Pre-Fancy Farm labor luncheon renamed in honor of Danny Ross

By BERRY CRAIG

AFT Local 1360

The annual West Kentucky Building and Construction Trades' pre-Fancy Farm labor luncheon has a new name.

"From now on, it will be the Danny Ross Labor Luncheon," said Larry Sanderson, who helped start the Paducah feed. "He was one helluva labor man and we're going to miss him."

A veteran Bluegrass State labor leader from Louisville, Ross died last month in a Falls City hospital. A retired member of IUE/CWA Local 83761, he was 71.

Sanderson, himself a well-known state labor leader, said Ross suggested the luncheon as a Paducah kickoff for the state's premier political picnic in nearby Fancy Farm in 1991. That year, Ross was labor liasion for Democrat Paul Patton's successful campaign for lieutenant governor.

"Danny came up with this idea of labor folks getting together," said Sanderson, a retired UA international representative. "It grew from there and people have been coming to the luncheon for years. It's all because of Danny and his vision."

Ross was a labor liaison for Patton as lieutenant governor and governor. Ross held the same post for Gov. Steve Beshear and for Greg Stumbo, when he was attorney general. 

"All we had to do was pick the phone up and call if we had a problem and Danny would help us with it," said Sanderson. "He was our go-to man for so many years." 

After the building trades voted to rename the luncheon for Ross, the group made up a plaque and called on Sanderson to present it to him at the Labor-Management Conference at Kentucky Dam Village State Park last September.

But the heart condition that ultimately claimed his life prevented Ross from attending. Sanderson hoped Ross would be well enough to receive the plaque at the state Pipetrades Convention in Louisville last month.

Sanderson ended up presenting his union brother the award on his deathbed. "There were several people there --George Boyd, Skipper Martin, Larry Clark, Danny's brother; and Eddie Jacobs," Sanderson said. "Danny was going in and out but he understood because tears came in his eyes."  

Sanderson said Ross died about a week later. 

The labor luncheon, held at Paducah's Walker Hall, attracts local, regional and statewide union officials, union supporters and Democratic politicians from governor down. It is always set for mid-day on the Friday before the Fancy Farm picnic, the first Saturday in August.