Secretary of State

Elmer Begley

Term of OfficeJanuary 1, 1968 - September 18, 1970
Governor during his term of OfficeGov. Louie B. Nunn
Assistant Secretary of StateLelia Feltner Begley
EducationEastern Kentucky State Teacher's College (Richmond, Madison County, Kentucky); Morehead College (Morehead, Rowan County, Kentucky)
Spouse(s)Leila Feltner
ChildrenLouise; Carolyn; Elmer, Jr.
ParentsIra & Mary Jane Begley
Siblings1 brother & 3 sisters
ResidenceKentucky (Leslie County)
OccupationEducator; Career Politician
Birth Date7/5/1912
Birth PlaceKentucky (Leslie County)
Date of Death9/18/1970
Place of DeathKentucky (Lexington, Fayette County)
Cause of DeathCancer
Place of BurialKentucky (Hyden, Leslie County)
National OfficesDirector of the Federal Farm Security Program for Leslie & Perry counties
County Offices HeldLeslie County Judge

Elmer Begley, Secretary of State for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 1968-70, was born in Leslie County, Kentucky, July 5, 1912, to Ira and Mary Jane Begley. He had one brother and three sisters. After graduating from Eastern Kentucky and Morehead colleges, he taught high school and coached football for two years and then taught and served as principal in Leslie County elementary schools for nine years. From 1943 to 1944, he served as director of the Federal Farm Security program for Leslie and Perry counties.

Early in life, Begley decided he wanted to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and become county judge. He was elected to that office for four consecutive terms, beginning when he was only twenty-four years old, and he served seventeen years in that position before running for statewide office in 1967. A Republican, he was elected Secretary of State on a ticket headed by Louie B. Nunn and served from 1968 until September 18, 1970, when he died of cancer at his apartment in Lexington after an illness of several months. He was buried in Hyden. He was survived by his wife, Leila Feltner Begley; two daughters, Louise Begley and Carolyn Daley; and one son, Elmer Jr.

On September 21, 1970, Governor Nunn appointed Leila Begley to fill her husband’s position as Secretary of State. She had served as Assistant Secretary of State since her husband had appointed her to that position when he took office.


"Louisville Courier-Journal," September 19 & 22, 1970;

Newspaper clipping, ca. September 19, 1970, Kentucky Historical Society Library vertical files;

Researcher's note: The Social Security Death Index states Elmer Begley’s birth date as July 5, 1914, but information supplied by Leila Feltner Begley states the date as July 5, 1912. Information also supplied by Louise Begley Hume.