Residents remember ‘Kojack,’ the ‘beloved ambassador of Lincoln County’

Kojack’s real name was Kenny Hambright to those who knew him best and he would walk all over town, stopping into different shops just to say hi.
People all around town knew him for friendly personality and his involvement with the Lincolnton High School football team and band.
Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 9:13 PM EDT
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LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Many people in Lincoln County are remembering a man who they say was a staple in the community.

Most simply knew him as “Kojack,” someone who would always greet you with a smile and did his best to make you feel welcome.

He was also a rabid high school football fan. This week, Kojack died of natural causes.

He was a person that no matter where you go in this town, everybody knew who he was. And if a man’s wealth comes down to how many friends he had, Kojack was a rich man.

At Tinsley’s Barber and Beauty Salon, there’s always a new customer waiting in the wings for that stylish new look. Short or long, they can handle just about anything. But the one thing they’re having trouble with is that one customer who won’t be coming back.

“Everybody loved him,” owner Thomas Tinsley said.

Tinsley would see Kojack once a week to trim up his look. Medium fade if you please. He says he’s known this staple of the community for 40 years and can’t believe he’s gone.

“We’ve bonded and we’ve been together for so long it’s hard. He’s going to be missed,” Tinsley said.

And that sentiment can be found everywhere in Lincolnton.

“He was the ambassador of Lincoln County,” Tony Jenkins said.

Jenkins knew Kojack for many years and received many so-called tickets from him. Tickets the ambassador of Lincoln County would hand out to residents in a creative way to get the funds for things he needed. He even gave one to a new State Highway Patrol Trooper.

“Kojack said that don’t matter, here’s your ticket,” Jenkins said.

Kojack’s real name was Kenny Hambright to those who knew him best and he would walk all over town, stopping into different shops just to say hi.

Angie Grier is a third-generation restauranteur who runs the City Lunch Café in the center of town. She says Hambright would come in most days for a bite to eat, and light up the room.

“Probably the most intriguing is he remembered everybody’s name,” Grier said. “Even when we were in high school growing up he still remembered your name.”

But Kojack’s love was football, especially at Lincolnton High. He would help coach games, draft plays and even accompany the team when they had away games. The principal of the school grew up in the eighties and remembers Kojack even from back then.

“It’s going to be a big loss when we look out there on Friday nights and he’s not around in his black and gold supporting the wolves,” principal Scott H. Carpenter said.

The town is certainly planning a major tribute to Kojack. Not only will there be a large funeral, but he’ll also be driven around the football field before being loaded into a firetruck which will take him to his final resting spot.

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