Bert T. Combs
Bert T. Combs (August 13, 1911 – December 4, 1991) was an American jurist and politician from Kentucky. After being decorated for prosecuting Japanese war criminals before military tribunals during World War II, he returned to his law practice in Prestonsburg. In 1951 he was appointed by Governor Lawrence Wetherby to fill a vacancy on the Kentucky Court of Appeals, and was elected to a full term later that year. He was elected the 50th Governor of Kentucky in 1959 on his second run for the office. Combs secured passage early in his term of a larger-than-needed three percent sales tax to pay a bonus to the state’s military veterans, and used much of the surplus to improve the state’s educational system and expand the state park and highway systems. He was appointed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, serving three years. In 1985 Combs’ challenge to the state’s education funding model led to a court ruling that declared Kentucky’s entire public school system unconstitutional. In 1991 Combs was caught in a flash flood on the road, and died of hypothermia.
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