A former Hopkins County School Board member and current Mortons Gap councilman — who is remembered for his love of community and sports — died early Thursday morning.

Mike Stearsman, 69, of Mortons Gap served on the board from 1996 to 2004 and was elected in November to a seat on the Mortons Gap city council.

Stearsman’s colleagues said he was instrumental in bringing sports to southern Hopkins County.

“Mike was a beloved citizen, having served his country as a member of the United States Army, and also serving in various public capacities as a member of the Hopkins County School Board and a member of our city council,” Mortons Gap Mayor Chris Phelps wrote in a Facebook post. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and all of those who had the honor of knowing him.”

Keith Cartwright, the long-time Hopkins School Board attorney, said that Stearsman’s claim to fame was in the 1980s by bringing football to South Hopkins High School.

“The southern part of the county had never had football before,” he said. “Stearsman was the booster organizer and then later he served on the school board. Mike was always a big supporter of all programs at Hopkins Central High School, particularly the athletic program. His two favorite sports were football and baseball.

“He was a graduate of South Hopkins High School. He was a veteran and worked for the U.S. Postal Service,” he said. “Mike and I organized trips for booster clubs for away football games. Even after his children were out of school, he was always very active in the community. He will be greatly missed.”

Former Hopkins County Judge Charles Boteler went to school with Stearsman and grew up with him.

“Mike and I had been friends since grade school,” he said. “He went to Mortons Gap and I went to Nortonville. But I remember playing little league baseball with him, and we were in band together in junior high school. I would think of Mike as one of my best friends. We graduated from South Hopkins in 1969 together. One thing about Mike was the strength of his convictions. He certainly would always stand up for what he believed in.

“He was persuasive. He could argue well. He was plain spoken. He would be honest about his thoughts and feelings,” said Boetler. “I would say that the football program that began at South Hopkins, he was more responsible for that more than anyone.”

James Lee Stevens served as the Hopkins County School superintendent and worked closely with Stearsman.

“When I became superintendent, he was already on the board,” said Stevens. “He was a strong supporter of mine and a very strong supporter of academics and extracurricular activities. He was supportive of football, baseball and track and field. He would tell you how he felt about you. My relationship with him was very good. He was a very good guy.”

A complete obituary can be found on Page A3 of today’s publication.

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