0:00

O'HARA: This is an interview conducted by Adina O'Hara with Ruby Kelley at her home in Somerset, Kentucky, on March 22, 2007, for the Community College Oral History Project. Ms. Kelley, Somerset had approximately 1,500 high school graduates in 1960. This demand for higher education in Pulaski County resulted in the 1962 legislation to create a college in Somerset, as a part of the University of Kentucky. Because you were an early faculty member and later the wife of the third president of Somerset Community College --

KELLEY: Second.

O'HARA: Second. Sorry about that. In between, there was an interim.

KELLEY: Mm-mm.

O'HARA: So second wife (laughs) -- I mean, president of the second (laughs) -- wife of the second president, excuse me, of Somerset 1:00Community College, you can explain the growth of this community college from multiple standpoints. So what was your first experience?

KELLEY: Well, I came here in 19- -- in March of 1967 for an interview with Dr. Kelley, who was the current director at that point in time, and was later employed as a chemistry instructor at Somerset Community College. I moved here May of 1967, and I started teaching that fall. At that point in time, we had about eleven or twelve faculty members; we had four secretarial staff and about two maintenance people, with less than 350 students, or in that neighborhood. So it was a very small entity. We had one building, which was called the Main 2:00Building, later was named Meece Hall. As you know, there was three objectives as a community college, of course, the transfer program, the technical program, which was an associate degree program, and continuing education -- or I never know whether you say continuing education or whatever, but in that realm. The first year I was here, I taught organic chemistry and two levels of chemistry, 101 and 112. I don't remember, even, the numbers, it's been so many years ago (laughs). But it was a real joy to teach these young people in this area, because they had never, in most cases, had much exposure. And we covered a ten-county area. However, the majority of our students at that point in time were from Pulaski County. We got a lot of students from Somerset High School. The students that we got from Somerset High 3:00School had had some background in chemistry. The others basically had had none at that point in time. Our lab was very deficient. Chemistry had been taught one year before then by a gentleman who had retired from Eastern. We had very little equipment, but -- we had very little biology equipment, and so it was necessary to do a lot of improvising, a lot of make-do, as you might call it.

O'HARA: Do you have some interesting stories of that first year, the first two years teaching?

KELLEY: Well, I would say to you that my late husband, after we were married in '68, used to say I was the most unorthodox teacher he'd ever had on his faculty. Had he known this, he would have probably never hired me. However, he said after my students transferred to UK the first year, and to Eastern, what -- the feedback he'd got, he 4:00couldn't dispute the end-product, so he left me alone. The rule on nepotism, however, took care of me, at the end of two years, after we were married in '68. Dr. Albright was acting president, because Dr. Oswald was out of the country. And Roscoe had to go to Ellis Hartford, who was then the community college person, and find out when we could get married and I could complete my contract. Well, between Ellis Hartford -- they -- between Dr. Hartford and Dr. Albright, they ruled that I could finish out 1968-69, which I did, but it still had to be okayed by Dr. Oswald when he got back to the States. I think he was on some kind of a scholarship or something. He was the most outstanding person, in that he was many, many years advanced for his time. And he was the person that I feel really gave the community 5:00college a boost in the state of Kentucky.

O'HARA: He brought the community college idea from California with him.

KELLEY: That's correct. That's right. And I might go on and say that Dr. Hartford drove a hard bargain also, and he challenged Roscoe that he would have -- at the end of three or four years, he would attempt to have fifty percent of his students enrolled in the technical or occupational programs or whatever you might call them, like the associate degree nursing.

O'HARA: Impressive.

KELLEY: And he really took this seriously, and he worked hard at it. I would say to you that he was the -- and I may be jumping ahead. I have a habit of that.

O'HARA: No, I'm enjoying this.

