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2007-03-08 Interview with Nancy Lea Owen, March 8, 2007 CC001:2008OH012CC26 01:14:18 History of Kentucky's Community Colleges Oral History Project Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries Elizabethtown Community and Technical College Nancy Lea Owen; interviewee Adina O'Hara; interviewer 2008OH012_CC26_Owen 1:|6(1)|23(3)|34(10)|46(2)|61(14)|77(1)|88(15)|104(14)|118(9)|135(9)|157(5)|168(12)|187(12)|200(11)|213(2)|224(10)|237(10)|261(5)|285(13)|297(9)|310(7)|324(1)|341(8)|359(1)|378(2)|388(6)|409(4)|434(8)|448(6)|469(11)|499(4)|516(6)|540(6)|559(3)|578(2)|603(5)|627(13)|649(1)|669(6)|691(3)|716(11)|742(7)|762(7)|789(2)|802(2)|817(12)|847(3)|864(2)|879(5)|897(4)|910(8)|931(2)|958(7)|972(8)|988(5)|1007(1)|1019(2)|1030(2)|1047(5)|1068(5)|1086(7)|1118(2)|1149(11)|1161(6)|1172(12)|1195(5)|1216(9)|1241(9)|1257(3)|1279(1)|1290(8)|1308(2)|1330(8)|1356(1) audiotrans CommuColl interview O'HARA: This is an interview with Nancy Lea Owen at her home in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, conducted by Adina O'Hara for the Community College Oral History Project. Ms. Owen, the demand for higher education in Hardin County resulted in the legislation of a community college in Elizabethtown in 1961. As a result, Elizabethtown Community College became a part of the University of Kentucky Community College System. Because your husband was the first president of Elizabethtown Community College, you can explain the growth of the community college from his standpoint. OWEN: Oh, I don't know if I can do that. I'll try. Well -- O'HARA: You can start with the first story. OWEN: I think that when we came -- the first class we had -- did we have 30-something students? You could find that out. I can't remember how many students we had, but from the very first it just took off because there were so many students that could not afford to go to Lexington to go to the University of Kentucky, who could live at home and commute and who were just really, really wanting an education but couldn't afford it because they couldn't go to Lexington and -- or Bowling Green, even, and live in a dormitory and do all that. But they could live at home and they could commute to the community college, and so they -- so we -- it just took off right at first, like a -- you know, a ball of fire. And it was wonderful. And so he stayed as long as they'd let him. And then perhaps you don't know this, after he retired -- they had a rule that he had to retire at a certain age, and so he retired. And then they asked him if he would go to Somerset and be the interim president down there, and he sort of commuted. He would go down there every Monday and come back every Friday. And he was the president down there for over two years. That's how long the interim lasted. And so that happened also. But he was the best. But anyway, that's the way it happened, and we had this one little building, little plastic building, that nobody was real happy about. I'm sorry, I apologize to the original architects, but I think they had a different sensibility than was needed here in the -- out here where the students really needed some bricks and mortar. And they were more like -- they were from -- perhaps they were from -- I don't know where they were from, but they had these more artistic sensibilities. So we had this little plastic building, and it just didn't work. They had plastic panels that were moveable, and they could move the classrooms around (laughing). And they were brilliant colors, all different colors. And it was quite interesting. It was interesting, if nothing else, when we first came. And my husband is the kind of person that, you know, if you were to sit down a pile of mud in front of him, he would make the best use of it he could (laughing). So he made the best use of it he could. And I remember that he didn't have any office furniture. And so they said, "Well, there's a warehouse in Frankfort, and you can go over there and get anything you want out of there." O'HARA: Oh, really? OWEN: So he went over to Frankfort, and he got this old beat-up desk, you know, those old desks that have a little place on it for a typewriter that's a little lower than the rest of the desk, over to the side and a little bit lower, like a little shelf for the typewriter. And it had -- he had that, and then he got these chairs, these old oak chairs that you roll around. And he got those, and he made use of the old -- he got a sofa from over there, just different office furniture that he went over to Frankfort and selected out of the old warehouse over there and put in his office until they could get him some office furniture. It really wasn't quite done when we got here. His office was not furnished. O'HARA: Now, what year did -- when did you all arrive? And what was your first impression? Would you share that with us? OWEN: Well, we arrived in '63, in the fall of 63. And my first impression was less than -- what shall I say? I had come from Atlanta, (laughing) and I was born and raised in Atlanta. And for me to come to a town of 8,000, it was then, about -- between 8,000 and 9,000, Elizabethtown was then, was sort of a shock -- culture shock to me. Now, my husband was born and raised in the country, and he was not -- it was just right up his alley, but to me it was a little sort of culture shock. We were living in Atlanta when we moved here. He was working there when we moved here. And so -- but my first impression of the one building, the plastic building we called it -- we called it the plastic building because the walls were all plastic, and they had -- they were plastic panels, and they had, here and there, sort of like, hit or miss, red, blue, and yellow panels that were stuck in to make them, I guess, more attractive or at least made you sort of -- gave you a little turn, a little -- at least you looked at them, you noticed them, that's what I can say. And so anyway, we called it the plastic building. But we were a little bit taken back when we saw this one bare plastic building sitting up on this bare hill, no landscaping, dirt all around. But my husband was a visionary, he was a visionary in everything he did, not only in the building but in everything he did. He was a visionary, and so he just -- and you know, we were in a hotel because the house that they'd rented for us was not ready. They had rented a little house for us, and it wasn't ready, and so we were staying in a hotel. So I said, "I'm going back to the hotel, and as soon as I can, either you can take me back to Atlanta in the car or I get on the plane, whichever you want me to do. I'm not staying here." (Laughing) O'HARA: And you're here. (Laughing) OWEN: I've been here 40 years (laughing). And so my husband, just like he always did, he just -- you know, he didn't get excited or anything, he said, "Okay." And he knew I'd get over myself, (laughing) which I did, thank goodness, because if I were still in Atlanta I would probably be in the loony bin now because it's so crazy in Atlanta now. But anyway, that was what we first encountered when we first came. And it was quite -- it was culture shock for me. But he was very happy, and he was not happy in his work in Atlanta. And he was looking around, and when he came up here the first time -- he came up here by himself to look at the job -- and when he came home, he had this look on his face. And I said, "You took that job, didn't you?" He didn't say a word. I said, "You took that job, didn't you?" He said, "Well now, you've got to go up with me. We've got to go up." And he kind of hedged around. I said, "You took the job, didn't you?" And he said, "No, I didn't really take -- no, I really didn't." And he wouldn't have done it without me seeing first, but he really wanted it, I could tell. So when we came up and looked it over, and it was okay and we took it. That was '63. So now it's been 40 -- it's been over 40 years. O'HARA: Well, in October, speaking of the facility -- of the building, the plastic building, I did a little research in my dissertation, and I found some letters showing that in October of 1962 -- now, correct me if I'm wrong -- the building was already in existence when you guys first came. OWEN: Yes. O'HARA: So you could -- you had the opportunity to build the rest of the campus. You created all of that. But evidently, originally the state had set aside a much larger sum of money for -- or had expected a much larger bond issue of $679,000 for the construction of a community college in Elizabethtown. And that was in 1962. But between 1962 and 19- -- and the build- -- the actual opening of the school, there was a lot of disagreement between UK and the state over who was going to finance the building of all the community colleges, and Elizabethtown was the first priority. So -- OWEN: Well, perhaps that was -- was that because of the North Central Education Foundation? O'HARA: I don't know. I didn't think it was -- had to do with a particular -- what I got was they -- there was -- what I got was that UK was saying, "Well, you know, this was legislated, so they should fund it." And -- OWEN: Why do you think Elizabethtown was the priority -- the first -- O'HARA: Because their legislation went through in 1961 for Elizabethtown, before the Community College System went through in 1962. So Elizabethtown was the first new campus to be built because of the -- because of Jim Collier and Walter "Dee" Huddleston getting the legislation through. OWEN: Okay. Well now, you know about the North Central -- O'HARA: Please tell us about that. OWEN: -- Education Foundation. They formed a citizens committee, is what is it here, that just formed. And Jim Collier's -- you know, was the head of that forever. And well, you know, I'm sure that different people -- but I always associate it with Jim. But it's become an entity all its own now, and it, you know, operates all its own. But it was to raise money and support the -- outside of tax money, to support the college in any way. They are the people who raised the money to buy all that property out there that the college sits on. And they are the people who gave the library land to the city for the library. The land for the library was originally college property. I don't know the exact -- all the little, you know, intricate details, but I'm sure that they either leased it for 99 years -- if that's still done -- or they just gave it outright to the city to build the new library on. But that was college property that the new library is on. We have a new -- when I say new, it's like within five years we've had a new library built. So -- but the North Central Education Foundation was the driving force to get people and money interested in this community college here when it began to gather steam. O'HARA: And they raised the money. It was common for, like, Elizabethtown and a couple of other communities, they raised the money to buy the land and they paid for it. I mean, that's a major initiative. OWEN: And I just wondered if that had anything to do with the -- Elizabethtown being priority number one. O'HARA: I think so. I think it did. I think it had a lot to do with it, because of the community's interest and persistence. And you know, they went and appealed, and they got the first legislation through. So I do, I think it made a huge difference. OWEN: You know, we have -- when I first came -- well you know, my mother was born and raised in a place called Conyers, which is now a part of Atlanta, but then it was a long way from Atlanta, and there are little cities around it now that I was familiar with. But when we first came to Elizabethtown, there were a lot of chil- -- students who came here from all of these surrounding towns, the ones I was telling you about who couldn't afford to go to UK. And I thought some of the names of those towns were so funny. And I'm thinking -- and I was really -- by the time I really got on board, which was, like, about two months later, (laughing) after I thought, well, I really need to get behind this man. And of course, I did, I always have. But anyway -- and I'm -- you know, I would say -- I would go to the students and say, "Well, where are you from?" "Well, I'm from Franklin Crossroads." "Oh, okay." ----------(??) "Where are you from?" "I'm from Custer." All these little funny towns around, I thought were -- had funny names. I might think of a really funny one. I can't think of -- let me see, there's one not far down the road. Well, there's Sonora. I thought that was -- that's an Indian name, they told me. I had never heard that in connection with Indians. Garfield (laughing) ----------(??), you know, just funny names. And then I'm thinking, all these kids couldn't go to UK, and they couldn't go to Bowling Green because they couldn't afford it. And here they can go back and forth, and they can come. And I think that -- my husband and I talked about that a lot. We would talk about that at night a lot about what -- how important the work here was. O'HARA: It was very critical, very critical. And like you said, Jim Collier foresaw this back in the 1950s. And what was interesting is, in my talks with Jim Collier and Walter "Dee" Huddleston, they had petitioned for a college in Elizabethtown, and finally the legislation went through in 1961. But they did not know what type of a college it was going to be, that it was going to be a community college, because they weren't familiar with that -- that was a new -- the community college was new in the 1960s. It was a new concept. So they thought about it as being a four-year college initially, because they weren't aware of this concept of a two-year college. And just like you said, they were -- they knew the needs of the local community and that the children couldn't afford to go off to UK and Bowling Green, and they needed their own college here. And I was wondering, once the legislation went through that created the Community College System in 1962 and the building was open, when you all -- you and your husband arrived, was there ever any talk again about creating it into a four- year institution? OWEN: Yes, yes, there was. Yes. I think a lot of people hoped that it would segue, you might say, into a four-year, but my husband was not -- of course, he would have gone along with whatever the -- you know, but he was not -- he thought that -- he was not really for that. Yes, there was some talk about that. There was not a lot, though, it was not a lot. It was -- you know, because a lot of the kids would stop at two years, you know. And people would say, "Well, we need to make it four, because peo- -- because, look, they can commute for four years from their homes. They can live at home for four years and commute." But I really don't know what stopped it or why it just sort of died down. It probably just died down -- died of a natural death, I don't know. But there was some to talk of that. Yeah, I remember that. And you know there was already a two-year -- sort of a two-year thing set up at Fort Knox, did you know that? O'HARA: Yes, Fort Knox -- it was known as Fort Knox Community College for its short existence. I guess it wasn't that short of an existence. OWEN: I think it was -- no, I think it was -- have you talked to Jim Jones? O'HARA: No, no. I don't recognize that name. OWEN: He was the man who was the head of that. O'HARA: I did talk to a Sandra Gary. I've interviewed her -- she's at UK now -- and she worked there as an administrator, you know, in different roles. OWEN: At Fort Knox? O'HARA: At Fort Knox. And she was really informative, but I'm going to ask her about Jim Jones. OWEN: Well now, he's here. He's still playing golf. O'HARA: Oh! So he's local. I could -- OWEN: Oh, yeah. He lived here -- he's lived here -- can we cut this off just a minute? O'HARA: Sure, yeah. O'HARA: