U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Eugene Siler Jr. speaks during the Leadership Tri County 2016 Leader of the Year banquet held in London Tuesday evening. Photo by Trent Knuckles
U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Eugene Siler Jr. speaks during the Leadership Tri County 2016 Leader of the Year banquet held in London Tuesday evening.
Photo by Trent Knuckles

Business and community leaders from across Knox, Laurel and Whitley counties came together Tuesday night in London to recognize Senior U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Eugene Siler, Jr. as Leadership Tri County’s 2016 “Leader of the Year.”

Dr. Michael Colegrove, the 2015 recipient of the award, explained that Siler was a worthy recipient because he is the embodiment of the servant leader.

Colegrove explained that while a leader strives to accumulate and exert power; the servant leader strives to enrich the lives of the individual and works to create a more just and caring world.

“Gene Siler lives a life of service to his family, church, community and country,” Colegrove said.

Colegrove noted Siler shows the trait of a servant leader everywhere, including when helping at First Baptist Church’s monthly food pantry where he greets everyone with a smile and a handshake.

“He has a way of making everyone feel very important,” Colegrove explained.

Siler began practicing law in Williamsburg in 1964.

“My goal was always to live and practice law in Williamsburg,” Siler said.

Siler practiced law with his father for a year before he was elected Whitley County Attorney in 1965.

In 1970, Siler moved to federal court, being appointed United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

Siler was appointed to the federal bench in 1975 and the court of appeals for the Sixth Circuit in 1991.

The eastern district was based in Lexington, forcing Siler to relocate. However, during his tenure on the federal bench, the federal court in London opened. Siler used the opportunity to return to Williamsburg while remaining on the bench.

Siler’s impact on the future of federal and state court is in evidence today. Among the individuals who clerked for him are current U.S District Court Judges Danny C. Reeves and Gregory VanTatenhove, U.S. Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram and Whitley Circuit Court Judge Dan Ballou. In addition, a number of local attorneys including Todd Childers, Jim Wren and Steve Smith served as clerks.

“I want to thank all of them and all of you for supporting an old country judge,” Siler said.