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Remembering Tennessee Performance Boater Jeff Ketchum

A few days back, the performance boat community lost one of its faithful members in an off road vehicle accident. Jeff Ketchum, 39, of Arlington, Tenn., passed away on Friday, March 27 from injuries sustained after crashing the side-by-side UTV he was driving by himself.

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Tennessee’s Jeff Ketchum is going to be missed by many. Photo by Kevin Johns/Instant Memories Photography


A regular at poker runs in Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana and beyond, Ketchum owned a Fountain Powerboats 35 Lightning powered by twin 525-hp Mercury Racing engines. Ketchum, who was preceded in death by his grandparents, Olen McElroy; and Grady and Mavis Ketchum, is survived by his parents, Terrell and Susan Ketchum; his brother, Jonathan G. Ketchum (Kelly); his nieces, Lauren and Allison Ketchum; grandmother, Lorene McElroy; and his aunts, uncles, cousins and a host of many friends.

“Jeff was such a great guy, he would do anything for anyone,” said Reed Johnson, who met Ketchum more than 10 years ago and became good friends boating together on Tennessee’s Pickwick Lake. “Jeff had a love for everything speed related—fast boats, fast cars, anything performance oriented really. We boated together and went off-roading together. He was everyone’s best friend on the water, too, because he never left anyone stranded. He’d be right there beside you if you weren’t running, trying to figure out how to get you going again.”

Check out the slideshow above for a few more images of Ketchum.

Johnson said because of the COVID-19 pandemic that Ketchum’s family held an intimate private service today and that a celebration of life will be held at a later date likely on Lake Pickwick.

“Something is going to be organized for a later date for sure, a celebration that Jeff would be proud of,” Johnson added. “He represented the boating lifestyle we all love so well. I mean he loved the poker runs on Lake Cumberland and everywhere around Tennessee. The Tickfaw 200 was one of his favorites. He was bummed when they cancelled that this year.”

Justin Lucas, who organizes the Lake Cumberland Thunder Run in June, said he didn’t know Ketchum well, but that his interactions with him were pleasant.

“Everyone I know who knew Jeff well, loved him,” Lucas said. “It’s definitely a big loss among our tight-knit boating community. We’ll definitely do something to recognize him at the run this year.”

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