11/3/2017 4:00:00 AM Community
Retired Sen. Luke Kenley of Noblesville listens to speakers' stories and memories during Thursday's "Tribute to Sen. Luke Kenley" appreciation luncheon at Ivy Tech Community College in Noblesville.
The Times photos by Betsy Reason
Retired Sen. Luke Kenley of Noblesville celebrates with his father, Howard Kenley (left) during Thursday's "Tribute to Sen. Luke Kenley" appreciation luncheon at Ivy Tech Community College in Noblesville.
Retired Sen. Luke Kenley couldn't have asked for a better tribute party.
There was a beautiful cake. Lots of catered food. And hundreds of guests.
There were kind words. Some good-natured roasting. And lots of gifts.
One of those surprises was the unveiling of "Kenley Commons" as the new name of the atrium at Ivy Tech Community College Hamilton County Campus in Noblesville. The former Noblesville High School -- from where Kenley played football and graduated in 1963 -- was fittingly the venue for this "Tribute to Sen. Luke Kenley" appreciation party on Thursday.
The guest list was a who's who of state and local officials, friends, family, business folks, nonprofits and anybody else who wanted to thank Kenley for a job well done.
The 72-year-old Noblesville Republican retired Sept. 30, after 25 years in the State Senate, while keeping the budgets balanced and developing long-term road funding.
"I am so grateful that people would come out and help celebrate the return of me," said Kenley, a small business owner and former City Court judge, who said he's glad to be back home.
Kenley sat in a tall chair in front of 250 people while more than a dozen guest speakers, one after the next, shared kind words, funny stories and happy memories about the hometown boy, a Boys & Girls Club member, who grew up and did good for himself and his community. His father, 98-year-old Howard Kenley, was among the Kenley family members who filled a table down front at the celebration.
For every story told, there are undoubtedly hundreds more stories or ways that the politician has served his community and his state, said Bob DuBois, president of Noblesville Chamber of Commerce, which sponsored the luncheon in partnership with Ivy Tech and First Merchants Bank.
Luke Kenley is greatly admired by people near and far.
While being a politician, he approached every issue with common sense and "is someone you can count on," said Kenley's pastor, Jerry Rairdon of Noblesville First United Methodist Church.
Rairdon was one of the guest speakers who also included Mayor John Ditslear, Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, Boys & Girls Club executive director Becky Terry, Hamilton County Commissioner Steve Dillinger, Hamilton County Tourism CEO Brenda Myers, State Rep. Kathy Richardson, First Merchants Bank regional president Michael Hurst, lifelong friend U.S. Air Force Retired Col. George Ferkes, son NHS teacher Bill Kenley, and Ivy Tech president Dr. Sue Ellspermann.
While Kenley very much enjoyed the celebration, he said, "It's really such an opportunity for us all to celebrate together, all of the successes that we've had in the State of Indiana, Hamilton County and City of Noblesville....rather than being an event for me."