KELLEY: He had a philosophy that, you used whatever was most fitted in the community. At that time, we called computer science, data 6:00processing. He sent one of his faculty members to the vocational school, and our students went there, and this professor taught both their students and our students with -- on the vocational school campus. I don't think any of the other community colleges did that, that I have any knowledge about. Then there was something else that was unique. When Roscoe came here, of course as I mentioned, he wasn't married. There was a minister by the name of Lee Davis Fisher, who was pastor of the First Christian Church, a quite elderly fellow, and he sort of took Roscoe under his wing. And I don't know exactly how this came to pass, but in the spring of 1967, they started a class they called Living and Learning, and this caught on across the whole system after that. And this was to take a group of older citizens -- 7:00we called them older instead of senior citizens at that point in time -- and we would do programs for four weeks, two nights a week. And this was a real inspiration for these people, but it was good public relations for the community college, likewise. And I used to say that they'd invite me to do a program -- I think the first one I ever did was on radiation -- and I said later, after they really knew me, they didn't care about my program, they just wanted me to bring them some food. (laughs) Let's cut ----------(??).

[pause in recording]

O'HARA: -- an overpass between the community college campus and the vocational school?

KELLEY: This was always Roscoe's dream, to have close proximity, because he believed, as I mentioned previously, that we could utilize facilities so much more effectively if there was easy access. However, 8:00students didn't seem to mind going from one place to the other. I might mention when I came here in 1967, we had one main building. And then in that fall we got four temporary buildings, and they were composed of four faculty offices and two classrooms. No bathrooms, however, and some of the teachers always made remarks about that. But they were a nice place to teach because there was no traffic. There was no traffic down the hall, they were very quiet, and you had no interference from other people. And I have taught -- and I had taught classes there. And after I left in 1969, I continued to teach one or two classes each semester, even though I was working full-time at the vocational school. And then after Roscoe passed away in '91, I taught a full two semesters at the community college for -- in the Biology Department at that point in time.

O'HARA: Neat. Neat. So you've been teaching all along.

KELLEY: That's all I know, and I've taught all my life, forty years.

9:00

O'HARA: Great.

KELLEY: I taught in Illinois before I came here, and I taught in Alabama before that.

O'HARA: Where are you originally from?

KELLEY: Alabama.

O'HARA: Alabama.

KELLEY: The last job I had before I left Alabama was in the Mobile Public School Systems -- System, but I taught at Troy State University, and I taught in Selma the year before they had the march from Selma to Montgomery.

O'HARA: Oh, my. Some rich history there.

KELLEY: Too much.

O'HARA: (laughs) That is neat. Well, this sounds fascinating about the cooperation. Like you said, it was unique between the community college here in Somerset and the vocational school to such a degree, that students would go to both places.

KELLEY: That's right. And I think that -- if I remember correctly, there were some transfer arrangements at that point --

O'HARA: Wow!

KELLEY: -- being made. In other words, some of their subject matter or 10:00classes that they took at their vocational school were transferable to college classes. And I don't believe that was true across the state. To my knowledge, it wasn't true.

O'HARA: Other community colleges did have some arrangements, but nothing to this degree, nothing that I am aware of, where they would actually accept credit over.

KELLEY: Well, and as I remember, Glyncon Garrett was the professor that did this. And he taught not only data processing, but he taught Business English, and math, and some introduction to business courses on the vocational school campus. It was much easier to make a class, because usually we tried to have fifteen enrolled in a given class, if you had students from both campuses. Otherwise, it might not go.

11:00

O'HARA: Now, would this have been possible without your husband?

KELLEY: No.

O'HARA: Was it really your husband's initiative to allow this much cooperation?

KELLEY: I might mention he came here from Black Hawk College in Moline, Illinois. And it was already doing this. In other words, their LPN and their RN program were using the same facilities and the same instructors, or professors, and there was a lot of cooperation there, and I think that's where the idea sprung from.

O'HARA: It seems he brought it with him, just like Oswald brought the community college idea.

KELLEY: He certainly did. Now, the interesting thing about Dr. Oswald was that his wife and I attended the same school in Alabama.

O'HARA: Really? I didn't know about that connection.

KELLEY: Yes. So there are a lot of things that go a long way to make you understand that I have a true love for Somerset and Somerset Community College.

