Raymond P. Gamble, founder and owner of Gamble Funeral Home, died Wednesday, according to the family funeral home.
Funeral service details are not yet available.
Gamble opened his funeral home at 1311 S. Liberty St. on May 4, 1987, and has been the lead licensed funeral director, embalmer and notary for the past 32 years. His family — wife, Angela Gamble; daughter, Angelique Gamble; and his brother, Joe Gamble — have all been working at his side. Additional staff at the funeral home include Cleadis Sivils, Jeanette White and Garvin Henry, according to the company's website.
For many years, Gamble Funeral Home operated in the building that was the former home of Nat and Rebecca Gant Gaither, parents of Dr. Gant Gaither, and also the former building of Henninger-Lilly Funeral Home until 1986, according to New Era archives.
Gamble lived on the second floor and operated his funeral home out of that building until a fire consumed the structure in 2003. Hopkinsville-Christian County Historian William T. Turner said that facility had been built in part in the 1880s.
According to New Era archives, Gamble suffered burns from the fire but immediately rebuilt the funeral home on the property and got back to business.
In 2017, Gamble was one of the first recipients of the MEDI Honoree Award from the Minority Economic Development Initiative. He and Frances Quarles were both recognized for being local business role models. During that presentation, MEDI Executive Director Henry Snorton said Gamble and Quarles were longtime MEDI champions and supporters.
“Nobody’s ever got any bad words to say about them,” he said.
Snorton said Wednesday that Gamble was like a mentor.
"He was a gentleman that would motivate and continue to try to push you forward," Snorton said. "He was accessible, resourceful, and he was a gentleman. He made you feel like you were somebody no matter who you were."
Just last month, Gamble co-hosted an event with Tom Bell State Farm Agency called "A Purpose Driven Life Preparation Seminar" at Virginia Street Baptist Church. The Oct. 22 event covered topics such as pre-need trust planning, funeral costs, services and wills, and life insurance.
The two had recently started to host the seminars every three months.
"The reason we had that seminar together was not just to build our business but to bring back our expertise to the community," Bell said. "We would have these events every three months or so ... and we found that a lot of people are not prepared. (Preparing for death) is not something that's morbid, and we need to be prepared for our families."
Bell said he and Gamble had been friends for years, and he loved farming.
"He was probably most at peace when he was out overlooking the land," Bell recalled. "He had a pond and catfish in it — he called them his 'babies,' and when he backed his truck up to the pond, he would throw some dog food or fish food out there and the fish would start swirling."
Bell said Gamble was a "gentle giant" who worked behind the scenes to better the community.
"He was an imposing figure, but he was friendly and had a smile that would light up a room," he said. "He wasn't one of those that was out front, but what he did in our community is going to have an impact. Mr. Gamble did so many things, not for fanfare, but because they were the right thing to do."
Snorton said most of all, Gamble was "a super positive guy. He will definitely be missed and cannot be replaced."
Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.