Ms. Owen, some community colleges develop relationships with the state's regional universities, like Bowling Green, for example -- or Western Kentucky, and Bowling Green would be the closest one to you all. Was there any relationship between Elizabethtown Community College and, say, Western during your tenure -- your husband's tenure? OWEN: You know, I couldn't answer that. I'm sure there was, I'm sure there was. O'HARA: ----------(??) transfer. OWEN: Oh, I'm sure there were a lot of transfers, but -- and I'm sure that -- you know, that Jimmy -- if a student wanted to go there, he would do anything in the world to help him get there, you know, I'm sure of it. I mean, if he were a student at the college and he would come in and say, "Dr. Owen, I need to -- I need some, you know, help in getting this," he would do whatever he could, I'm sure. And as far as him having -- as far as Jimmy having any relation with the administrative people there, I don't know, but I imagine that he did because I imagine that it was necessary. But I do know he had, you know, friends at UK that he was in contact with. I'll tell you a story. I had been using a mechanic that was out in the country. And he wasn't -- nothing is very far here, compared to what I used to -- but he was about four miles out in the country, so it was a good piece to get my neighbor to take -- to go with me to our friend to take my car out there and leave it for a day, you know, and then take me back out there to get my car and that. And so this other friend that I had said, "Why, I use this man down on Mulberry. Why don't you -- not far from the place where you are, why don't you use him? He's really good." So I went down there and I said, "Could you, you know, start looking after my car?" Because I look after my car really well. And he said, "Okay." And so he didn't say anything particularly to me, and so he started looking after my car. And I'd taken it down there two or three times. And so the brakes failed, and I took it down there. And he said -- I went to get it, and he said, "Ms. Owen," he said, "I can't find a thing wrong with your brakes. I have run them through every test there is go to through." So I got my credit card out to pay him, and he said, "You're not going to pay me." And I said, "What?" He said, "No." He said, "All Dr. Owen did for me." I said, "What are you talking about?" And he said, "Well," he said, "I went to the college." Now, this happens to me at least once a month or twice, somebody that I -- from outer space that knew my husband. But this particular -- he said, "I went to the college." And he said, "I was taking engineering. A friend of mine, my best friend, and I were taking the same course. We went to take the same course." And he said, "We had certain requirements that we were supposed to take. And when we went to transfer to UK, they said that they couldn't give us credit for this one course because it was no longer required in that curriculum, and so we wouldn't get credit for it. So we went to see Dr. Owen." And said, "Dr. Owen stopped what he was doing right on the spot." And said, "He called UK right there." And said, "He talked to somebody in the engineering school." And said, "He argued with them over the phone." Said, "He told them that we were going to get credit for that if he had to come over there." Said, "He wasn't ugly, but he just made it very clear that he would -- that whatever he had to do, if he had to talk to Dr. Wethington, he was going to talk to him, but we were going to get credit because we had gone to class and we had gotten the grade and we had taken all the exams, and we had -- we were going to get credit for that. And he didn't care how they put it, but we were going to -- ." And he said, "I've never forgotten it." And he said, "I didn't do anything for your car, I didn't repair your car, and I'm not going to charge you anything for it." O'HARA: Wow! That speaks volumes, how much your husband cared about students. OWEN: And I went -- when I went to do this -- to get this new countertops put on, I went out to -- on the highway to a tile place to look at tile, thought maybe I wanted tile. And I walked in, and there was this big tall guy. He looked to be about 50 or something. And I said, "Hello, I'm Nancy Lea Owen." I do this all the time. "I know who you are." I said, "You do?" See, my kids -- I go -- . "I guess you went to school with my kids." That's what I always think immediately, you know, that he is one of my kids' friends that I don't remember. And he said, "No." He said, "I went to school with -- at -- when your husband was out there. And what a fine man he was. He was the finest man I ever knew." That happens to me all the time. I mean, like a tile store and the mechanic, it's just -- O'HARA: What an impact that -- the community college and your husband, your husband's role. Now, how many years was he -- OWEN: He was there for 27 years, and he would have been there a lot more. They made him stop at 62. O'HARA: There was someone else I interviewed who had to retire, that was forced to retire like that too. OWEN: I think they've upped the retirement age now. I know they have, I know they have. I think it's 67 now. O'HARA: That sounds about right. OWEN: I read something about it. Anyway, that was just a little aside. O'HARA: While we know the outcomes of those early decades at Elizabethtown Community College, because we -- I see this big huge campus now, where it grew from the one plastic building, and your husband built so much more. So we do not know the internal dynamics of growth and change. What programs does Elizabethtown Community College offer that other community colleges did not? Was there unique programs that the local area wanted? OWEN: The nursing program was the -- my husband's pet. Now, he would deny he had a pet. But he had a pet; it was the nursing program. And he started the nursing program before anybody else had one, and it's been very successful. And it's been -- it's just -- we've had this regional hospital here. And he saw the need, and he just set up this nursing program. And it was just -- it was one thing that he was really enthusiastic about. And really -- now, I don't know about any of the others, but I do know that the nursing program was his baby. He really took that on. And Martha Hill could tell you. She's -- Martha's got Parkinson's, and she's in very bad shape. She was his -- she was one of the first people he hired. But she would be happy to talk with you too. I don't know how you're going to get around to all these people if you go. But Martha, she's a dear sweetheart, she's an angel. And she was head of the school for a while. But she's got Parkinson's, and she's got real bad arthritis, but she's still with it mentally. O'HARA: Maybe I'll have the opportunity to talk to her too. So did you say that she was also in charge of the college at one point? OWEN: No, she was in charge of the nursing program. O'HARA: The nursing program? OWEN: Yeah. O'HARA: Yeah, that would be interesting, I think, to talk to her about that since she was one of his very first hires. Now, it was fall of '63 when you all arrived. Did classes start immediately? OWEN: Yeah. Well, wait a minute. Yeah. No. This is terrible. Did they start immediately? O'HARA: Well, I was looking through a lot of paperwork, and it appears they tried to open in -- or you know, they wanted to open in '63, but I think the equipment wasn't all set up yet. OWEN: I don't think we opened in '63. I don't think we opened even until the fall of '64. O'HARA: That sounds about like what I've seen in the notes. OWEN: But listen, I'll tell you somebody you really need to talk to, and that's Linda Mayhew. And she's still there. She -- they fuss over who was hired first. Linda and BJ, his librarian, will fuss over who he hired first (laughing). O'HARA: They're so proud of it. OWEN: And BJ has retired, but Linda is still