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In Loving Memory: Tiger Town’s Tribute to Joey Couch

In 1972, E. A. Couch moved to Paintsville, Kentucky with his high school sweetheart, Janie Calhoun Couch, and their two sons, David and Joey.

The Couch family planted their roots in Tiger Town — and their son Joey became a star. In Basketball, 2000+ career points, 3x Regional Champion, played on the Kentucky-Indiana All Star team; in Football, All-State team, State Runner-Up, and played on the Kentucky-Tennessee All Star team.

Joey’s jersey on the Paintsville High School Basketball “Wall of Fame”

Joey was All-SEC as a Kentucky Wildcat. Those things we know — those things everyone knows.

Some of Joey’s memorabilia on display at his funeral service, held at Paintsville High School Gymnasium.

What everyone doesn’t know is the light that the small town of Paintsville has lost in his passing. Joey was as good of a friend as he was fierce as a competitor; his loyalty to his town unwaivering. A phenomenal son — the absolute light in his mother Jane’s eye, a brother — David’s most supportive companion, a father — more pride in his sons Braxton and Tyler than any achievement or accolade, and a loving husband — who didn’t mind if the world knew how much he loved his Angel.

I first met Joey in 2015 at the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen. Like my husband, he was walking around with one of those passes for being a “legend” who would be taking a free throw shot at halftime. Once they laid eyes on one another, it was as if a lifelong friendship had picked up right where it left off last — the hugs and stories flowing. Joey wrapped me up in a big bear hug, thanked me for how happy I made his friend. Since then, Joey had reached out to me regularly, wondering when we could all catch up again. I quickly found out that his kindness wasn’t just because we were in front of him at that moment, kind is what Joey was.

Two Tiger Greats: Joey Couch pictured with J.R. VanHoose at the 2016 KHSAA Sweet Sixteen.

What I loved most is how crazy he was about his wife — they got married on a whim shortly after I met him… and the tokens of love he showed her, without shame, were powerful enough to give you faith in the promise of marriage. You could feel Joey’s excitement and joy just because Angel was his; we can all hope for that in our own lives.

The last few days I’ve tried to get others to put into words how Joey’s presence made you feel. Anyone you ask, there’s no real definition of what kind of man Joey Couch was. But I have found in my 31 years that the most beautiful feelings are the ones you cannot articulate into words. They are simply lived. It was his signature bear hug, his very genuine “how is it going?”, his empathy for all people, and his giant heart and gentle soul — those are the best qualities of Joey Couch. And while he was a stellar athlete, a legend and hero for athletes across the Commonwealth, I pray that more people live and love like Joey Couch did. He truly was one of a kind.


In Loving Memory of:
Joel Emory Couch
May 10, 1968 – December 17, 2017


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