Elizabeth Fitch Surgener, 68, entered into rest in June of 2023. She was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1955 to Barbara Soden Fitch and Damon Milford Surgener, Jr. She attended The Kentucky Home School for Girls and was a graduate of Ballard High School. She went on to graduate from Randolph Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia, her mother’s alma mater. In 1980 she married and moved to Prospect, Kentucky, where she lived with her three daughters until the early 1990s. After her divorce, she attended the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, where she graduated with a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She then relocated to Florida, where she resided until her death.
“Liz,” as most people knew her, had a lifelong love of horses. The family lived in Paducah in the 1960s, where, as a child, she had her first horse, Dynamite. After the family moved to Louisville, she took lessons and competed on the amateur circuit in three- and five-gaited competitions throughout Kentucky and the southeastern US. She competed in the World Championships at the Kentucky State Fair and took first place one year with her prized horse, Fashion’s Debutante, in the Saddle Seat division. Upon entering college in Virginia, she joined the Hunt Team and enjoyed collegiate competition. She rode for many years afterward. Her family followed her to many contests, and her closet was always full of ribbons.
Elizabeth was proud of her family’s history in Kentucky, taking great pains to educate her children and extended family about the impact her ancestors made on the city of Louisville and the surrounding areas. Her ancestors’ homelands included the areas where the Louisville Zoo sits today, lands near the Louisville airport, and a large section of what today is the Jefferson Memorial Forest. One ancestor, Jenkin Phillips, is buried at a family cemetery at the present-day Louisville Zoo. He was given a Revolutionary War land grant that included the land where the Zoo sits today, and she was adamant that her children knew who he was and took them to visit his grave numerous times. Another ancestor was John Fitch, Founder of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and eventual settler in Bardstown, Kentucky.
Elizabeth would also want readers to know that her mother, Barbara, was a woman ahead of her time. She was an archivist at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC after her university education was concluded. When Barbara returned home to Louisville, she worked at the Filson Club, today known as The Filson Historical Society, as an archivist before marrying. Barbara was active in local historic preservation efforts including at the Farmington Historic Plantation in Louisville.
Elizabeth was proud of her father’s service in the Army in the Korean War as well as his long career in Kentucky’s land and river transportation industries. She was also proud of her grandfather, Damon Surgener, Sr., who played on Harlan, Kentucky’s first football team and went to The University of Alabama, which lifted the family out of the holler in Harlan, Kentucky. We still Roll Tide in his honor.
Both of her grandmothers were college-educated, especially unusual during their lifetimes. Margaret Wright Hudson Surgener was educated at the University of Alabama, where she met Damon, Sr. Marium Hunter Phillips Fitch had a Master’s Degree in chemistry from the University of Louisville. Elizabeth was especially proud of coming from a long line of strong, educated women.
More than anything, Elizabeth was proud of her three daughters, Margaret Kimberl, Jennifer Potts, and Barbara Kimberl. She placed an emphasis on their education and carried on the family tradition of Girl Scouting and piano lessons. Her daughters will always remember the times spent driving to Sanibel Island, Florida, stopping for cassette tapes from Cracker Barrel, and the torment of Barry Manilow on repeat along the way.
Elizabeth is preceded in death by her father, Damon Milford Surgener, Jr., who died in February of 2023, and her mother, Barbara Fitch Surgener, who died in 1987. She is survived by her three daughters, Margaret Kimberl, Jennifer Potts, and Barbara Kimberl, as well as two brothers, Damon Milford Surgener, III and Stewart Surgener, and her stepmother, Patricia DeReamer-Surgener. She is survived by three grandchildren, Jacob Kimberl, Mason Kimberl, and Madison Roks. She is also survived by her lifelong best friend, Margaret “Missy” Welch Battcher, her eldest daughter’s Godmother.
Her remains will be repatriated to Kentucky, her ancestral homeland, where they will be interred at the Fitch Family plot in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky at a date to be determined later.