Bratcher receives Humanitarian Award for impact made on others’ lives

February 25, 2024 | 12:09 am

Updated February 25, 2024 | 1:55 am

Ina Bratcher received the local Humanitarian Award at Daviess County's 44th Annual Farm City breakfast on Saturday. | Photo by Ryan Richardson

You wouldn’t know it just from visiting her booth at the Owensboro Regional Farmers’ Market, but Ina Bratcher has quite a life story. She’s traveled the world — literally, visiting more than 90 countries across all 7 continents — and has impacted countless lives through her mission efforts and quilt ministry. But it all started from humble beginnings growing up on area farms. And on Saturday, the 94-year-old was presented with the local Humanitarian Award.

The award, presented during Davies County’s 44th Annual Farm City Breakfast, recognizes an outstanding leader whose life of service has improved the well-being of citizens throughout the Greater Owensboro area. 

After receiving the award, Bratcher briefly reflected on how she was able to experience the modernization of farming.

“It’s been a good life,” Bratcher said. “Growing up a little old farm girl in Breckinridge County, I know what it is to get worms off of tobacco, to do all that hauling, to chop out corn, to poke wires through an old wooden hay baler. I know what it is to have the first tractors to help with the farm because we had old mills and horses and all that stuff. Farming has really changed.”

She also said that it’s important to support farming and make sure younger generations keep the profession thriving.

“We need more farmers,” she said. “A country that cannot feed itself is in trouble. I thank every farmer here — young farmers, old farmers, and farmers to be — we need you.”

Joan Hayden, who established Hayden Farms in Philpot alongside her husband in 1983, presented the award. 

“Ina is one of the most beautiful, devoted, hard-working, independent, loyal, determined, kind-hearted, compassionate, generous, smart, dedicated, women you would ever want to meet,” Hayden said. “Her greatest love is Jesus Christ, and her family is an extremely close second with her friends and those in need not far behind.”

While the Humanitarian Award is largely designed to recognize the impact on local lives, Bratcher’s reach has truly been global.

Bratcher is the second of four children in the Estill Tucker family. She was born on the Tucker farm in Breckenridge County and spent her early years there. When she was 16, her parents sold the family farm and moved to another farm at Hites Run near Hardinsburg. 

Bratcher graduated from Breckinridge County High School in 1950 and moved to Owensboro the next year, when she started working at General Electric Company. She retired from GE in 1990.

Bratcher was a member of the old Walnut Street Baptist Church in Owensboro and taught in the children’s Sunday school department there. After the church building burned, she and her late husband, Otto, moved to Bellevue Baptist Church where she remains a member. Bractcher volunteered in the kitchen for Wednesday night meals for many years and is consistently part of a life group Bible study.

Bratcher has been involved in several Bellevue mission trips, including to Niger, Mali, Bolivia, Haiti, and twice to Ukraine and Portugal. She — along with friends, Bellevue members, and a sister church — helped the Niger missionaries start a “goat project” to assist in purchasing goats to supply a source of nutrition for many young children in Niger.

While volunteering in Ukraine orphanages in 2003, Bratcher saw that there were no blankets on the children’s beds. She got a few friends together to make quilts at Bellevue for these kids. She founded the Bellevue Quilt Ministry and is still actively participating today. The Quilt Ministry has been active for over 20 years and has grown substantially to include a large number of women and men of varied ages and backgrounds who work together to make and give quilts to those in need. More than 6,000 quilts as well as other items have been donated to numerous organizations, families, and individuals locally and across the world.

Bratcher is also a longtime member of the Friendship Force of Western Kentucky, which is part of an international organization with the goal to connect people through home-hosting and meaningful travel experiences. The Friendship Force’s mission is “to promote global understanding across the barriers that separate people.”

She has also volunteered at what is now the Owensboro Health Regional Hospital on Wednesdays since 1994. 

Since 2012, Bratcher has been a regular at the Owensboro Regional Farmers’ Market alongside her son Kenny Davis, who runs the GoldenRed Sunflower Produce Farm. Bratcher can be found at the GoldenRed booth selling her baked goods, homemade jams and jellies, and the blackberries she grows in her backyard. She also helps her son with his garden by weeding and harvesting the green beans.

The Farmers’ Market opens for the 2024 season on April 13. If you make it out, it’s worth finding the GoldenRed booth to see Bratcher and appreciate what she’s done for the local community and beyond. 

February 25, 2024 | 12:09 am

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