Aledia Tush of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters receives Kentucky’s top honor to add to her list of accomplishments
By Jane Bartnett
It’s official. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has proclaimed Aledia Hunt Tush, a former Kentucky resident and co-owner of Siesta Key’s CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, a Kentucky Colonel.
From now on, just call her Colonel Tush.
Dating back more than 200 years and considered to be the state of Kentucky’s highest honorary title and one that only a sitting governor can award, the title Kentucky Colonel is a lifetime award.
“It’s such a wonderful honor,” said Tush.
Nominations and recommendations can be submitted by both Kentucky colonels and members of the general public by completing a form detailing any active or previous service in a charitable organization or community service and/or any military service and a statement of the noteworthy deed that qualifies them.
Tush credits CB’s Saltwater Outfitters’ employee Rod Rhew, a former Kentucky native who retired to Sarasota, with making her dream of being a Kentucky Colonel come true. One day he brought former Kentucky state Sen. Kim L. Nelson to the store to meet her. Nelson nominated Tush for the award, and soon after an official letter arrived. Rhew then surprised Tush with a framed gubernatorial proclamation, complete with Beshear’s signature and the official state seal.
Her honor comes as the result of a combination of her business success and her volunteer roles in community and conservation groups.
By joining the ranks of the Kentucky Colonels, Tush is now in the company of many famous natives of her state. The list includes actor George Clooney; his journalist father Nick Clooney and his aunt, singer Rosemary Clooney; country singer Crystal Gayle; the late sportscaster and 1971 Miss America Phyllis George, who was also the state’s first lady; boxer Muhammad Ali; pioneer Daniel Boone; and Harlan Sanders, who created the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.
Distinguished non-Kentucky natives such as Princess Anne, and former United States presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, also share Tush’s honor.
Beyond be associated with such big names, Tush is most proud of the fact she is continuing her family’s tradition.
“My father, who purchased CB’s Saltwater Outfitters in 1976, was a Kentucky native and a Kentucky Colonel,” she said. “My sister Barbara Thompson is also a Kentucky Colonel and my husband, Lee Tush Jr., who is originally from Louisville, is also a Kentucky Colonel.”
Raised a short distance from the Kentucky border in the small Appalachian town of Grundy, Virginia, Tush attended and graduated Kentucky’s Morehead State University. After college, she began her career at a Louisville, Kentucky bank. The state remains near and dear to her heart.
This month, Tush is shifting her focus to winning the 92nd annual Sarasota Tarpon Tournament. If successful, it will be her fourth time winning the prestigious event. She is one of the few anglers in the world to have won the tournament three times.
“There are about 120 to 150 contestants, and very few women,” Tush said of the tournament. “They’re big fish and it’s not easy! I fought one for over three hours. Winning that contest was one of my biggest personal achievements.”
The 2022 tournament began May 7 and will conclude June 12.
When she’s not winning fishing tournaments, collecting honors and running a successful business, Tush plays an active role in the sport-fishing industry. A member of the International Women’s Fishing Association, Tush served on the board of the American Sport Fishing Association. She was nominated by her fellow constituents from the tackle industry.
In the Siesta Key and Sarasota region, Tush is active in the Coastal Conservation Association’s state and Sarasota chapters. She also served on the board of directors of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce for 15 years and as a board member of Visit Sarasota, which is Sarasota County’s tourism arm.
“It’s very important to give back,” she said. “I enjoy staying involved.”
Today, CB’s Saltwater Outfitters is a family business that involves three generations. Aledia Tush and her husband, Lee, run it along with their son, Mason. She has passed along her commitment to community to her son who recently served as the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors chairman.
“I’ve always encouraged him to become involved,” said Tush.