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Underwood, former superintendent, dies at 83

Staff report

Former McCracken County School District Superintendent Tilford L. Underwood died Thursday at age 83. (Obituary, 9A)

A native of Puryear, Tennessee, Underwood graduated from Murray State University with a bachelor's degree in agriculture. He finished his student teaching requirements at the University of Kentucky.

Underwood taught at Sedalia High School before eventually settling in the McCracken County School System for a career that spanned more than 35 years. He taught agriculture, was an Future Farmers of America adviser at both Reidland and Sedalia high schools and eventually rose to the title of superintendent of schools.

Upon retirement, he was employed by the Murray State University Continuing Education and College of Education at the Paducah campus to supervise and advise students, teachers and student teachers.

"From his start as a vocational agriculture teacher to his retirement as superintendent, Mr. Underwood made a great impact on all those he taught and served," said Dr. Tony Brannon, dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture at Murray State.

"His wealth of knowledge and experience was a great asset to helping develop the next generation of educators. He always made himself, his family, his schools, and Murray State University proud," Brannon added.

Brannon knew Underwood not only as a Murray State agriculture graduate but also as a family friend and former neighbor, living just across the road from the farm where Underwood was born.

In the complete obituary in today's Sun, family said in his last few years Underwood spent many hours sharing the stories of his youth and the lessons he learned from life, including living with glaucoma and partial blindness.

"His overcoming of disabilities, handicaps and personal and professional trials served as an example of strength and courage to all," Brannon said.

"In his later years, his eyesight deteriorated, and he eventually went blind but he never lost his vision for the value of education and enjoying life."

Visitation for Underwood is from 9 to 11 a.m. today with the funeral at the Lone Oak Chapel of Milner & Orr Funeral Home and Cremation Services.

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