Yates, Sarah Roberson

Sarah Yates with daughter Mary. | Photo by Kathy L. Puckett

The woman, the myth, the legend – “Tess, the Pure Woman,” Sarah Roberson Yates left us on April 12, 2017 with her daughter Mary at her bedside. Sarah loved her daughter, her dogs, her koi, the oxford comma, warm afternoons on her back porch reading a good novel, and Sunday morning salons with lots of coffee. Mostly in that order. She hated cilantro, serif fonts, and disingenuousness. Not necessarily in that order. Sarah loved beautiful things and making things beautiful, and always seemed to make things special with extra, personal touches. She knew anticipation was the best part of meal, gift, or event, and what exact colors to mix together in paint, or enamel, or yarn. Sarah was great at writing, raising peonies and roses, making incredibly unique jewelry, fixed a darn good roast, and always there with an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, or an offer to knee-cap someone if necessary. It was wonderful to see Sarah begin work on new project, especially when she would start throwing out ideas and you could just feel the creative juices flowing. Her real gift was knowing how to take all those wild ideas and consolidate them into a realizable project. When she was confident in something or someone it was contagious.

Sarah was an engrossing story-teller, and you could be sure almost every story was true. She spoke of impromptu trips with Teka where they gazed at the vastness of the ocean with their daughters Mary and Tye, about the perils of flipping houses with her friend Bettye, and the (too numerous and potentially illicit to mention) escapades of her gang from IU Southeast, and made you feel as though you had been right there, and in on the joke. In the midst of making a life she collected many willing co-conspirators and a get-away driver or two – the aforementioned quiet sister Teka, the waggish Barb, the brilliant Kay, the loving and generous Porter, the dedicated Shelly, the kind and creative Tom, the fun-loving Lisas, and so many others.

Sarah was a writer, arts administrator and creative spirit. Among her many achievements, most recently Sarah contributed her historical research and writing talents to many installations of museums, historical sites, and visitor’s centers both locally and across the country. Sarah considered raising her daughter as a single parent to be her most important accomplishment but making beauty and history available to the public is the wonderful, humanistic legacy her friends, family, and colleagues will remember her for.

Sarah was preceded in death by her parents Helen Persise Roberson and O.H. Roberson, her brother Trent Roberson, her beloved dogs Eliot and Tony. She left behind her daughter Mary Helen Yates, son-in-law Ron Jasin, her dog Claire, her sister-in-law Ellen Kuznar, her nieces Marjorie Roberson and Elise Harding, and nephew Bill Roberson and her many close and loving friends. Sarah’s memorial service will be held at Mount Saint Francis by the lake on May 13, 2017 at 12:30 PM. There will also be a church service on June 24th at the Salem Presbyterian Church in Salem, IN. Please visit the family’s Caring Bridge site at for details.

Scharre, Mary Jane Sandfort

Mary Jane Sandfort Scharre, daughter of Christian and Paula Sandfort, age 82, passed away peacefully on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Masonic Homes of Louisville, surrounded by her loving family.

She is preceded in death by her husband, Edward. She is survived by her daughter, Kate Scharre Nitzken, and sons, Edward W. Scharre, Jr. and Steven C. Scharre. She is also survived by six grandchildren and brother, Alvin Sandfort, all living in the Louisville area.

Mary Jane proudly graduated from Mercy Academy and attended the University of Louisville.

Mary Jane worked as the President of Pine Pals, Inc. and as a church cantor until her retirement in 2014. She was an active church member at St Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Martha’s Catholic Church. She was a cub scout leader, boy scout leader, and also a girl scout leader at St. Martha Catholic Church.

She loved singing and gardening and was devoted to her children and grandchildren. She will be greatly missed by her family and loved ones.

A mass of Christian Burial was celebrated 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Visitation was held 2-8 p.m. Tuesday at Ratterman and Sons Funeral Home, 3800 Bardstown Road, Louisville, KY.

Memorial contributions may be made to Mercy Academy.

Cambron, Joshua Keith

Joshua Keith Cambron, 31, passed away on Friday, April 21, 2017.

He was born in Seoul, Korea on August 10, 1985. He attended St. Athanasius Elementary School, St. Francis deSales High School, where he was a Governor’s Scholar Recipient, and attended Bellarmine University.