there, and she's the one that called him "Boss." O'HARA: And what area -- where would I find -- OWEN: Math, she's in math. O'HARA: In math, math faculty member? OWEN: Yeah, she's still -- and when she came there, she was real young, and she was just real, real -- she'll kill me for this, don't you repeat this. Don't let this -- she was really -- she was a real hot number, she was really -- and she was just good-looking. And she was -- but she -- a terrific math teacher, brilliant woman. And (laughing) I think she and my husband butted heads many times, but like she said, you know, at his celebration service -- it was so sweet -- she had this whole thing written out that she was going to say, and she was going to say all of it. And she had a red rose, and when she got through, she brought me the rose. It was so sweet. But anyway, she's the one that said, "When Boss said that, you just needn't talk anymore." O'HARA: He knew how to make a decision and stick with it. OWEN: His mind was made up, and you weren't going to change it. But anyway -- but she and BJ fuss all the time still about who was hired first. O'HARA: Now, what's BJ's name? OWEN: Betty Jane McFarland. O'HARA: Betty Jane McFarland? OWEN: Yeah. And she was the librarian forever and ever and ever, I don't even know. Now, Sharon, who lives two doors down the street, she will tell you that Dr. Owen is the reason she's where she is today. She was his secretary. O'HARA: Oh, really? OWEN: For a while, yeah. Martha Moore was his first secretary. And she was hired by -- who was she hired by? Somebody -- she was in place when we got here. I can't even think who she was hired by, whether it was Jim or -- maybe it was Jim Jones out at -- maybe she transferred from Ft. Knox over, or something like that. But anyway, she was sort of a dour kind of a -- not a -- you know, she was just sort of a -- I don't know what I can tell you. But anyway -- so then I believe after that was when he hired Sharon. O'HARA: Sharon was a better fit? OWEN: I believe Sharon was his second, and she was going to school, trying to go to school and work too. She lived on a big farm over in Larue County. She was an only child. And so anyway, he encouraged her -- after she got her associate degree, he encouraged her to go on and get her four-year degree, and so now she's an administrator at the college. O'HARA: Oh, really? What's her last name? Sharon? OWEN: Sharon Spratt. O'HARA: Spratt? OWEN: S-P-R-A-T-T. O'HARA: Great. OWEN: Lovely, darling girl, and she loved my husband. O'HARA: Wow! OWEN: I can't even tell you. O'HARA: See, you remember names. You're remembering all this stuff. You're better with names than I am. OWEN: Well you know, when you're so close to those people, you remember those people. But she -- and then Harry Lee taught -- he was the one - - well, he and Barbara are still dear, close friends of mine. And they -- Barbara called me last night and said, "We're back." They go off on trips, and they'll stay two or thee weeks, and they'll come back, and they'll say, "Is there anything you need?" They look after me like I'm their own. They're just wonderful. And he taught for Jimmy, that's the only connection we have is that. He spoke -- I had -- I asked Jim Collier -- do you know Jim Collier is 87 years old? O'HARA: Oh, my goodness. I had no clue. He's still working. That's where I met him, at his office. OWEN: Eighty-seven years old, and I didn't know that. I knew he was in his 80s, but his daughter -- okay, I know this is irrelevant, but let me right quick -- I sing with a group in Louisville called the Sweet Adelines. And his daughter sings, and I tried to get her to come and sing with us. So I got friendly with her. And so I was down on Saturday watching a rehearsal of the Hardin County Playhouse, because another friend of mine is in the latest production and she wanted me to come down there. So anyway, so Sarah came in, his daughter came in. And she was saying, you know, that she -- she's building a house next to her dad's, but that he was so far out in the country, you know, she wants to be out there as quick as she can to be with him, because he's getting so old. And I said, "Well, how old is Jim, anyway?" "Well, he's 87." I said, "He's not!" O'HARA: He doesn't look it at all. I mean, I can't believe -- yeah, he was ----------(??). OWEN: Oh, he doesn't -- you know, he walks like he's -- O'HARA: I thought he was in his 50s or 60s. OWEN: Sixties or maybe 70s, yeah. O'HARA: But that's -- yeah, that's amazing. Yeah, he stays so actively involved. OWEN: Anyway, 87. But anyway, where were we? We were talking about Sharon, weren't we? O'HARA: Yeah, we were -- about her being the first secretary. And I'll get all these names and numbers from you after -- when we're done with the interview. Yeah. Or some of them that still work there, I might be able to find them on the Internet. OWEN: Well, Sharon is -- she lives two doors down. The guy who followed Jimmy -- I think Jimmy -- Chuck Stebbins, have you heard his name? O'HARA: I've heard his name. Isn't he -- OWEN: He followed Jimmy in the presidency. O'HARA: Okay. I've just heard the name. OWEN: He was -- Jimmy hired him, Jimmy hired him. And Chuck was dear and sweet, dear and sweet, but he -- all the input I would get -- and people would come to me, the faculty, and tell me, "Nancy Lea, he can't make a decision. You never know what to do. He never tells you what -- he'll tell one person this, and then if this person over here comes and says they want this, he will tell them okay. He just doesn't -- he can't make a decision." Then he went up to Covington to that one up there as the president. Isn't he the president up there? O'HARA: Well, I did try to contact him for an interview, and he had already left. And I believe he went to New York. I don't know if it was a job or -- OWEN: We were just floored when we heard. Everybody was just (whispering), "He got another presidency." I think they were just kind of -- they didn't know what to do with Chuck because he was a -- O'HARA: Good guy? OWEN: Just a sweetheart, but he just couldn't -- he just didn't have any kind of administrative skills at all. So he bought this house down the street, and he lived there. Sweet man, just really sweet. His wife was a decorator, and she wasn't interested in the college at all. And that's okay. She had her thing, her own thing. And I liked Janice, but very few people liked her. You know, it was like it was -- I don't know, it just wasn't a good fit. And then -- O'HARA: Yeah, sometimes they aren't good fits. OWEN: For some reason, they put him up at -- I don't know, up at Covington. O'HARA: I'm not sure. My next question has to do with -- there are area technology centers across Kentucky that offer technical diploma and certificate-level programs. During your husband's tenure at Elizabethtown Community College, was there any coordination with the area technology centers? OWEN: With this one here there was. O'HARA: With this one here, yes. OWEN: Yes. O'HARA: Some communities didn't -- OWEN: Some of the students were taking courses at both places. O'HARA: Oh, really? OWEN: Yeah. O'HARA: So there was a good arrangement? OWEN: I think -- I'm almost positive I'm right about that. I'm almost positive I am right about that. O'HARA: Well, that statement that you showed me earlier said something about, I think, technical courses or that there were -- you know, embraced the idea that there's both transfer courses and -- OWEN: Yeah, I think that some were taking at both places. I would almost swear to that being -- but you know. O'HARA: Well, that's good, that's good. So there was real cooperation. OWEN: If a student came in and said he wanted to do this, if it were at all possible for him to work it out, you know, and he was trying hard, if he -- now, if he were just goofing off and going to class and sleeping and whatever, then my husband would give him -- well, go