O'HARA: May I ask a question about -- back in -- at the beginning of the 12:00creation of the community colleges, the centennial of the University of Kentucky was in '65, and Somerset Community College opened its doors then. And I read early on that one of the first initiatives, I believe, that Hartford -- Ellis Hartford made in those early years was to bring all the directors and their wives together. Were there occasions like that when you came?

KELLEY: Always, always.

O'HARA: And could you describe how that took place, where they took place, and what the purpose that they were, and how often?

KELLEY: Well, Ellis Hartford was a great believer that -- many times he'd have a cocktail party at his home. Many times we would have it at Spindletop or at various other places, but he always encouraged their wives to attend. And I think that rubbed off on Roscoe Kelley, in that he always encouraged everybody that he interviewed to bring their spouses, be it male or female. And on occasion, it was a male. 13:00We hired some ladies down the road that moved to Somerset from other parts of the country, and their husbands came with them, which to me was interesting. I don't think I've said anything about the two-years programs, have I?

O'HARA: No, please talk some more about the two-year programs. What were unique? Like, was there a need for medical programs in Somerset?

KELLEY: Well, very much so. And I might say that it took some time to get this rolling. We did not have a nursing program when Roscoe came to Somerset. And the best I remember, it was started in 1970. It was a difficult program to get started, because in that age there were very few BSN nurses, less [let] alone master degree nurses. And there was no way he could start a nursing program without at least three master degree nurses. I believe he could have two and one BS to teach.

O'HARA: And who set those requirements?

KELLEY: They're set by the State Nursing Board.

14:00

O'HARA: Okay.

KELLEY: If I remember.

O'HARA: So not the University of Kentucky.

KELLEY: No, It was set by the -- if -- I may be -- I think I'm correct there, because you had to go through the State Nursing Board for everything.

O'HARA: That makes sense.

KELLEY: And we started this program, or attempted to start, and he had no master degree nurses. Well, when he was told by the University of Kentucky Nursing School that if he could get the nurses, then he -- or faculty, as they would be called, he could go ahead with his program. Well, his only hope was to get some help from the community. And the medical society and the local hospital appropriated enough money that we were able to send three young ladies that had BSNs to graduate school to get their masters. One went to UK, and two of them went to the University of Florida.

O'HARA: Wow! So they actually went away to Florida, completed it, and then came back?

KELLEY: Came back. That was their obligation. Our first director of nursing was a local person. At the time, she was working with the 15:00Health Department. She had a BSN. She went to the University of Florida. And I said two of them went to Florida, that's not correct. One went to the University of Pennsylvania and acquired their master's degree and came back to Somerset Community College and taught. Our first director died shortly after our first graduating class or second graduating class, if I remember. We had to struggle in that program to maintain that. But that's not the only program we had in that area while Roscoe was there. Of course, we started out with a certified lab program, and we built it to what we called a MLT program, which -- Medical Laboratory Technician program, and it was certified. Of course, we had medical secretaries, these type of programs. And some other associate degrees we had were, of course, in all areas in the business field. And we had a forestry program, and I don't think it exists anymore. But these things, I guess, is what created some of 16:00the interest that Roscoe had in the health field. And he was involved in that, and he served on the Area Development District Board and was their health person there, liaison person. And at the time when we needed a Certificate of Need for our current hospital, he was chairman of that board. And he later -- when the state of Kentucky was mandated that we have a state health plan, John Y. Brown was governor at that point in time, and he appointed him on that committee to -- State Health Coordinating Council, I believe is what it was called. And they wrote the first -- he was involved in the writing of the first state Health Plan. He was chairman of that board the first ten years he was on there, and he stayed on it until he died in 1991.

O'HARA: That's impressive. Very impressive.

KELLEY: The Certificate of Need Board, if you hadn't been involved in health, you would realize how interesting it could be, and was. Then 17:00I might mention that during his time here, we were able to have the dental hygiene -- hygienist program that was rotating at the time in Kentucky, I'm sure it's not doing that now. I don't know how it works today. But we had it for three years here, but we had to get local dentists to endorse it and agree to give so many hours of their time --

O'HARA: Interesting.

