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Ky. philanthropist Wilma Barnstable, co-founder of the Barnstable Brown Derby Gala dies at 94

Courtesy Barnstable Brown Family

Kentucky philanthropist Wilma Barnstable died Friday at the age of 94, family confirmed. 

Barnstable was born and raised in Corbin, Ky. Family described her as “a force of nature.”

She attended the University of Kentucky and was a grade school teacher for decades, according to an obituary.

Barnstable is perhaps most known for her philanthropic work. She co-founded the Barnstable Brown Derby Gala with her daughters, Patricia and Priscilla. They raised more than $17 million toward diabetes research, treatment and education. Those funds established the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center, part of University of Kentucky Healthcare, in 2008.

“Not bad for a girl from Corbin,” a statement from the family said. 

“Thanks to Ms. Barnstable and her family, patients with diabetes in Kentucky are receiving the highest level of care and benefiting from innovative research that impacts treatment and understanding of the disease,” Dr. Mark F. Newman, UK executive vice president for health affairs, said in a news release. 

Newman added that the center has been, and will continue to be, “a tremendous asset and resource for everyone in Kentucky and beyond.” Because of that, he continued, “Ms. Barnstable’s legacy will live on for many years to come.”

The obituary said Barnstable was also a talented singer, skilled seamstress, former Miss Whitley County, businesswoman and “all around creative, strong and brilliant woman.”

“Willie deeply loved her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” the remembrance said. “Her happiest days were spent with them at family dinners and, especially, at the Derby Gala. She was a wonderful friend to so many people, both young and old.”

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