Lexington, KY - Donald W. Webb, co-founder of The Webb Companies, has died at 74 of complications from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Webb, along with his brother, Dudley, led the development of many of Lexington’s major downtown projects, including the Lexington Financial Center, the World Trade Center, Festival Market and Victorian Square, in addition to numerous suburban developments such as the Palomar Centre, Lexington Green and more.
The Webb brothers partnered to establish the law firm Webb & Webb in 1971 and began investing in real estate and development. The next year, they founded The Webb Companies, which went on to develop nearly 5.5 million square feet of office, warehouse, residential and retail space in Fayette County, as well as completing major projects in Texas, Florida, Ohio and more. In 1979, the firms became one.
“He was a great man and a lifelong inspiration to me,” Webb’s son, Woodford Webb – now president of the Webb Companies – said in a statement. “He was self-made, a hard worker and never forgot his roots in eastern Kentucky. He also loved Lexington and wanted the best for this community. He was particularly proud of Victorian Square and The Woodlands projects, two of which he was instrumental in bringing to fruition. He was a tireless leader and was a true friend to many.”
Webb served as chairman of Commerce Lexington and the Fayette County Democratic Party and as the Kentucky chairman of the American Cancer Society. He was also the primary founder of the Downtown Lexington Corporation, according to his bio on the website of the Webb Companies.
Donald Webb served as a member of the board of directors of the University of Kentucky Alumni Association and the visiting committee of the University of Kentucky College of Law. He was also a director of the Business Partnership Foundation of the University of Kentucky College of Business and Economics, a UK fellow, and former national director of the Kappa Alpha Order Education Foundation.
Throughout his career, Webb served on numerous bank boards, governmental commissions and charitable and business organizations, including the boards of the Kentucky Economic Development Corporation, Central Kentucky Blood Center, Fayette County Medical Society Foundation, Kentucky Horse Park Commission, Leadership Kentucky, The Nest, Lexington Economic Development Commission, Lexington United, Humana Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, Triangle Foundation, Fund for the Arts and First Security National Bank and Trust Company.
Webb was born in Hazard and graduated from Whitesburg High School before attending the Virginia Military Institute. He graduated from Georgetown College and the University of Kentucky College Of Law and was a member of the Fayette County, Kentucky and American Bar Associations.
In June 1967, Webb was named as special assistant on the White House staff in Washington D.C., where he served as legal advisor to the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, investigating riots in various cities throughout the nation. Upon completion of this assignment in 1968, Webb returned to Kentucky, where he co-directed the unsuccessful campaign of Katherine Peden for the United States Senate.
Webb was retired from the company and lived with his wife, Julie Howser Webb, in Vero Beach, Fla., for most of the year while maintaining a part-time residence in Lexington. He was in Lexington at the time of his death.
Webb is survived by his wife; a son, Donald Woodford Webb Jr., and daughter-in-law, Kelli Greer Webb; a grandson, Donald Woodford Webb III; a granddaughter, Greer Gabrielle Webb; his mother, Elizabeth Combs Webb; a brother, Ralph Dudley Webb (Marla); two sisters, Debbie Ann Howard (Danny) of Harlan and Judy W. Lowry of Lexington; and seven nieces and nephews, Seth Howard and Whitney Howard; Betsy Lowry and Carwell Gardener, Jr.; and Alex, Will and Ellie Webb. He was preceded in death by his father, Woodford Webb, formerly of Whitesburg, Ky.
Pallbearers will include David Price, Mike Malloy, Ed Nighbert, Bill Warner, Bill Bell, Glenn Hoskins, Frank Sadler and Tim Cone. Honorary bearers include John Rodgers, Joe Hall, Charlie Grote, William B. Stratton, Vergil Kelly, Phil Greer, Leonard Hamilton, Ken Brandenberg, Gene Strong, Ed Houlihan, Bill Combs, Charles Ward, Don Johnson, Elmer Whitaker, L.D. Gorman, Ralph Hacker and Greg Milward.
Public visitation will be held at Calvary Baptist Church, 150 East High Street, Lexington, on Tuesday, July 23 from 9am-11am with funeral services beginning at 11am. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the following charitable organizations: Galilean Home Ministries, P.O. Box 880, Liberty KY 42539; Hospice of the Bluegrass, 2312 Alexandria Drive, Lexington, KY 40504; and VNA Hospice, 1110 35th Lane, Vero Beach FL 32960.