to Dr. Brown. Go to the veterinarian. And he -- I mean, he will go on about my husband. He said that he got into college and he didn't do a thing but mess around and fail. Every course he took, he failed, and he should have never have been let back in. He said, "And your husband let me back in. And I should have never -- nobody else would have let me back in." O'HARA: Now he's a veterinarian? OWEN: And now he is a veterinarian. O'HARA: That's a hard occupation to get into. OWEN: And he's said, "Nobody else would have treated me like -- ." He said, "Your husband is the reason I'm here." He said, "Nobody else would have let me in." And he -- you can't even -- you know, and when my son was here, my -- I call him my California son. I have a son who lives in California. And he was here the last time I had to take the cat up there. So we kind of surprised him, because he and my -- that son really got along well, because that son's really into animals a lot. And so we went in the little room, and so Dr. Brown came in and -- "Why, Patrick!" And they were just hugging and carrying on, you know. And he said, "Oh, you look so much like your dad." He said, "Now, the main thing is to act like him." (Pause) And I'm glad to say he does. O'HARA: Oh, that's great. OWEN: You know, it's just -- but he said he wouldn't be where he is if it weren't for Dr. Owen. Well, Sharon says the same thing. O'HARA: Isn't that amazing? OWEN: Yeah. O'HARA: All the people that he touched. And you, you supported him. OWEN: Well, I don't know what you would do if you had him. He was the best man on earth. O'HARA: Like a sweetheart. My next question has to do with, some community colleges offered classes during the day and some offered them in the evening. Do you remember, did they offer traditional classes during the day or -- and/or at night? OWEN: I think Jimmy said -- and I think I'm right on this, I won't swear to this either. (Laughing) I could be just rambling like some old foolish woman, but I think that he said if you got six people together you could have a class any hour of the day or night. O'HARA: He was so flexible! OWEN: I think this is what he said. And somebody to teach it, you could have it. O'HARA: So he had no problem with night classes, then. Sounds like your husband was such a visionary that he didn't see any -- he wasn't threatened by, like, the area technology school, he worked with them. He wasn't stuck in a box. He could think outside the box, whatever it -- was needed for the students. OWEN: Yeah. Whatever he -- I'm almost positive that's right. If you could get six students together and somebody to teach them, you could have a class. O'HARA: That's great. How did that affect -- were there very many veterans? Now, with Fort Knox -- you mentioned Fort Knox earlier. Did they pretty much cover most of the veterans or did some still come down here? OWEN: No, I'm sure they didn't cover all, because when we started, see, we had a much more comprehensive program here. I think that we offered a whole lot more classes -- O'HARA: Oh, yeah. OWEN: -- than they had at Fort Knox. O'HARA: It was a bigger operation. OWEN: Yeah, I think that's right. I'm almost positive that's right. O'HARA: Well, it makes sense, yeah. OWEN: But I imagine that they did. Now, I can't say for sure, but I think that's right. O'HARA: Student activities over the years -- I've found during my interviews--people have told me about basketball programs, maybe only lasting a couple years, or soccer teams or interesting student activities, clubs that the students created that were unique to that school. Do you know about any -- OWEN: They had a basketball team out there, and they had a debate group. Oh, me. My husband before -- when we first were married he was a high school basketball, football, baseball coach. And so he coached them. He coached the basketball team one year. I can't remember who coached -- O'HARA: Here at Elizabethtown? OWEN: Yeah, at the college. O'HARA: Oh, neat. OWEN: Yeah, yeah. I can't remember -- O'HARA: Do you know who they played? Like, did they play the other community colleges? OWEN: Yeah, they played the community colleges, and they also played people like -- there's a college at Wilmore. O'HARA: Yes, Asbury. OWEN: Places like that, little colleges, little independent colleges. They played -- they would play places like that. O'HARA: Oh, how neat. OWEN: But they would have to, you know, schedule times to practice at the -- we had a building called the MRC. I don't what (laughing) -- I think it stood for Municipal Recreation Center, but I'm not sure. But anybody -- we knew it as MRC; it's gone now. It was down on Mulberry. And they would have to schedule times to practice (phone ringing in background) -- I'm not going to answer it. Oh, I should. My -- . (break in recording) They were having a time, you know, trying to find a place to rehearse -- to practice. I say rehearse because I'm used to rehearsing with my chorus. So they -- you know, it was just sort of hit or miss. It wasn't a real good -- and I know they had a debate team. Sharon could tell you more about that. She would know more about that because she went there in the early days. O'HARA: Do you know when they had basketball? Like, was it when you all first came? OWEN: Yeah, it was when this college first opened. Right away, they -- you know they wanted basketball. O'HARA: How long do you think it lasted? OWEN: Oh, it couldn't have lasted more than three or four years. It was very fly-by-night. O'HARA: But fun? OWEN: Yeah, but it was kind of fun. And it tickled my husband. He was all for it, because he was -- he loved sports. And he and a member of the board, a farmer named Bob Wade -- there was no Little League here. O'HARA: Really? OWEN: And down on some college property, Jimmy called up Bobby. He said, "Can you bring your tractor up here? And we're going to make some Little League fields." And Bob brought his tractor, and Jimmy marked them off, because he knew how they should be marked off. And they made the first Little League fields in Elizabethtown. O'HARA: How amazing. OWEN: And started the Little League program here, and now it's just enormous. O'HARA: All the things that you all brought to Elizabethtown. OWEN: It was him; it wasn't me. I just tagged along for the ride. He was the one -- he was the best person on earth. He was the best person on earth. There's not been any -- his mother -- I used to tease him and say, "You know, your mother's the best person on earth now. And when she dies, you're going to have to be -- you're going to be there." But yeah, and up where the library is, the water -- the college property was just washing away. It was just -- it was -- it's a hill, and it was just red clay dirt and just washing away. And he and I don't know how many people, I don't know who he got, Harry Lee can tell you this. But I don't know who he got, but he -- they ordered all these little seedlings, pine seedlings from Alabama. And he got out there with all these -- with these people and they planted these pine seedlings, and now they're 50 feet tall. O'HARA: They're gorgeous. OWEN: He wasn't afraid to -- he didn't mind doing stuff like that. In fact, he liked to do it, he liked to get out and do stuff. You know, he was -- in his last years he got Parkinson's and he couldn't move much, you know. It was bad, it was bad. But anyway -- I mean, he -- it didn't bother him. You know, I mean, I can think of several other guys who had the colleges around that wouldn't have done that on a bet. O'HARA: Yes. I mean, in fact -- the fact that he stayed so long speaks volumes, because I think it takes different leadership at different times in a community college or any college or organization. And the first leader has to be an innovator and a -- be along for the adventure, and be a creator and, you know, take ownership and design the campus. But if you have someone show up, like I