KELLEY: -- to come and check behind the students. We did have one doctor on board, and he still is teaching at Somerset Community College. He was a dentist, but he's teaching biology there now. He uprooted his family and came to Somerset. He never did leave. And so this was a very productive program, and I'm sure it's in place today.

O'HARA: I believe so.

KELLEY: But I'm not really sure of that.

O'HARA: I'm almost positive. A lot of the community colleges have them. And some -- they vary throughout the system still.

18:00

KELLEY: One of the programs that we wanted to get started that has been started since his retirement was a physical therapy assistant program. We had some students that went on after our associate degree program to UK in the physical therapy program, but it was harder at that time to get in that program than it was to get in medical school.

O'HARA: Yes. I remember even when I considered it, it was -- in the 90s it was very difficult.

KELLEY: Because they didn't take but sixteen or eighteen or something a year. It almost took some clout to get in.

O'HARA: That's impressive that you had students going there. That brings me to another question. Some community colleges developed relationships with the state's four-year institutions, EKU, Morehead, Eastern, Western, Murray State. And of course, you had a relationship with U of K -- UK. What was the relationship between Somerset Community College and the regional institutions during your tenure?

19:00

KELLEY: Our main relationship was with the state schools, Western and Eastern. And we had -- automatically their courses transferred. In other words, you had a book, you knew what English 101 was on UK -- I mean on Eastern's campus or Western's campus.

O'HARA: So it was a smooth transition.

KELLEY: Very much so. And there was no problem. Of course, we knew people on both campuses. We -- it was a small world then, I guess, compared to what it is today.

O'HARA: Now, was your husband responsible for setting up those arrangements with individual schools?

KELLEY: Well, I don't really know. But when I came on board in '67 as a counselor -- or counseling students, you could pull these books out. And I think it was a cooperative effort between UK and the other two institutions.

O'HARA: That's great.

KELLEY: My son went on to Western to school from here, because everything transferred.

20:00

O'HARA: Wonderful.

KELLEY: Of course, his -- he's not -- he's deceased now, but he always made this remark, that he'd been to five or six different institutions, and the best instructors and professors he ever had was at Somerset Community College.

O'HARA: I'm not surprised. I hear a lot of good things about the community college programs.

KELLEY: Well, the academic program at that point in time was excellent. And I think we had high standards, and I hope today that they are maintaining those standards. I ramble, but --

O'HARA: No, you're doing great. That reminded me. May I ask another question?

KELLEY: Sure.

O'HARA: Speaking of high academic standards, during your husband's presidency, SACS accreditation came to all the community colleges.

KELLEY: (sneezes)

O'HARA: Can you tell me about your experiences, your husband's experiences with SACS accreditation?

KELLEY: Well, I can't remember names, and that's just as well. But they would -- we did the SACS write-up -- or the self-study, and we hired a 21:00secretary to come on board just to help with that. But Dr. Kelley had participated in so many of them before. He had just come off of one in Illinois, which was Midwest, I don't remember which area it is. But he had participated in these before, so he was quite familiar with the Southern Association of accreditation. And the objective there was to become accredited. And this was very difficult, because there was -- to my knowledge, there was not any other group of community colleges that were connected directly to a university.

O'HARA: It was unique.

KELLEY: And it was unique within itself, so this made some strange bedfellows, as they used to tell me, when they came to visit. And I was there when we wrote it, and then I was there when they came for their visit. And needless to say, those are people you really handle 22:00with kid gloves, hoping that everything would go well. It did go well for us.

O'HARA: Wonderful.

KELLEY: I don't remember the recommendations. We got some, but all that we got were beneficial because they automatically require that UK give us more money for certain things. And that was important at that point in time. I might go on and say that later Roscoe served two terms on the Southern Association accreditation team, and he was chairman of it two different years and -- or two different terms. And we -- I was fortunate to go with him on most of these pre-visits across the states. And ones that he went to were in Texas and Alabama and Mississippi and Georgia, and most of them were in North Carolina. But the last one he did was in a school in Nebraska, because they were jointly owned by a school in Texas. So you had to go both places, and that was a very, 23:00very unique thing.

