2015 Man of the Year: Ray Blair Canady

Ray Canady webRay Canady’s response to being named Knox County Man of the Year speaks volumes about his character. “I feel honored,” Canady said, quickly adding, “I probably don’t deserve it.”

But, lifelong friends like Deputy County Treasurer Jack Ketchum think differently, “I have known Ray for 60 years. He was my schoolteacher years ago. He is a good man and very deserving of this honor. He is a big asset to Knox County and Barbourville.”

Humble and always looking to put others first, Canady quickly tried to shift the attention from himself to the staff and management at the Knox County Hospital. “There are a lot of really good, dedicated people here at the hospital. They provide quality care, they really do,” he said.

But, Judge Executive J.M. Hall, Chairman of the Knox Co. Hospital Governing Board, says Canady deserves much credit.

Because of his tremendous expertise, connections and experience in health care, Canady was recruited two and a half years ago to take on the massive challenge of managing the hospital out from bankruptcy. We asked him to come out of retirement, he was not looking for a job,” Hall says. “He came back and helped us. Without him, I am not sure we would even have a hospital today. No one deserves this award more than Ray.”

With nearly 200 hospital jobs and millions of dollars in economic impact on our community, the Chamber recognized Canady’s efforts have helped keep a lifesaving, huge economic asset viable and growing in our community.

A lifelong resident of this area, Canady was educated at Union College and the University of Tennessee. He holds a masters degree from Union. After teaching school and coaching football for two years at Barbourville City School, he worked seven years for the Commission for Handicapped Children. Then, he became the administrator of the Knox and Whitley County health departments. He served successfully in that capacity for 14 years.

He left to become administrator of the Knox County Hospital. For over18 years he helped the hospital provide critical services to the community and left it in a strong financial position.

After that, he returned to the health department’s administrator role for Knox and Whitley Counties for 12 more years of service before he retired, and was recruited to come back to the hospital.

In addition to his full time work in the health care field, he served his country and state as an officer in the Kentucky National Guard for 30 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. He also taught part time as an adjunct professor for Union College. Always passionate about sports, he refereed high school sports for 20 years, and worked for the Kentucky High School Athletics Association, assigning referees to basketball and football games in the 13th Region for 40 years. Canady also served for 14 years on the Union National Bank board of directors. He is a mason, and active in his church.

When asked what has been the most rewarding or challenging thing he has ever done, Canady replied, “Watching my boys grow up, and raising them was the most impactful and challenging,” he said. He and his wife of 51 plus years, Sandy, successfully raised four boys and saw all four graduate from college. They have seven grandchildren, and two step-grandchildren.

In summing up why he thinks the Chamber clearly made a good choice for man of the year, Ketchum said, “Ray Canady has done a lot, and he has been successful at everything he has done.”

Judge Hall adds, “Our county is blessed to have him.”

Asked about his advice to others, Canady said simply, “Have fun and enjoy life.”