There are only a few in a generation that, by luck or circumstance, are witnesses or actual actors in the significant events of history. But even more rare are those who experience them, decade after decade, throughout their lives. Harvey Sloane fits well in the latter camp.
From roots formed in Virginia, at St. Paul’s and Yale, and later in med school, Sloane moved to Kentucky in the early 1960s as a health provider in rural Appalachia. That first assignment also opened the door for the doctor to debate public policy and, eventually, two terms as mayor of Louisville when the city began desegregation. Over time, Harvey would be credited for his leadership during court-ordered busing, city worker labor strikes, and the creation the city’s mass transit system. He would later lose to Mitch McConnell by only four points for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat.
Perhaps others would have taken a bow after public office and an equally significant record as a Jefferson County judge, Sloane decided his next chapter would be, among other things, being the health commissioner for the District of Columbia and 12 years in Russia spearheading TB eradication efforts.
Given the richness of all these experiences, Harvey, who had never written a book before, set about to document those moments, which culminated in the publication of his memoir Riding the Rails this year.
With plans to have a book event this week in Easton, the Spy reached out to the author by Zoom to learn more about the book and this remarkable life.