think some of the other colleges found, that only stuck around a year or two, they wanted something that they just administrated, you know, were just the administrator of. But your husband was a visionary, and he wanted to pull it all together. OWEN: He was. He did. He wanted to make it the best that -- he did that in everything he did, though. He made -- he wanted to make -- he did -- he had -- we were in Alabama when he was coaching, he had championship teams. He was -- he wanted to do the best he could, and his children are all just like him. O'HARA: That's great. OWEN: Yeah. O'HARA: And what does Stanley Wallace say about Elizabethtown? OWEN: He just said, when they would send people from, is this what you're referring to? When they -- [End Side 1, Tape 1] [Begin Side 2, Tape 1] OWEN: -- in front of opening up the community college system, for our statewide community college system and so when other states would come to Kentucky to look over the community college systems to see how it was done, they would say, "Well, show us an example of your best community college." And they would always send them to Elizabethtown. They considered this one the best one, and it was, I'm sure. O'HARA: I would have loved to have spent a day here during your husband's tenure. OWEN: Yeah. O'HARA: Seeing the growth and development. OWEN: I was at a (laughing) -- I keep saying -- I keep going off on these. I shouldn't do that. But I was at a -- the Elks and the Shriners get together and have this big money-raiser every year. So I went last time, because it's for the Kosair Children's Hospital, you know, and they raise money and all. And so we sat across -- I went with friends, and we sat across the table from this little guy. He was real cute. I really enjoyed him, he and his wife. And they were just darling. And so anyway, he said he went to the college. I said, "Were you there when my husband was there?" And he said, "Oh, yeah." Said, "Oh, yeah. He knows -- he knew me." I said, "What does that mean?" And he said, "Oh, I was in there talking to him a lot." I said, "Was it like you went to the principal's office?" He said, "Well, I wouldn't exactly say that, but was kind of like that." (Laughing) Said -- but then he went on to say, "But he was a good man." You know, but you never know. You just meet people every day that were there at the college. And -- but they're getting fewer and far between. See, that was -- when did he retire? He retired in the '80s. Golly, it's been so long ago. O'HARA: But I can't imagine Elizabethtown without the college. OWEN: Oh, no. O'HARA: Can't imagine where it would be today. OWEN: Uh-huh. I can't either, I can't either. And I'm certain that it played a role in bringing these industries that are here. And I'm sure that "Dee," and Jim Collier too, but "Dee" particularly, "Dee" was a really, really smart politician. Everybody liked "Dee," and it's hard to get -- if you're a politician, it's hard to get everybody to like you. But most everybody liked "Dee." And he -- I'm sure that he was -- he had his eye on all the facets of the advantages of a community college. And it did bring in some industry in, I'm convinced of that. O'HARA: That brings us to my next question. For a local community, there were cultural and economic benefits -- you just talked about the economic benefits -- involved in community college development. Some of the community colleges promoted cultural activities by arranging for entertainers or lecturers to appear at the community colleges on a regular basis. Was there any type of these community outreach services or plays or different things for the community that were -- OWEN: We had what was called a -- what did we call it? Something Lecture Series. And we would bring in -- I can't remember bringing in plays, but I remember we brought in Tom Clark. O'HARA: Oh, that's great. OWEN: And we brought in Wendell Berry, Tom Archambeault, you know -- Jim Archambeault, do you know who that is? He makes those fantastic pictures of Kentucky in those big coffee-table books. O'HARA: Oh, wow. OWEN: If you've ever seen a big coffee-table book of pictures of Kentucky, Jim Archambeault. Just different people like that. It was not -- and then we brought in -- it seems to me we would bring in musicians, like trios and things like that, not big, you know, symphony orchestras or things like that. But we did -- what was that called, the College Lecture Series -- the College -- something and Lecture Series. O'HARA: That's neat. OWEN: Now, Camille Hill could tell you about that. She's the one, and she's still there (laughing) playing her -- O'HARA: Camille? OWEN: Camille taught on -- teaches on the faculty. She played at Jimmy's celebration service. She played violin, and a friend of mine played guitar. She could tell you all about that, yeah. And she has had a choir there, a chorus or-- I don't know what she calls it. What does she call it? She's had that there, and she has concerts. They have little concerts -- O'HARA: Okay, yeah. OWEN: -- all the time. So that was like an interior thing, but we did bring -- we had a regular thing going, and I cannot remember what it was called. O'HARA: What did she teach? OWEN: She teaches -- she taught -- O'HARA: Chorus and music? OWEN: Yeah, I guess you would say. Surely she didn't -- she didn't teach music. What did she teach? English. O'HARA: English. Oh, okay. OWEN: I believe she taught English. O'HARA: What is her last name? OWEN: Hill. Camille Hill, a darling women, just a precious women. Plays the violin, the piano, you know, whatever. And she -- my daughter and I wanted a special song played at Jimmy's service. And I have a friend who plays the guitar, has been playing for years. And so I asked Camille if she would play the violin, play that number -- that song. And poor Georgia Ann, she has to work real hard to play anything on the guitar, and I asked her if she would back Camille up. So they got together, and they worked real hard, and they played that. And it was really lovely at Jimmy's service. O'HARA: What a wonderful service. OWEN: Yeah, it was -- so anyway, Camille Hill has been there since the word go. She wasn't hired the first year, but I think -- and her husband teaches -- taught -- let's see, what did he teach? What did Bob teach? I think he taught English there. (Laughing) I can't remember what they all taught. I believe he taught English. O'HARA: Well, it sounds like there's a lot of a faculty that I could speak with. OWEN: Well, there's faculty who are still there, and there's faculty that are still around, you know, that are retired, that are -- now, one of the men, Perry Huccaby -- and I can't tell you what Perry teaches. But anyway, he sings in the local men's -- they have a local men's barbershop -- I'm real interested, because that's what I sing in, you know, in Louisville. My group is in Louisville, because there's no women's group here in town. But anyway, they have formed a men's barbershop group in town, and they are really good. And Perry sings with them, but he's retired. And well, they have a -- this is Thursday. Let's see, this is not -- every fourth Thursday they meet for a get-together. And I'm there -- sometimes I go with them and have lunch together. But anyway, there's still a bunch of them that are still -- Camille is still teaching, but I don't know what she teaches. I can't remember. Is it Bob that teaches English? I can't remember. Bob teaches English. What would Camille teach? Would she teach music, voice? She couldn't. No, we didn't have a music department. I don't know what she taught, but she taught. O'HARA: I can -- I'll figure it out; I'll look it up. I have one last question for you. OWEN: Okay. O'HARA: The relationship between the University of Kentucky and its community colleges was unique across the nation. You know, we talked about how other states were coming in to see how Kentucky's community colleges -- how