Born in Lackey, Kentucky on July 31, 1924. Diversified Industry Executive. University of Kentucky, B.S., 1946.
William Sturgill became deeply involved in the coal business in 1959, when he joined with long-time coal operator Dick Kelly and formed Kentucky Oak Mining. Together they pioneered surface mining and reclamation techniques and built the largest coal auger in the world. In 1970, they sold the holdings in the company to Falcon Seaboard Oil Company, although he stayed on as president until 1972.
He returned to the coal business the next year and over the next eight years he would develop the Golden Oak Mining Company, which he sold in 1981 to a Tulsa-based oil company. He joined with First Chicago Venture Capital and bought the company back in 1989 and remains president.
Other positions and business interests include Chairman of the Board of Central Rock Mineral Company, Lexington; East Kentucky Investment Company; Big Elk Creek Coal Company, Elkton; Fourth Street & Gentry Tobacco Warehouses; Energy insurance Agency and Hartland Development Partnership. Other corporate boards include Bank One of Lexington, CSX Railroad and the East Kentucky Economic Development Corporation.
In the early 1980s, he served Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. as both Secretary of Energy and Secretary of Agriculture, at a salary of one dollar a year. During his tenure, he successfully negotiated a coal order with Italy that generated revenue for Kentucky coal operators.
His present and past civic service includes chairman of the Council on Agriculture, Kentucky Export Resources Authority, Kentucky State Racing Commission and Kentucky Coal Marketing Council.
He has served on many other boards and commissions, including Cardinal Hill Hospital, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Spindletop Research, the Appalachian Regional Hospital and the McDowell Cancer Research Foundation.
He has served 18 years on the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees and as chairman for 10 years of that period. He also has served as a trustee of Pikeville College and was chairman from 1990-1995.
In the late 1950s he organized and was president of Hazard Independent College Foundation, and made major contributions to the law that set up the Community College System. He has received honorary Doctors of Law degrees from both UK and Pikeville College.
A generous benefactor to UK, the Sturgill Development Building is named in his honor.
William B. Sturgill was inducted into the Hall of Distinguished Alumni on May 19, 2000.