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Ellis Waggoner Dies

Ellis C. Waggoner, 79, of Prospect, KY, died Thursday afternoon, April 12, 2007 at Jefferson Palce Nursing Home.

Ellis was born in Irvington (Breckenridge County), KY, on May 16, 1927 to Frank and Lucy Waggoner. Frank moved the family to 4149 Southern Parkway in Louisville, KY. Ellis was the last of thirteen children. Ellis was a member of the Thoroughbred Club of America, a life member of the United Professional Horsemen's Association, a life member of the American Saddle Horse Museum Association, Inc., a senior member of the American Saddlebred Horse Association, Inc., The Filson Club, and a Charter Member of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Ellis Waggoner was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the World’s Championship Horse Show at the Kentucky State Fair in 2001.

Ellis is survived by his wife, Nancy L. Waggoner (Prospect, KY); son, Eric L. Waggoner of Louisville, KY; and a sister, Dorothy Nesbitt of Louisville, KY.

Horse trainer Ellis C. Waggoner was the "Winston Churchill of the Saddlebred business," Cindy Boel said.

"He was just one of those colorful characters," said Boel, who co-owns Zubrod Stables in Prospect with her mother, Bonnie Zubrod.

"He was a very important part of my life," Boel said. "Ellis mentored me as he did many, many people. He was very, very giving of his knowledge. He is a very big part of our success."

By the time he was inducted into the Kentucky State Fair's Horse Show Hall of Fame in 2001, Waggoner had stopped riding because of years of back and leg injuries and other health problems. He sold the last of his own horses in 2000, telling The Courier-Journal in 2001, "If I can't ride him, I don't want to own one."

Waggoner, the youngest of 13 children, was unofficially adopted by a childless couple who fostered his interest in horses. He learned to ride when he traveled with the Cole Bros. Circus for about three weeks, teaching himself to finesse a horse with the slight adjustment of the reins.

Boel said she won't forget Waggoner's "wealth of history" and "ability to tell a story."

Zubrod said she and Waggoner "go way back" to the days when they both attended Southern Junior High in the South End.

"He was a very good trainer. He had some wonderful horses. It was his life from the time we were teenagers," Zubrod said.

Nelson Green, a fellow trainer, said Waggoner "was just the most, most unique fella."

"He was probably underestimated as a horseman, even though he had such tremendous success," said Green, who owns Nelson Green Stables in Nicholasville. "He was just this super, super horseman."

Visitation will be held from noon -3 p.m. on Friday, April 20, 2007 at Pearson's Funeral Home, 149 Breckenridge Lane, Louisville. The family requests that expressions of sympathy be sent to the American Lung Association or the American Saddlebred Horse Museum in Lexington, KY.

Source: The (Louisville) Courier-Journal

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