great they were. What were the benefits and the drawbacks of ECC's relationship with UK? OWEN: Well, you know, I don't know if I can answer that. Jimmy thought that it was a distinct advantage to be associated with UK. And I think that the reason he -- I know that that's true. And I think that the reason he -- there's Frankie. I think that the reason he thought that was because he could call over there and get a student admitted if they needed to be. You know, they knew who we where or who he was. You know, I mean it wasn't just some person. I mean it was, "Oh, yeah." Well you know, he had a certain reputation at UK, you know, and so therefore he -- it meant a lot, if he needed something for a student, to call over there or to go over there or something. O'HARA: That relationship was built. OWEN: Yeah. And so I definitely know that he thought that it was best to be under the aegis of UK. I really -- if he were here, he could certainly tell you. He would be very eloquent about it, I'm sure. But you know, I really can't -- they had, you know, Stanley there sort of overlooking the whole thing. I can't imagine if somebody -- if one of the colleges got into trouble, I can't imagine how they would get into trouble, maybe financial trouble, maybe there was an advantage to having UK looking them over financially or holding the purse strings. Or would there be? I don't know. O'HARA: I'm not sure. I do know that especially in the early years many people have stated that UK provided the community colleges with stability, as far as making sure that they survived, financially and academically, because UK could ensure their academic quality, was one argument I heard. OWEN: I'm not sure I agree with that. I -- O'HARA: And it may not be true. That may just be an argument. OWEN: Academically, I think it would -- I think it was up to the local community college to ensure that each student was -- it's like it's in this paper, it's the faculty and the leadership at the local level that's going to ensure a student's academic -- don't you think? O'HARA: Yeah, I see what you mean. Was -- now, did UK -- did they approve all the curriculum? Or was the curriculum approved locally? OWEN: You know, I think that -- I think it's like Jimmy said. If you have six students and a teacher -- O'HARA: You can make it go. OWEN: You see? I mean -- O'HARA: It sounds like there was a lot more local control than I realized. OWEN: I think that there was -- but I think that they controlled it insofar as that if a student was going to transfer, like I told you the story about the mechanic, they had to have certain prerequisites to transfer to the engineering. In that way, that would be, yeah. But if they wanted -- if you wanted to have a class, and then I guess you could transfer that class as an elective to UK. O'HARA: As an option. OWEN: As an option. Or do they do that anymore? See, it's been so long since I was -- honey, do you know when I finished college? I mean, do you know when I started college? I was a baby. I was only three when I started (laughing). O'HARA: Three (laughing). OWEN: I started when I -- I started college in '43. I went back to my -- to Queens College, and they had never had an alumnus -- alumna my age come back there. O'HARA: And now it's so common. OWEN: Well, this was just two -- three years ago -- two years ago. Wait a minute, three years ago. They had never had an alumna from my class or anywhere near it come back there. They were so -- they went to find the president, and he was gone for the day, so they got the vice president out. They showed -- they gave us a tour of the campus, they gave us lunch in the cafeteria. You've never seen such -- if you could be said they spread the red carpet, they did. They said, "We've just never had an alumna from your decade come. We've never had one come." O'HARA: What an honor that, though. How neat. OWEN: Isn't that strange? O'HARA: Yeah, I would have assumed it was more common than that. OWEN: I went to Queens in 1943. O'HARA: And that was World War II. OWEN: I left there in '45 and went to Auburn, and finished Auburn in '47 and married in '47. Met him, in two weeks I knew he was the guy I wanted to marry. Well, I think really it was almost love at first sight, if you can call it that. We met and were married within four months. O'HARA: Wow. OWEN: And we were married for 54 years. O'HARA: When you know, you know. OWEN: And (laughing) anybody that can stay married to me for 54 years has got to be a saint, you've got to say that. O'HARA: You're too kind. OWEN: No, I mean it, that poor guy. O'HARA: I mean you're too harsh on yourself. You're -- I'm sure you were delightful. OWEN: No, he was the best, he was the best. Anyone will tell you, I mean any of those people I put down -- whose names you've got. I mean anybody on that faculty. He had one man that he hired that he couldn't get along with, that -- he just -- they just -- it was just -- he just -- I don't know what, and he had to fire him. O'HARA: So he got to hire whomever he wanted. Were they usually from the local community or were they -- OWEN: No, no, no, no. They were from everywhere. O'HARA: Oh, really? OWEN: Yes. O'HARA: Well, how did he get his faculty? Like, how did he advertise? OWEN: I don't know. I think he advertised through the academic papers. O'HARA: Papers? OWEN: I think that's what he did. O'HARA: That's how we do it these days. OWEN: I think that's the way he did it. O'HARA: Wow. OWEN: And I think that, you know, people would say, you know, they knew somebody that would was looking for -- why don't you come down -- or somebody was here, "Well, I've got a friend who's graduating this year from someplace." And I think that a lot of it was word of mouth. Now, a lot of them are Kentucky people, a lot were Kentucky people. And a lot were -- but some were not. But I -- you know, I think Jimmy -- I think he really tried to hire as many Kentucky people as he could. He has a very strong sense of place. You know, when we were -- wherever we were, he had a very strong sense of that place and the people that were there. ----------(??) And you know, it -- he's very for that place. And when you live in a place, then you should try to immerse yourself in that place and be for that place and all that. And so he probably - - if he found two people and everything was the same, he probably would hire the one from Kentucky over the one from some other place. O'HARA: He saw -- I'm sure it helped him succeed here, in that he was willing to embrace the community and immerse himself, as you say. I think that's very critical. OWEN: I'm sure he did. I'm sure that helped, because he certainly did. He was -- and he -- well, and you know, we had kids in school here. They were successful kids, and they were good kids, and they were -- and I was kind of out there doing stuff. So it was -- I guess we were maybe, probably, your ideal family for that situation at that time, you know. Now, Chuck, his wife -- he didn't have -- he had grown children who were gone. His wife was not interested. She was interested in her decorating business, and you know, it was just -- but he was -- according to everybody, he was just not -- he was just too weak, you know. My husband was a strong person. O'HARA: As a parent, all that he accomplished. OWEN: He really was, which was good, you know. O'HARA: You need that kind of leadership, especially at that critical beginning. I mean, that is so important. So how many buildings does the campus have approximately? OWEN: You know, I don't know. Isn't that awful? I think it's in the 20s. O'HARA: Oh, my goodness. OWEN: Seems to me like it's 21, but I wont swear to that. I may be exaggerating, I don't know. But it seems to me like it's -- but when he left, there weren't that many, there weren't near that many. O'HARA: But over the course of time there were. OWEN: Yeah, they just keep -- but I don't know for sure. And then you