Saturday, October 26, 2002

Obituary: Kash Amburgy, preacher, salesman

He recorded more than 3,500 sermons

By Rebecca Billman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Mr. Amburgy

SOUTH LEBANON - Kash Amburgy became a household name in Cincinnati because of television commercials touting his "Big Bargain Barn" - a furniture and appliance store in South Lebanon - throughout the 1960s, '70s and early '80s. For many, his homespun style put the small town on the map.

His closing line: "Follow the signs, follow the arrows to Kash's Big Bargain Barn in South Lebanon, Ohio, where you save cash with Kash."

He delivered it in the rapid-fire cadence of a preacher at a tent revival - with his wife Mary Lou beside him playing the organ. In fact, he was a tent revival evangelist and radio preacher, doing the work of God far longer than his 23 years in the furniture business - and to a much larger audience.

A minister for more than 60 of his 80 years, the Rev. Mr. Amburgy was in his 53rd year with the Bible Church of God Radio Broadcast on WPFB-AM (910) in Middletown. He recorded 3,500 sermons that were broadcast to more than half of the states, in Canada, the Bahamas and South America over 68 stations. He did his last live broadcast on Sept. 29.

In addition, the Rev. Mr. Amburgy built more than 350 homes in Warren County between 1950 and 1962 and operated a travel agency, through which he and his wife organized more than 100 trips to the Holy Land.

The Rev. Mr. Amburgy died of multiple strokes Wednesday at Cedar Village Nursing Home in Mason.

Born to Floyd D. and Jalah Spencer Amburgy, in Owsley County, Ky. in 1922, the Rev. Mr. Amburgy told the Enquirer in 1960 that "My pappy named me (Kash) so that he would always have some of it around."

He started out hawking Bibles door-to-door and when he moved to South Lebanon in 1947, claimed to be the "world's champion Bible salesman."

His sister-in-law, Helen Amburgy of Lebanon, said he once sold 170 Bibles in six days.

Soon after his move, the Rev. Mr. Amburgy was preaching on the radio and dreaming of bigger things.

He opened a lumberyard and "became the supplier of materials for a whole town - South Lebanon," according to a 1961 Enquirer story.

Then he set out to reach his goal of building 1,000 homes. After building more than 300, he ran into financial difficulties in the late '50s. Although in debt for $2.5 million, he was able to pay back his creditors with interest.

"His main purpose in life was to help people," said his sister-in-law. "He never made people pay him back if they didn't want to pay him."

The Rev. Mr. Amburgy remained proud of his Eastern Kentucky heritage and dubbed himself the "Ole Country Boy from South Lebanon, Ohio," with a twang attached to "Ohio."

Survivors include: his wife of 52 years, Mary Lou Gilbreth Amburgy; four brothers, Wayne of Booneville, Ky., and Blaine, Ellis and Cotton Amburgy, all of Lebanon; and two sisters, Faye Roblin of Stanton, Ky., and Kay Penwell of Trenton, Ohio.

Visitation is 3-9 p.m. Sunday at Stine-Kilburn Funeral Home, 801 Monroe Road, Lebanon and noon-1 p.m. Monday, at Kings Point Church of God, Ohio 48, Maineville, followed by the funeral. Burial will be at Deerfield Cemetery in South Lebanon. Memorials: Bible Church of God Radio Broadcast, P.O. Box 98, South Lebanon, Ohio 45065.


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