O'HARA: Interesting. Well, he really -- Dr. Kelley really had a lot of experience. I'm impressed with -- not only did he really reach out into the community, but he also reached out into the nation and offered --

KELLEY: And the state.

O'HARA: And the state, the state involvement. Ms. Kelley, I understand that your husband was in the military as well. How did that affect -- well, first of all, what were -- what was he in the military, what were his experiences? And then how did that affect his involvement with veterans at Somerset Community College?

KELLEY: Well (clears throat), let's go back to his life. When he turned sixteen, he lied about his age and told them he was eighteen and went in the National Guard.

O'HARA: (laughs)

KELLEY: So he was activated quite young. When he started -- I guess he was a sophomore in college. And he was in World War II, and then he 24:00came back home. And this is when I was not part of his life, but he had a -- was commander of -- that's not the right -- but the head of a group, and that troop, I guess that's what you call it, was activated during the Korean Conflict. He ended up serving 37 years, all told, in the military, and out of that time, seven of it was active duty. He retired as a full colonel --

O'HARA: Wow.

KELLEY: -- when he retired. We went to the Army War College, was his last stint, and -- in Pennsylvania. And he had done everything to be promoted to a general, but he failed to ever get his last thesis done because his job was too pressing locally, so he had to let that go.

O'HARA: That's amazing.

KELLEY: Even our US Representative, who was Dr. Tim Lee Carter at that time, who preceded Hal Rogers, had said there was no problem. He would 25:00go all the way to help him get that promotion, but we -- he had to back off because of job involvements here.

O'HARA: I'm amazed that he was able to do all that and be the president here.

KELLEY: Well, we used to make trips, and he would say to me, "I'll take you to your daughter's in Illinois if you read to me all the way." And I would read the -- on NATO and all this stuff that he was working papers on at that time.

O'HARA: Interesting.

KELLEY: And he'd have me make notes as I would pull something out and read to him. So -- but he was a great believer in the military.

O'HARA: That's impressive.

KELLEY: He really was.

O'HARA: Was there anything special at the college for military students? Of course, the GI Bill was approved.

KELLEY: Well of course, he always said he made it through his doctorate, except one quarter, with GI funds, so he was a great believer in helping students. And he was a great believer in taking young men that came back from the military and doing an evaluation of what they had 26:00had on base and give them as many hours of credit as he possibly could.

O'HARA: Wonderful. Wonderful.

KELLEY: We had a guy by the name of Major McCarty, who was the principal at the vocational school, and I think, if I remember right, Roscoe was able to give him the equivalent of an associate degree when he evaluated all the exposure he had in the military.

O'HARA: That is so critical. That is so important, because it shortens the length of their training program. And they've already earned it.

KELLEY: That's right. And since you mentioned that, I don't remember where he was doing a self-study, but he was sent to Biloxi to the Army -- no, I better back off of that one, I don't remember. But anyway it was part of the military, which they were doing an associate degree in the military.

O'HARA: Boy.

KELLEY: So they selected him to do that one because of his military background.

O'HARA: Interesting. Interesting. I wish I had had the opportunity 27:00to meet him. He sounds like quite a man. Speaking of non-traditional students, because a lot of times veterans would come back from their service and they were no longer that traditional 18- to 23-, 24-year old. Did Somerset Community College -- back when you started, did it offer classes at night for adults?

KELLEY: Yes, it did. Well, we offered classes late in the afternoon. And at that time, we also -- this was interesting to me. The high schools, particularly in the county, had so little to offer in the field of mathematics, that we would offer a trig class at four o'clock, and that kind of thing, so the students could come and take it while they were still going to high school.

O'HARA: Really?

KELLEY: Of course, they do that now, but back then it wasn't as prevalent as it is today.

O'HARA: In fact, I've never heard of it back then. I mean, I know they do it now, but I thought that was a new thing.

KELLEY: Well, we did it.

