship of other members, visiting prospective new members in their homes, and serving as a caroler for the annual Christmas musicals. Previously, he was a member of Oak Hill Baptist Church where he led the congregational singing from time to time.
A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at First Baptist Church, 128 North Main Street. The Rev, French Harmon and the Rev. Bill Adcock will officiate. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Interment will be in Oak Hill Cemetery.
Lake Cumberland Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Complete obituary information will be published later in this newspaper.