Joshua always worked hard at every occupation he had and always enjoyed helping others. He currently worked as a finisher at Spinal Systems, Inc, where he took great pride in helping people with disabilities. During his life he overcame the many complications of being born with Klippel Trenaunay Syndrome. Joshua was a fighter and survivor and defended people who needed it.

He is the beloved son of Wilbur and Trish Cambron of Mt. Washington; very loving fiancé of Nicole Armes of Louisville, KY. He is also survived by and loved by his brother, Tony Carbone (Teresa) of Louisville, KY; sisters, Angela Mattingly (Frankie) of Bardstown, KY, Vickie Killgore (Ronald) of Frederickstown, KY and Tiffany Dunaway (John) of Louisville, KY; many nieces and nephews; and many great friends.

His funeral is noon Thursday at Fern Creek Funeral Home, 5406 Bardstown Road. Visitation is noon-8pm Wednesday.

His family appreciates the kindness and efficiency of the LMPD Homicide Division and Jefferson County Coroner’s Office.

Josh and his family stayed at Ronald McDonald Houses all over the country during his early health struggles and it is suggested that in lieu of flowers, donations be given to the Ronald McDonald House.

Cochran, Mimi Wilson

Mimi Wilson Cochran, 82, of Louisville passed away March 28, 2017. Please join her family for a musical tribute and Celebration of Life Service 11am pm Saturday April 29, 2017 at Springdale Presbyterian Church, 7812 Brownsboro Road, Louisville, Ky. The family requests that Memorial gifts be given to Portland Avenue Presbyterian Church, 5126 Portland Avenue, Louisville, KY, 40212.

Birkhead, Robert Norman

Robert Norman Birkhead, Jr., age 79, passed away in Louisville, Kentucky surrounded by his family on Sunday, April 23, 2017 at 6 p.m. He was born on August 30, 1937 in Louisville, Kentucky to Robert Norman, Sr. and Annie Mae (Meadows) Birkhead.

He graduated from Louisville Male High School in 1955 and went to college at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky where he played basketball and made lifelong relationships.

On January 1, 1960, he married Mary Helen Sharber. They had one son and three daughters. Bob began his career working with his father at Birkhead Heating and Air, and later owned and operated the business until he retired. He also was a respected residential homebuilder for many years.

Anybody who knows Bob knows his love for golf, hunting and basketball, but mostly golf. Bob was a member of South Park Country Club and he and Mary spent much of their spare time in recent years at their golf resort home in The Villages in central Florida.

Most of all, Bob was known for his affable personality and keen sense of humor. He was a fun and encouraging friend and a loving grandfather who enjoyed attending the activities of his nine grand children—whether it was a high school or University of Louisville basketball game, a school play, or Grandparents Day, he was always there.

He is survived by his extraordinary wife of 57 years, Mary; son, Robert Norman, III, daughters, Rhonda (David) Levitch, Tonya, (Matthew) Chalfant; nine grandchildren, Robert Norman Birkhead, IV (wife: Jordan), Daniel Birkhead, Camille Birkhead, David Levitch, Jax Levitch, Conner Chalfant, Brooklyn Chalfant, Gazelle Chalfant, Chinara Chalfant; sisters, Mary Ruark, Judy Birkhead, Sherry Toledo. His daughter Sheila preceded him in death in 1990.

Funeral services were held Wednesday, April 26 at 11 a.m. at Southeast Christian Church, 920 Blankenbaker Parkway, Louisville, with the Rev. Bob Russell officiating. The family greeted friends Tuesday April 25, from 2:00 to 8:00 pm at Arch L. Heady & Son Funeral Home at 7410 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40222.

If you needed encouragement, a golf tip, a game score or a good laugh, you could always count on Bob Birkhead.

Matson & Gilman are your ambassadors to the Kentucky Experience

Photos by Ryan Noltemeyer.

By Minda Honey

Kaitlyn Soligan and Nicole Stipp are Matson & Gilman. When naming their Bourbon Trail concierge service, they drew inspiration from the 2013 Fred Minnick book “Whiskey Women: The Untold Story of How Women Saved Bourbon, Scotch, and Irish Whiskey.” Paying tribute to two high-spirited women who made history rebelling in the name of whiskey, Esther Matson and Livinia Gilman, is only appropriate for a duo that aims to share in defining the future of America’s native spirit by making visitors rethink everything they thought they knew about Kentucky – one trip at a time.

