School spirit is a sense of comradery shared by classmates. Loyalty is showing faithfulness to a person or institution. True friendship is being thoughtful and kind regardless of the circumstance. A person possessing these qualities and ideals isn’t to be taken for granted or slighted in any way.
Troy York is a friend that displays all three; school spirit, loyalty, and true friendship. Troy, like many who live in western Kentucky, hasn’t strayed far from home plate. Born in Murray, KY, and raised in Paducah, he attended city schools which included Jackson Elementary, Brazelton Jr. High, and Paducah Tilghman High School.
As a young kid growing up in the city and attending city schools, playing sports was a huge part of life. In 7th grade, Troy was 6’2 and ready to shoot hoops. All three years of junior high, the boys' basketball team dominated the court. With Troy over six feet tall, two other players worth mentioning were Gary Cox and David VanCleve each 6’6. “Most teams didn’t have the size and couldn’t compare,” said Troy.
A similar story could be told at PTHS. York played varsity basketball all three years and each year the team had a winning record. His sophomore year the team was 15-9. In Troy’s junior year, the team was 31-4 and he was voted first-team All-State Player by high school basketball coaches across the state of Kentucky. “This award was very humbling,” said Troy. During the ‘79-’80 school year, the team played in the KHSAA State Tournament. The team’s record during his senior year was 23-7.
Bernie Miller was the head coach at PTHS during Troy’s high school years. From 1969 until 1988, he coached at Paducah Tilghman High School. His Tilghman teams won 41 tournament championships, 7 first region championships, and reached the state quarterfinals three times. His overall record was 557-174. Coach Miller recently passed away. He will be missed.
In addition to shooting hoops, Troy was in the starting line-up all three years for the PTHS varsity baseball team. His senior year, he played with two former MLB baseball players Steve Finley and Terry Shumpert. Finley is a two-time All-Star, World Series Champion, and five-time Gold Glove winner. Shumpert was a utility player and an alumnus of the University of Kentucky. Shumpert’s son, Nick signed with the Atlanta Braves in 2016.
Troy said, “We won a lot and only lost to St. Mary’s High School who dominated the sport in the ’70s and early ’80s.” Troy’s brother Trad was a baseball player for PTHS too. Though seven years younger, Troy’s quite proud of his baby brother. “We’ve always been close even with the age difference.”
The York family has always been very sports-focused. Both parents were big supporters of the boys. Dad coached and mom worked concessions. They were active during the early years of the Khoury League and later at Brooks Stadium. “They grew up hard and never really ‘babied’ us. They gave us all the tools we needed to be successful,” said Troy.
Troy had another sibling born three years after him. He said, “We had a sister in-between us that died one day after birth. Her name was Trena and she had a hole in her heart.” It was hard on the family and she’ll always hold a place in Troy’s heart.
After graduating high school, Troy continued his basketball career for the Paducah Community College Indians. He received an Associate’s Degree then continued his education at Murray State University majoring in business with an emphasis in marketing.
After starting at MSU, Troy began attending church with his grandparents. When Troy was younger, going to church wasn’t something the family did regularly. “Mamaw and Pap were hugely important in our lives. Mamaw made sure we knew the Lord.” Troy accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior while at MSU.
Troy said, “Trad was called to the ministry when he was 23 years old after many youthful years of wrongdoing.” Now, he’s a pastor at Waldo Baptist Church in Brookport, Illinois, and Chaplain for the Sheriff’s Offices of McCracken and Marshall Counties.
While at MSU, Troy worked part-time for McKowen Office Supply. “Al was a tough boss, not going to lie about that. He expected hard work daily,” said Troy. While delivering supplies to Ken Higdon at Higdon Food Service, he applied for a job with the company. Three days later, he started his career in the foodservice industry.
After graduating college, Troy took a position in sales with Higdon Food Service and spent the next five years working in Owensboro, KY.
Troy met his wife Barb a year before graduating college. She moved into the apartment above his at Murray Manor. There was an immediate attraction. Troy confesses, “I prefer blondes.” However, it wasn’t just her looks, Troy got to know Barb and discovered they had a similar upbringing, values, and work ethic. She ‘checked all the boxes.’
It wasn’t until Barb left for summer break that Troy realized, “I missed her and she’s the one I want to marry.” Troy proposed at a local restaurant in Paducah. One year later, the couple married.
The Yorks had a big wedding. Barb’s dad was Sheriff in Jacksonville, IL, and had been for 12 years. He was also one of 15 children. Troy chose David Davis as his best man. Davis was Troy’s close friend from high school. They played basketball together at PTHS. He chose Trad York, Shane Boudreaux, and David Lambert as best groomsmen. Lambert passed away a few years ago and is sorely missed.
Troy and Barb have two children, Kelsy Stone (30) and Kyler York (27). Both children are married. Kelsy and husband Isaac live minutes down the road from Troy and Kyler, wife Katie, and son Cole Thomas live just outside of Louisville, KY.
Once married, the Yorks lived in Owensboro until 1990. Their move back to Paducah was initiated so Troy could work the territory in southern Illinois. Troy’s career outlasted several company buyouts. After Higdon Food Service, it sold to Kraft, PYA Monarch, and US Foods. He spent the next 14 years working I-24 and IL-13.
In 2014, Troy joined a new company, Performance Food Service out of Lebanon, Tennessee. Currently, he’s a District Manager managing 10 representatives. After 35 years in the food industry, Troy admitted it had been a good career for his family.
As a traveling salesman or one in management, one can imagine the number of hours spent in the car grabbing fast food here and there. Lots of road hours can translate into a sedentary lifestyle. In 2019, the Yorks set out to change that. Troy and Barb joined a weight loss program designed by Dr. Ryan Frazine, an internal medicine doctor in Paducah. They wanted to live a healthier life, lose some weight, increase energy, and stay off unnecessary medications.
“The first six-weeks is hard. We had to learn to get energy from our food,” said Troy. “We had healthy protein shakes for breakfast/lunch and dinner, four ounces of lean protein, and two healthy vegetables (no starch).” Both have lost 60 pounds and have maintained their weight loss for two years.
Troy hopes to be an inspiration to others who want to drop the pounds. His daughter Kelsy was so inspired, she jumped on the bandwagon. Their son, Kyler, is another story. Troy said, “Kelsy and I used to joke that Kyler must’ve come from an affair with a Barney Fife type with his high metabolism and all.”
Since COVID, it’s been difficult getting together with his kids, their families, and Barb’s mom. “Grandson Cole was born March 14, 2020, the weekend COVID shutdown our nation,” said Troy. “We love him more than life itself.” The visits are few and far between, however, with Facebook ‘live’ and other apps, the Yorks have been virtually present.
“I’m a simple man,” said Troy. “I enjoy bike riding, taking walks, working in the yard, an occasional trip to Florida, our pets, and waking up at 4 am every morning.” After COVID, Troy plans to spend more time with his grandson in-person. Overnight visits are on his radar screen. The Yorks plan to move Barb’s mom to Paducah after COVID. They would like to have her closer.
Over the next couple of weeks, Troy will receive his second COVID-19 vaccination. He’s pumped about having the opportunity to move around more freely. The second shot couldn’t get here fast enough.
When asked about Troys best day, he said, “When I see an old friend out and about or chat over Facebook, I feel JOY. When I visit my kids or grandson, I feel JOY. When I watch my wife smile or hear her laughter while interacting with the kids or our grandson, I feel JOY.” Seeing Troy enjoy life’s simple pleasures, brings all of us JOY.