Lawrence "Larry" Forgy Jr.

Kentucky Republican activist Larry Forgy speaks out against casinos in the state's racetracks, during a press conference Thursday Feb. 9, 2012 at the Capitol in Frankfort, Ky. (AP Photo/John Flavell)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Lawrence "Larry" Forgy Jr., a prominent Kentucky Republican and former candidate for state governor, died early Thursday morning at the age of 82.

Forgy's sister, Kentucky Sen, Alice Forgy Kerr, posted the news on Facebook.

"It is with a heavy heart but with thankfulness to God for a life well-lived that I announce the passing of my brother Lawrence E. (Larry) Forgy, Jr. at 12:50 a.m. today at the UK Hospital in Lexington," she posted. "He was a devoted son, brother, father and friend in addition to his long and distinguished career in law and politics.

"We are all heartbroken to lose this wonderful man who had a profound impact in Kentucky, but we are comforted to know that he is now in the embrace of our Heavenly Father. We are grateful to all who have assisted in his care and comfort during his last several years of declining health."

Funeral arrangements will be forthcoming. 

Forgy was a strident opponent of casinos at the state's racetracks. He was narrowly beaten by Paul Patton in the 1995 Gubernatorial race.

Kentucky politicians were quick to offer their condolences on Thursday. U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell called Forgy a prominent Kentucky Republican who "made an important mark on our state party."

"Larry built a high-profile career in both law and politics, making it his life's work to serve the Commonwealth and its citizens."

"Through his advocacy, he forged friendships with Kentuckians from all corners of the state, and I know we will all miss his humor, lively speeches and kind heart," McConnell added, in a statement. 

Kentucky Auditor Mike Harmon said he was saddened to learn of Forgy's passing.

"His passion was for the betterment of our Commonwealth, and he dedicated much of his life in advocating for Kentucky," he said in a statement.

Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles called Forgy "a pioneer in Kentucky Republican politics."

"To hear Larry deliver a speech was a real treat," Quarles said, in a statement. "He was one of the best off the cuff stump speakers I ever had the privilege of hearing, never hesitated to speak his mind, and served as an inspiration to many young conservatives growing up in Kentucky. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."

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