The two, whom I first met in January at a networking event for creatives, see themselves as storytellers. “To be able to say, ‘You’re eating at Harvest, which is owned by a farmer … or Rye, which has a garden out back and picks some of their own herbs for cocktails’ — those stories, you can’t find that on Trip Advisor,” says Stipp. “Our job is to tell those stories of those companies, and that’s what we have the most fun doing.”

Soligan adds, “What we also see as residents and small business owners is the question of ‘Who gets to tell the stories of what happens in this city and in this state?’ When we talk about the expectations people have of [Kentucky], it’s just the stories they hear, mostly being told by people that are being filtered through media that doesn’t have a presence here.” She continues, “We have the opportunity when they come out here and visit to disturb and upend those narratives and build new ones. So the question becomes, ‘What stories does the city of Louisville want to tell and how do we help Louisville tell those stories? How do we help the Bourbon Trail tell the amazing stories they want to tell?’”

“And the great thing is there are such amazing stories here,” says Stipp. “There are amazing businesses here that put that in the front. There are restaurants here where you can’t escape the fact that it’s farm-to-table. You can read the ham down to the county line. That is a part of the charm we help people find.”

They also celebrate what Soligan describes as Louisville’s “long history of taking in refugees and immigrant families.” It’s what makes it possible to make things happen in this city, “You can bring what you know here and use it to help make this city a better place.” Which is just what these two transplants have done — Soligan is from Massachusetts and Stipp grew up in Indiana.

Stipp points out, “The better Louisville does, the more dynamic and diverse that Louisville becomes and is, the more opportunities we have to bring diverse kinds of clients here.” And because the bourbon bubble isn’t expected to burst anytime soon, its reach will continue to expand, which will only add to the state’s growing tourism industry.

Kentucky Peerless Distilling Company is one of the many stops Matson & Gilman plan for clients.

And it’s not just tourists that Matson & Gilman are playing guides for. They’ve also tailored their services toward locals, Soligan says. “We plan bachelor and bachelorette parties. We love to take that responsibility over for people. Let us do all of that work for you and all you have to do is go out and enjoy all of those great experiences because part of our job is knowing what’s happening right now that wasn’t happening a week ago. We like to put that knowledge to use for locals and friends.” They’re also the ones to turn to when you have out-of-town guests and need recommendations or are looking for a unique, unparalleled experience you wouldn’t be able to arrange on your own.

The business partners — whose decade-long friendship started in D.C. and took them to Kigali, Rwanda, and New York City before landing them in Louisville — credit their time as executive assistants as the secret to their success because they know the right questions to ask. Soligan says that at the start of their careers, “We were dealing with high-end, high-touch clients all the time who had very specific things that they wanted. They have resources, but not the time.”

Stipp agrees, “Our job is to help direct people toward the places with the closest experience to what they want.” They know the most Instagram-able distilleries, the distilleries where you can linger over a cocktail for several hours and the insider logistics info like which distilleries have food and which don’t and how many distilleries you can see in a day — they recommend three max. Stipp explains, “[Distilleries] make the bourbon where you’re visiting, so there’s a limited amount of time you can spend,” plus the distilleries are spaced out. Pro-tip from Soligan: Get going early: “You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning.”

Matson & Gilman is full-service from the itinerary to transportation to handling any issues you might have during your trip — yes, they’ll even pick up your dry cleaning for you. For clients interested in a less hands-on experience, they can design your itinerary and send you on your way, or you can book a Q&A phone session to save you hours and hours of Google searches. Stipp has even been known to create bar guides for clients and entire neighborhood maps. One of her favorite suggestions is a “Two Sides of Louisville” tour that begins in the courtyard at Holy Grale and ends at one of Louisville’s most beloved dive bars, The Back Door. They can also create a custom niche experience for you and your party. Looking for a LGBTQ-friendly trip? They can plan that. Only want to spend your time at women-owned businesses? Not a problem. Struggling to find places that are open on Monday? They have a list for you. Just give them a budget and they will work closely with you to plan a memorable experience.

Although Matson & Gilman held their launch party in February, they started accepting clients late last year. One of their earliest tours landed them in a Forbes travel guide. They’ve gained most of their business by word of mouth — always a good sign —but clients have also been able to get in touch with them through their website at

I’ll share  two more tips from the experts: 1. Soligan says, “Eat local and ask the bartender. The bars around here have things you can’t get anywhere else.” 2. Stipp says, “If you’re not a bourbon drinker, don’t sweat it.” They’re not bourbon snobs and will help you find the bourbon for you, and if that’s not appealing to you, Soligan suggests eating your bourbon instead, specifically, “The bourbon bread pudding at Missy Hillock’s Chateau Bourbon.”

