The commission of Kentucky Colonel is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Governor of Kentucky. It is recognition of an individual's noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to our community, state and nation.

I Retro: Kimmer, am a KENTUCKY COLONEL...no joke I really am. I was appointed by the only woman Kentucky Governor The Honorable Martha Layne Collins on my birthday February 9, 1986. I have attended the Kentucky Colonel Pancake Breakfast at the Kentucky Derby in the past and drank Mint Juleps with other Colonels at the Derby/Churchill Downs... Y'all take a peek at the history of the Colonels... Elvis Presley was one too! xK

Kentucky colonel is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Commissions for Kentucky colonels are given by the Governor and the Secretary of State to individuals in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to a community, state or the nation. The sitting governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky bestows the honor of a colonel's Commission, by issuance of letters patent.


The title "Kentucky colonel" was first formalized in 1813, but was in informal use before that to refer to people with honored reputations, often related to military service in the American Revolution.

It was often associated with landowners respected in their communities. When the Kentucky Militia was deactivated following the War of 1812, Governor Isaac Shelby commissioned Charles Stewart Todd, one of his officers in the campaign, as an aide-de-camp on the Governor's Staff with the rank and grade of colonel. (Todd married Shelby's youngest daughter two years later.)

Former Kentucky Gov. Martha Layne Collins

Early colonels served military roles in the state. In the latter part of the 19th century, the position took on a more ceremonial function. Colonels in uniform attended functions at the Governor's mansion and stood as symbolic guards at state events. By the late 19th century, the title had become more of an honorary one. But, since commissioned Kentucky colonels are considered members of the Governor's Staff as his honorary aides-de-camp, all are entitled to the style of "Honorable" as indicated on their commission certificates. This is rarely used, however; Kentucky colonels are usually just referred to and addressed as "Colonel". In writing, usage is Kentucky colonel when the term is not being used as a specific title for an individual.

Famous Kentucky colonels:

Over the years, many celebrities have held the title Kentucky Colonel. Here is a list of a few of the individuals, arranged in alphabetical order by their first name:

Ann Margret

Ashley Judd

Barry Manilow

Betty White

Bill Clinton

Billy Ray Cyrus

Bing Crosby

Bob Barker

Bob Hope

Carol Channing

Crystal Gayle

Dale Evans

Danny Sullivan

Dick Smothers

Dwight Yoakam

Edgar G. Robinson

Elvis Presley

Foster Brooks

George Bush

Glenn Frey

Harlan Sanders

Hugh O’Brien

Jeff Foxworthy

Jeff Gordon

Jimmy Durante

Johnny Depp

Jose Ferrer

Lloyd Bridges

Louise Mandrell

Mae West

Marie Osmond

Mario Andretti

Mel Tillis

Muhammad Ali

Naomi Judd

Norm Crosby

Norman Schwarzkopf

Omar Bradley

Pat Day

Peter Graves

Phyllis Diller

Pope John Paul II

Retro: Kimmer!

Richard Petty

Richard Thomas

Ronald Reagan

Rosemary Clooney

Roy Rogers

Shirley Temple Black

Tiger Woods

Tom Smothers

Tom T. Hall

Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Newton

Whoopi Goldberg

Winston Churchill

Wynonna Judd

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