04/09/2011 08:56 pm ET Updated Jun 09, 2011

Wisdom From a Wealth Wizard

Investment guru Pete Mahurin of Bowling Green is often described as "the Warren Buffett of Kentucky."

Tom Eblen and Al Smith compared Mahurin to Buffett in their newspaper columns. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who serves with Pete on the board of Gray Construction, has also used that description.

Mahurin was a high school physics teacher who got into the investment business and became one of Hilliard Lyons' top producers. He owns banks. He sits on the boards of major industrial companies. He made a great fortune but has spent all of his seventy-plus years in small town Kentucky.

I once emailed Pete about the Buffett connection, and he wrote, "I never took a business class in school and have read very few business books. Things by and about Buffett interest me. Books about high functioning people interest me. From Roosevelt (Teddy and FDR), Lincoln, House of Morgan to Johnny Unitas, things about how people achieve, fascinate me. People like Ervin Houchens, Bill Gatton, Owsley Brown as well as high functioning people the age of my 30 year old daughter, stimulate and motivate me."

Jim Gray passed along a quote from Pete, in which he said, "The best utilization of an extra bucket of feed is to give it to your best milk cow. In other words, do what you do best. Focus on what's important, nurture that service or product with resources, and improve, improve, improve."

Focus on high achievement and gifted people seems to be part of Pete's DNA. He puts his money where his mouth is.

He and his wife, Dixie, funded an endowed professorship in Gifted Studies at Western Kentucky University, one of the few such endowed professorships in the country. They stepped up to the plate again last year to allow the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children to move from the University of Winnipeg to Western's campus.

Like Warren Buffett, Pete is a lifelong Democrat and champion of the capitalist system.

In his Courier Journal piece, Al Smith quoted Mahurin as saying, "I consider the Democrats still a party of hope and opportunity. I was poor on a farm, but Democratic programs enabled me to slip in the side door, or kick in the back door, and attend this great party called capitalism. Today, my family and I can walk in the front door anywhere in the country."

Pete has the common sense of a man who grew up in Short Creek, (Grayson County), Kentucky and achieved higher than those from wealthy families and Ivy League pedigrees. What he learned from childhood was that one has to seize opportunity when it is front of him.

Jim Gray passed along a story in Pete's own words:

"When I was young, all the little communities in my area had a baseball team.

One Sunday afternoon someone on the other team hit a little pop fly that at least 3 of us were close enough to catch. Three of us ran toward it, and all stopped, waiting for another person to catch it. No one did, and the base runners ran around the bases. We lost.

Fifty years later I realized why that memory remained fresh and bitter. It was not that we lost, or that an error was made. Losing because I failed to act stuck with me forever while failures made attempting to execute faded away."

I've spent nearly 30 years around the financial business. I've known a lot of "paper gurus" who can talk a decent game but really don't practice what they preach.

Mahurin walks the walk with his numerous contributions to charity and encouraging other entrepreneurs. But his talk when he talks, Gray compares to "divine wisdom."

In a previous Huffington Post piece, I called Pete, "the person we should be moving our money to."

I would feel better about Pete running the economy than the Wall Street bankers who pushed us to the edge of disaster.

Don McNay, CLU, ChFC, MSFS, CSSC of Richmond, Kentucky, is an award-winning columnist, structured settlement consultant and Huffington Post Contributor.

He is the author of the book, Son of a Son of a Gambler: Winners, Losers and What to Do When You Win the Lottery. He has appeared on the CBS Evening News With Katie Couric along with numerous other television and radio programs.

You can read more about Don at

McNay has Master's Degrees from Vanderbilt and the American College and is in the Hall of Distinguished Alumni of Eastern Kentucky University.

McNay is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Round Table and has four professional designations in the financial services field