A community leader, former teacher and member of many community service organizations, Emogene Puckett Burton Chandler passed away at Thursday, Jan. 31, at the age of 96 leaving behind a legacy of service to her community and a passion for education.

Chandler was most well-known as a teacher due to her time working in both the Johnson County Christian School and Paintsville Independent School District. Chandler graduated from Morehead State University in 1975 with a degree in elementary education, and worked as the educational coordinator of the Big Sandy Head Start Program until 1977, when she was hired as a second-grade teacher at PISD. Chandler officially retired from her 19-year career in education in 1996, but continued to be involved in shaping the minds of Johnson County’s youth as a substitute teacher and through her involvement with the JCCS until her death. 

Chandler was also heavily involved in community programs as a member of the Apple Board, Kiwanis International, Paintsville High School Alumni Association, Kentucky Retired Teachers Association, National Education Association, Women Active for Christ of Hagerhill, Senior Citizens of Paintsville and the Big Sandy Council on Aging. 

According to Hager Hill Freewill Baptist Church Pastor Ronnie Spriggs, Chandler was a devout Christian and her fellow church members remember her as fondly as the community she served. Spriggs called Chandler his “earthly hero.”

“(She) was one in a million,” Spriggs said. “Voted Citizen of the Century by the city where she lived, taught and labored for 96 years, (she) carried that kind of honor modestly and with her usual dignity, vitality as humility.

“I was blessed to have been her pastor for last 25 years, only a quarter of a century out of this amazing life lived out by an incredible woman of God,” he continued. “But I could never assume to have been her spiritual leader. Oh, no, on the contrary, she has and does inspire me … Her life, her love, and legacy is that of a great Christian example, one that I could only hope to imitate.”

Funeral services for Chandler were held Feb. 3 at Hager Hill Freewill Baptist Church and Spriggs officiated.

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