(Updated) West Point Mayor Kenneth Kilgo dies at 61

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West Point Mayor Kenneth Kilgo passed away on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019 at the age of 61. (Cullman Tribune file photo)

WEST POINT, Ala. – West Point Mayor Kenneth Kilgo has died at age 61. The announcement of Kilgo's passing was made early Monday morning on a Facebook page, Warriors for Kenneth, set up by his family.

"We would like to thank everyone for the prayers, well wishes and messages of support. Yesterday Kenneth went into kidney failure and due to him having sepsis we decided to get him started on dialysis hoping this would help. Libby and I (Shawn) visited with him for a while yesterday afternoon and evening. At 1:15 this morning we got a call from the hospital asking us to come back. Unfortunately at around 1:30 this morning Kenneth passed away. We ask for continued prayers for our family during this time and also for Kenneth's daughter Nicolette who is currently in England and will be flying back to the U.S. Tuesday. Arrangements will be made once Nicolette arrives and we will post them as soon as they are made. And again our family wants to thank everyone for their support. We love all of y'all."

The exact cause of the mayor’s death has not been released, but he had been hospitalized since falling at his home in December 2018.

Kilgo was born and raised in West Point and the love he had for his hometown, county and country was undeniable. The 1974 graduate of West Point High School went on to serve his country for more than 20 years in the U.S. Army. After he retired from the military as a sergeant major, Kilgo returned home to West Point, dedicated to his town. 

“He served his country honorably and was just a great guy,” said friend and fellow veteran, retired U.S. Air Force Col. Ken Brown.

The Thomas Jefferson Denney Camp 1442 Sons of the Confederate Veterans, of which Kilgo was an active member, also shared the news Monday morning.

Member Steve Bryan shared, “I ask you all to be much in prayer for all the friends and family of our Brother Kenneth Kilgo. And let's pray for each other. Brother Kenneth went to sleep in the arms of our Lord and Savior early this morning. Don't have the words to express the separation from my friend and brother. We are all blessed who could call him friend.”

Thomas Jefferson Denney Camp 1442 Commander Wayne Willingham said Kilgo served as first lieutenant commander and was part of the camp for around 12 years.

“We will have a color guard standing post at his visitation,” Willingham said, “if the family’s agreeable to it.”

Kilgo, who previously served on the West Point City Council, was first appointed as mayor of West Point in 2006. He was then elected to the position in 2008, 2012 and 2016 becoming the longest serving mayor in West Point. He is credited with being the driving force behind the many improvements to the town’s park, paying off and improving the sewer system and the building of the new fire station. 

Kilgo was proud of the community shelters, improvements to and support of the schools and attracting new business and industry to the West Point area. On Nov. 30, 2018, Kilgo and the Town of West Point celebrated the official ribbon cutting and grand opening for Dale’s Market, along with the long-awaited completion and opening of the new turn lane at the Alabama Highway 157 intersection with County Road 1242.

At the ribbon cutting, Kilgo’s primary focus was how much safer the people in the community are with the intersection improvements; a happy Kilgo smiled, “We’ve spent three years working on getting this turn lane. With all the trees there before, you couldn’t see to make turns. Now, it’s much safer. A lot of people go through that intersection- lots of school buses, lots of teen drivers and so many others. This is so much safer and better.”

Kilgo worked to advocate for both his hometown and Cullman County, serving as executive director of Cullman County Red Cross from 2007-2009 and head of the Cullman County Mayors and Commissioners Association from 2009-2010, later serving as the CCMCA’s treasurer. He also served as part of the North Central Alabama Regional Council of Governments (NARCOG).

An emotional Baileyton Mayor Johnny Dyar spoke about his friend, “He had the town of West Point on his mind and in his heart in everything he did. He was that way about the whole county; West Point should be proud that he was their mayor. When I first became mayor in Baileyton, I turned to Kenneth for advice. He gave me good advice-smart advice. He’s one of the smartest mayors I know. He helped me so much and I don’t know if I could have made it without him. He’s what I can call a good friend and I enjoyed being with him. I’m going to miss him.”

Shared Good Hope Mayor Jerry Bartlett, “He’s a good friend. I’ve gotten to know him since I’ve become mayor and he’s always been helpful.”

Rep. Corey Harbison, R-Good Hope added, “My dad and Kenneth were friends growing up. I knew him because of my dad and not really because of politics. He’s just a good guy.”

Cullman County Commissioner Garry Marchman said, “Kenneth never was real political about the things he did, but if you look at what he’s done since he’s been at West Point: Jack’s has come in, that turn lane he worked on for four years to get. We’ve had numerous improvements in business and in the schools. He’s worked, worried me I guess you could say, about paving the roads. He’s got a good infrastructure, worked on the sewer and so much behind the scenes he has done as mayor that are a benefit and a long-lasting benefit. I don’t know how to put into words how much he loved his community.”

Continued Marchman, “He retired from the Army. He’s a veteran and strong advocate for the Sons of the Confederacy. He served in artillery most of his military career and was a drill instructor for quite a while. He was a good instructor and has a lot of recognition for his military service. He was good friends with a lot of the mayors. He really supported the municipalities and what they were fighting for. He was a great community guy and will be missed.”

The Tribune will publish service details when they become available. Check www.CullmanTribune.com/Obituaries.

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