Soligan and Stipp have been surprised by, and incredibly appreciative of, how quickly their business idea, dreamed up on Soligan’s porch over glasses of bourbon, has taken off. Where is Matson & Gilman headed? Stipp says they’re measuring their success in their own way: “Have we been able to open up new conversations about bourbon, bring new people into bourbon … bring more people of color onto the trail? … How many more people can Matson & Gilman reach in whatever way works?” It sounds like, in due time, Fred Minnick might find himself adding a Soligan and Stipp chapter to his next book about the history of whiskey women. VT

Hats on the Avenue

A great Derby tradition for Varanese on Frankfort Avenue, this weekly Wednesday fashion show through the month of April features half-price bottles of wine, dinner and appetizer specials, live jazz and the opportunity to buy your Derby hat from area boutiques while you dine.

Photos by James Eaton.

Hats on the Avenue

A great Derby tradition for Varanese on Frankfort Avenue, this weekly Wednesday fashion show through the month of April features half-price bottles of wine, dinner and appetizer specials, live jazz and the opportunity to buy your Derby hat from area boutiques while you dine.

Photos by James Eaton.

Angel’s Envy Tour and Tasting

The Hosparus Health Board of Overseers enjoyed a private reception, tour and tasting at Angel’s Envy Distillery at 500 E. Main St. For nearly 40 years, thousands of people living with life-limiting illnesses have relied on Hosparus Health to help them get the most out of each day. The Board of Overseers as well as other volunteers are at the core of their work.

Photos by James Eaton.

Putt fore The Patch

The Mellwood Art & Entertainment Center on April 19 saw putters putting for a great cause at The Cabbage Patch Settlement House’s annual Putt fore The Patch. The event is a unique 18-hole indoor miniature golf tournament that raises funds to support The Cabbage Patch’s programs, including summer camps, music and art programs, tutoring and college preparation services.

Photos by Tim Valentino.

Tales of the Tin Cup

This evening with Justin and Mike Thomas served as a benefit to support The First Tee of Louisville. At 23-years-old, Justin is widely recognized as one of the exciting talents on the PGA Tour, and his father Mike has been the head golf professional at Harmony Landing Country Club for 28 years.

Photos by Bill Wine.

100 Wise Women

Leadership Louisville hosted their spring 100 Wise Women event on April 18 at The Olmsted. At every 100 Wise Women breakfast forum, guests have the opportunity to connect with distinguished women from all career stages and backgrounds; learn by exchanging ideas, sharing concerns and discovering expertise; and grow while strengthening leadership capacity. This edition’s special speaker was anchor Monica Hardin of WLKY News.

Photos by Bill Wine.

KTO Pre-Derby Dinner

Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners (KTO) gathered at Big Spring Country Club for their annual Pre-Derby Dinner. KTO is committed to long-term solutions that will enable them to protect and promote the Thoroughbred industry and strive to increase their influence on issues that impact the industry locally, nationally and internationally.

Photos by Bill Wine.

Hats for Hope

On April 20, Hats for Hope presented a fun-filled evening featuring a silent auction of over 300 beautiful new, designer and gently used Derby hats; approximately 100 gift baskets; and other donated services and merchandise. Guests sipped on a signature cocktail, enjoyed scrumptious hors d’oeuvres and desserts, tried on hats, took photos with friends in the photo booth, read words of wisdom from cancer survivors and knew that they were helping provide support to those dealing with cancer. All proceeds went to Kosair Charities, which will distribute to programs that support those with breast and various other cancers.

Jason Middleton’s Thunder Party

Situated on a hill overlooking the Ohio River and downtown Louisville, Jason Middleton’s private Thunder Over Louisville party has become one of the most exclusive places to enjoy the fireworks. Hats from Griffin Hatters were available for purchase while guests enjoyed a four-piece music ensemble, appetizers, dinner, drinks and the beautiful view. Donations were collected to benefit American Cancer Society.

Thunder Lounge

Held on a private rooftop downtown, the always-sold-out Thunder Lounge presented by J Wagner Group, Kentucky Derby Festival and Coxx Events offers one of the best views of Thunder Over Louisville. The threat of rain and chillier temps didn’t dampen this party as guests danced and dined the day away in preparation for the main fireworks event.

Photos by Tim Valentino.