know, they closed off the -- they built a big new addition to the technical school and closed off the access that goes through there, where they built all the Little League fields down there. They built - - they turned them into tennis courts, and they put the fields all over town, which is -- I think it's good that they're in the neighborhoods now. They're not all clumped in one place. When Jimmy and Bob made those fields, they were all in that one place. That was all the fields they had down there. And they've put them around all over the place. But the access to the college, you can't go through that road and get up to the college now like you used to. O'HARA: Yeah, I've never been that way. OWEN: Yeah. O'HARA: What happened to the plastic building? OWEN: Now, I was told -- and I'm -- I think that's right, because I think I went out there and saw it. But dear gosh, I've -- I think so many things, and I forget, and I, you know, get things crazy. If my kids (laughing) were here, they would just be rolling in the floor, laughing at me. But anyway, they bricked over it. O'HARA: Oh, really? So it's technically still there? OWEN: I think so. O'HARA: Oh, how neat. I'll have to go see it now. OWEN: I think. Now, one of the faculty members could tell you, Camille, Linda, or any of them could tell you if they -- because they went right on teaching there, you know. But I do think that they bricked over it, that they just left it there and bricked over it. O'HARA: Maybe some architect finally took your suggestion. (Laughing) OWEN: You know, it was just awful. And they -- you know, they just -- and they left the columns, you know, where the -- went this way. O'HARA: Yes, it's very space-age. OWEN: And the columns, you know, are still there. They're bricked over, those brick columns. [To cat: Get up. You're making me nervous. You just bathe yourself too much.] Oh yeah, let me get this thing and I'll show you. (Long pause -- break in tape) -- in town, and she was in part- -- her husband was in partnership with Jim Collier. And her name was [sounds like Lib Forrest]. And she wanted to create an art gallery there, so when you go in the door and the two halls go out -- you know, at this -- and then you go on, if you went past the halls and then this room that's in there that used to be what they called the commons room, I don't know what they call it now, but that was the -- she married -- he died -- [sounds like Louis] died, and she married another man named Morrison, and that was the Morrison Art Gallery. And she would bring -- this was in conjunction with, did we have, you know, concerts and things, but she would bring art shows in there. O'HARA: Oh, neat. OWEN: She was quite wealthy. And so we would have -- and so I'm not even sure, because I've never -- see, I never go to the college now. I never go out there. And now the North Central has moved down on 31W. I used to go out there to the North Central once in a while to see Al Rider, you know. But I don't do that anymore. So anyway, I haven't been out there in, I bet it's two or three years. So I don't know what's happened to that room that used to be the Morrison Art Gallery, but anyway, that was another thing that we had. [To cat: Frankie get away from there.] O'HARA: It's okay. OWEN: Are you allergic to cats? I can put him out. O'HARA: I love them. He's fine. Well, are there any questions I have not asked that you wish I had? OWEN: Oh, my goodness, (laughing) no. I think you've covered them all. And a lot of the questions, I think I didn't answer too well. O'HARA: Oh, you did great. You told me some great stories. OWEN: Well, I'm prejudiced, and I guess you can tell. And so mostly we're about my husband, but I think he was the hub that -- or the cog that ran the machine. I really believe that, and I think that anybody you'd ask would tell you that, that knew him then and knew how the college went then. He was very interested in Rotary, and he was the president of the Rotary several times. And was -- you know, we were -- he was really interested in all the civic things that were going on. So he was just a supporter of everything that was going on in the community. He coached the Little League when our boys -- we have two boys, and he was in -- when they were in the Little League. Aside from making the fields, he coached them. And then he was -- they had a community -- I've got a picture of him in a basketball suit, throwing a basketball in some basketball game he played in for some reason. I forget what that was. I think the Rotarians had a game playing some other Rotary team from other city sometime. O'HARA: Oh, really? OWEN: But -- yeah. And he worked in the yard. He loved to work in the yard. We worked in the yard a lot. We loved to work in the yard. And he was just -- he -- anything that -- well of course, his family came first, but then next to the family was the college. And he did a good job, he did a good job. And he -- and as I said they wouldn't have named that street out there for him if he hadn't been well loved and well respected. And the city did that. And they called me up one night. Al Rider, who -- have you talked to Al? Do you know who that is? O'HARA: Uh-huh, no. OWEN: Al is the head of the North Central Education Foundation. You know where they are? O'HARA: No. Where are they located? OWEN: They're down on 31W, a block before the courthouse, is all I can tell you. I don't know that you -- you might want to go down there. He could probably tell you a lot of stuff. He's been there a long time, but now, he wasn't there very long before Jimmy retired. O'HARA: Okay. OWEN: I'm not sure that he might -- but he might be able to -- you might want to call him on the phone and talk to him. But anyway -- I forgot where I was going with this, totally forgot. That's one of my senior moments. O'HARA: Well -- but your husband and yourself and your family have given so much to Elizabethtown Community College. OWEN: Well, you know, the Lions Club gave me a citation one time, and I said "You're giving this to the wrong person. You're supposed to give this to my husband." And they said, "No, we want to give it to you." And I went, "I haven't done a thing." I really haven't done anything. I belong to the Women's Club, I belong to the Garden Club, I play bridge, I play -- I am playing -- this is remarkable. I am playing bridge with the same people that I started playing with when we moved here, except for two who've died. O'HARA: That's really impressive. OWEN: Isn't that? O'HARA: That you all stayed together all these years. OWEN: Unbelievable. I think it's unbelievable. O'HARA: That's amazing. Somebody ought to write an article about you all. OWEN: I think it's unbelievable. I mean, to tell you the truth -- I mean, it's -- I think that's truly -- I think that's a feat of something, I don't know. But two have died. [Sounds like Nick] and [sounds like Paige] have died, and we've put others in to. Two others have come in. But the same ones. O'HARA: Going back to what you said, I truly believe that any great leader has a great wife behind him, otherwise they wouldn't be able to get everything done that they get done, someone -- they need that support. So I think you've really contributed more than you give yourself credit for. OWEN: Well, you're kind to say that. I don't know, I just don't know. I feel like -- you know, when the children got -- you don't know this, and this is irrelevant. You need -- you don't -- Oral history with Nancy Owen, wife of Dr. James S. Owen, first president of Elizabethtown Community College. Interview highlights include construction history and early faculty. Owen describes her husband’s vision for the college; student and community remembrances of her husband; and changes in programming at the college during his 27-year tenure. She concludes with the relationship between the college and the University of Kentucky prior to their split in 1998.