Sunday, March 18, 2018

Dr. William P. 'Buddy' McElwain, health commissioner for Govs. Louie Nunn, Wendell Ford and Julian Carroll, dies at 84

Dr. W.P. McElwain in 2012
Dr. William P. "Buddy" McElwain, who was Kentucky's health commissioner under three governors in the 1970s, died Tuesday, March 13. He was 84.

McElwain was a graduate of Daviess County High School, Murray State University, the University of Louisville School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University. After an internship and two-year residency, he served eight years in the U.S. Public Health Service, working at Indian reservations and the Oklahoma health department.

He was associate director of the Fayette County Health Department in 1970 when Gov. Louie B. Nunn, a Republican, named him state health commissioner. He kept the job under Gov. Wendell Ford and returned to it under Gov. Julian Carroll, another Democrat, until 1978, when he returned to medical practice and later worked at the University of Kentucky. He was executive vice president for medical affairs for the Kentucky Health Care Access Foundation, which Democratic Gov. Brereton Jones and the legislature created to provide health care for people who were below the poverty line but did not qualify for Medicaid.

From 1994 to 2012, he practiced at Rockcastle Regional Hospital and Respiratory Care Center in Mount Vernon. After retirement, he remained in the area.

McElwain is survived by a brother, Bob McElwain; sons Paul, David and Brandon McElwain, daughters Nancy Curtis and Ruth Childers, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. The funeral will be private. Memorial donations may be made to The Miracle Fund, Rockcastle Regional Hospital, 145 Newcomb Avenue, Mt. Vernon KY 40456. For his full obituary, click here.

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