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In Memory: Lexington’s business community has lost three icons

Small Business and civic service are two of the hallmarks of Lexington leadership, and Lexington has lost three lions in recent months.


Harold Wayne Critchfield


Harold Wayne Critchfield, 75, died in March 2024 at the Lexington VA Medical Center, surrounded by his family. The Lexington native attended Henry Clay High School, and briefly UK before choosing to serve his country by enlisting in the Navy. He later completed his education at EKU, and returned to Lexington to help run the family business, Critchfield Meats, along with his siblings, before retiring in 2007. 

One loyal customer wrote, “Harold, along with his brothers, made Critchfields the successful business it is today and always has been.”

He took up piano playing in his 50s, and had recently been teaching himself to play “I Will Always Love You,” for his beloved wife, Martha.

Friends and family say he was known for his generosity, “often emptying the freezer to give food to others”


Cecil Dunn


As shared by their family, Cecil and Judy Dunn were married on July 10th, 1965, and raised their sons together in Lexington, where the front door to their home on Kingsway Drive was always open, the house was often full of friends and family, and Cecil could be found holding court in his den.

Dunn enjoyed a distinguished six decades of legal experience. He served as the General Counsel of the Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC), as a Criminal Trial Commissioner and Assistant County Attorney for Fayette County, and was appointed as the Special Prosecutor for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, for the Beverly Hills Supper Club Fire

investigation in 1978 and 1979. He was a proud member of the Kentucky Bar Association (KBA). He received the Henry Duncan Award, Fayette County Bar Association, 1997, The Lexington Optimist Community Service Award, 1997, Kentucky Housing Corporation Excellence in Housing Award, 1996 and had an AV Pre-Eminent Rating by Martindale- Hubbell.

He had a passion for his community, church, UK Basketball and family. He served as a Board Member and Chairman of the Lexington Civic Center (Rupp Arena). He was the Executive Director of the Hope Center for twenty-four years, before retiring in 2019. He said of the Hope Center: “It was the best thing that I have ever been associated with. “Second chances are born and nurtured here.” Both Cecil and his dear friend, the late Don Ball, dedicated the second halves of their careers to the mission and vision of the Hope Center, bettering thousands of lives in the process. He was a life-long Presbyterian and devout member of First Presbyterian Church in Lexington.

Pallbearers at his service included Senator Mike Moloney, Luther Deaton, Jim Exline, Walter May, Ray Edelman, and Leonard Hamilton. Honorary Pallbearers were George Begley, Joe Terry, Jim Hatfield, Harold Mullis, the late Don Ball, the late Joe Smith and the late Tommy Chandler.

William “Buddy” Wheeler


Wheeler Pharmacy is a family-run pharmacy and soda fountain located in the heart of the Romany neighborhood in Chevy Chase.

William “Buddy” Wheeler died in February at the age of 89. He opened Wheeler Pharmacy in 1958, just 2 years after graduating from the UK College of Pharmacy, and recently described it as his greatest accomplishment in life. Despite selling Wheeler’s to his daughter in 2020, Buddy was involved in behind the scenes operations up until his death. Buddy’s presence will be greatly missed.

Commerce Lexington said of his passing, “Over the years, Wheeler Pharmacy has become a Lexington tradition, and today Buddy’s entrepreneurial spirit lives on through his children and other family members. We salute Buddy for his positive impact on the Lexington business community, and we send our deepest condolences to his family and all who loved him.”

Congressman Andy Barr said, “I grew up going to Wheeler Pharmacy and still enjoy spending time there with my family. May Buddy rest in peace.”

Mayor Linda Gorton wrote,”William ‘Buddy’ Wheeler founded a business, Wheeler Pharmacy, that has become a landmark in the Chevy Chase and Romany Road area. Since 1958, people have relied on the business for drugstore needs, but also as a place to gather at the soda fountain for food and conversation. Buddy will be remembered for his kindness to all those he encountered.”

Upon learning of his passing, one customer wrote, “My heart just burst into a million pieces! He always made it a point to ask how I was doing, ask about the family, congratulate or offer condolences for whatever I was going through — and he almost always knew before I told him. Buddy always had the tea. He will be missed.”

Another wrote, “This man, his family, and the employees are part of the backbone of our community. Kind. Friendly. Caring. A great legacy.”

Customers can still order a “Buddy Burger” at the soda fountain.

This article appears on page 7 of the April 2024 issue of Ace. To subscribe to digital delivery each month, click here.