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Local Business Leader, Former Kenton Judge/Executive Rodney "Biz" Cain Dies

Local business and civic leader Rodney "Biz" Cain passed away on Thursday.

He was an owner of Wiseway Plumbing, Electrical & Lighting Supply in Florence and was Kenton County Judge/Executive for a brief period in 1998.

Among his other roles in the community, Cain was a member emeritus of the Northern Kentucky University Foundation Board and a former president of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. In the 1990s he was appointed by Governor Paul Patton as Secretary of Workforce Development, a position he left when Patton had him take over as Kenton Judge/Executive following the resignation of Clyde Middleton.

In a 1999 retrospective, then-Cincinnati Enquirer writer Pat Crowley wrote of Cain, "...(in 1998) the aptly nicknamed Rodney “Biz” Cain, an Independence business owner, served as Kenton County judge-executive and pretty much stirred things up from the time he took office in the spring until he left in December. At least that's how a lot of county officials, politicos, and others saw Mr. Cain's tenure. They saw a maverick, a boat-rocker, a lame duck, and an appointee who didn't have to answer to the voters do pretty much what he pleased. In other words, just the way a hard-nosed, successful business owner might operate."

According to a write-up before Cain received the Lincoln Award from NKU, it was noted that he and his wife, Jackie, received the honorary alumni award from Covington Latin School for the continued support. Someone who nominated Cain for the award wrote, "Outstanding citizenship, notable lifetime achievement, distinguished professional service and distinguished community service all describe Biz Cain and the life he has led here in Northern Kentucky," according to a 2011 announcement.

That announcement also noted Cain's other endeavors including acting as chairman of the Boone County Water Commission, member of the Northern Kentucky Master Plumbers Association, Northern Kentucky Homebuilders Association, Northern Kentucky University Foundation and the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau. Cain was also a founding member of the Tri-County Economic Development Commission. He supports education as a member of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, the Education Alliance of Northern Kentucky and the Partnership for School Reform. 

Cain stepped down as chairman of the Bank of Kentucky in 2012. “He’s been the heart and soul of this place,” said then-Bank of Kentucky CEO Bob Zapp, in a 2012 article in the Business Courier.

His sons, David Cain and John Cain paid tribute to their father on social media. "I am sad to let everyone know that my Father, Biz Cain, a great man, passed away this morning after a long journey," wrote John Cain, who now runs the Wiseway company. "Please keep my Mom, Jackie, in your thoughts and prayers."

"The world will just never be the same," David Cain wrote, noting his father's "very long fight from a terrible illness." "I know that he has touched many lives and many share in the sadness. He is truly (still) a great man and I hope, I too, from his teachings and guidance, will measure up to his greatness one day. I continue to adore and love my father just as I have told him so many, many times."

Rodney "Biz" Cain was 78.

-Staff report

Photo: Rodney "Biz" Cain in 1977 (via Kenton Co. Public Library)