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'He was always there': Longtime rescue squad captain remembered

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Posted at 7:21 PM, Sep 13, 2021

SALYERSVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — For more than 40 years, whenever extreme weather hit Magoffin County, there was one man to call: Carter Conley.

"Anything that happened, he was there. He was always there," said Whitney Lovely.

In 1974, Conley launched the Magoffin County Rescue Squad with a few hundred bucks and a bread truck.

"He gave his all. He gave his all for the county," said Pete Shepherd.

Pete Shepherd is the city's mayor and county health director.

"When we got the vaccine, Carter was one of the first ones to give us a call saying he wanted the vaccine," said Shepherd.

Despite being fully vaccinated, friends say Conley contracted COVID-19 in August then checked himself into the hospital as breathing became harder.

He died three weeks later.

"It's frustrating, and it's frustrating when someone like Carter, especially when he's so vital to the community, to succumb to this disease even though he followed all the rules. He got vaccinated. And it's terrible, it's terrible we're having to go through this," said Shepherd.

The pandemic continues to worsen, and now Magoffin County has lost its longtime quarterback for almost any crisis.

"Everybody's family in Magoffin, family one way or another, over the past 40 years, has been impacted by something that he's done through the rescue squad in one way or another," said Magoffin County Judge/Executive Matt Wireman.

"He definitely will be missed by everybody that knew him. And everybody in here knew him," said Lovely.

"Can't be replaced, he never will be replaced here in Magoffin County," said Donald Trusty.

He cannot be replaced, but in 47 years, he's left a blueprint.

"Carter taught us all, everyone here how to do that, and adapt and overcome," said Billy Shepherd with the rescue squad.

"Be kind to your neighbor and take care of the unfortunate ones in the community," said Salyersville Fire Chief, and friend, Paul Howard.

"Never quit. He's a pit bull when it comes to the rescue squad," said Shepherd, another longtime friend.

His friends also told stories about Conley's lifelong love of the Kentucky Wildcats and said that Saturday night's win was bittersweet knowing that was his last one on earth.

Conley's funeral will be held on Thursday afternoon at 1:00 at Magoffin County High School. The service is open to the public.