O'HARA: Evidently not.

KELLEY: Well, we scheduled those classes that the high school students would want. Of course, Roscoe required that their principals give 28:00them permission to take these classes, and then they would come to the college with a better background.

O'HARA: And did he -- did they get, if they took a college class in high school --

KELLEY: They got college credit for it.

O'HARA: Credit for it? Wow. You guys were the forerunners in that area.

KELLEY: Some of the kids today get an associate degree the same day they finish high school in this area. This has happened on a number of occasions. Now, that did not happen in our time.

O'HARA: Yeah. I didn't know they could get that much in school now.

KELLEY: They can, if they have that much endurance.

O'HARA: (laughs) Impressive. Wow. Interesting. Student activities over the years at some of the community colleges, especially in the late '60s, I was surprised to find out that some of the community colleges had basketball and soccer teams. And can you tell me any stories? Did -- or tennis. I think I found out that Madisonville had --

KELLEY: We had a basketball team, and it was a calamity. However, that 29:00was one of Roscoe's dreams, but the community college system did not support it in any manner whatsoever, financially. So it was up to you, to recruit from the community enough funds to operate, to hire your coach and this type of thing. And it was quite interesting.

O'HARA: So from -- was it in place in -- when you started in 1967?

KELLEY: No, I think the first year was '67, '68, maybe.

O'HARA: Okay.

KELLEY: And we had basketball. We played such schools as Lindsey Wilson and Campbellsville and Centre College and these other schools. But it didn't endure over a period of time, because we -- it was very difficult to keep it funded. It was very difficult to have a coach that we felt comfortable with, I guess that's a nice way to put it.

O'HARA: Interesting. Did you ever play any of the other community colleges? Like, I think Elizabethtown played --

30:00

KELLEY: Yes, Elizabethtown. I'm sure we played -- we played St. Catherine's. I remember that one.

O'HARA: I'm thinking maybe Prestonsburg might have had a team.

KELLEY: I think Prestonsburg had one too. Dr. Campbell was about as far out as Roscoe was in that kind of thing.

O'HARA: Laughter.

KELLEY: His community supported him in that endeavor there at Prestonsburg.

O'HARA: I think it's interesting. Do you recall any tournaments or anything they played in?

KELLEY: Not off-hand.

O'HARA: Not off-hand? But that's -- I think that's a unique couple of years when several community colleges had teams. How about other sports? Were there other sports that you were aware of?

KELLEY: We had some, but I never was involved in those. And I might go on and say that when I came here, they had attempted to get a Phi Theta Kappa chapter going, and they had not been able to. And that was one of the things Roscoe gave me as a chore. And it wasn't a chore; it was a pleasure. And it's still a very active organization on campus today.

31:00

O'HARA: Great.

KELLEY: And the current president of Somerset Community College is on the national board of Phi Theta Kappa. So it has remained a very active organization on campus. Of course, they have a lot of other student organizations, particularly I remember the BSU, which was Baptist Student Union. And they have a Baptist Student Union house on campus -- or adjacent to the campus, and it was there when we were there.

O'HARA: So there's quite a bit of community, sense of community, for the students when they came on -- they could be a part of extracurricular activities.

KELLEY: That's correct. And I might mention that some of my fondest memories of students that I taught were kids that had served as student president of -- had served as president of Student Council. I might mention currently the mayor of Somerset was one of the students that served as president of the Student Council. Another one that served as president of Student Council when I was there owns the -- Somerset 32:00Motors, which is the GM dealership in Somerset today. And we have a -- I could tell a lot of stories about the kids that I encountered, because they have been -- lots of those first students stick in your mind because the classes were small. We had some that went on and became doctors, you know, have MDs and PhDs. And I have a number of local pharmacists that went through Somerset Community College.

O'HARA: Interesting, how much, even from a start, that these -- Somerset Community College added to the cultural and economic viability of the community. It created these educations.

KELLEY: That was one of Roscoe's aims, was to try to offer programs that would tie to the community, so the students would be employable and would stay at home.

O'HARA: Mm-mm.

KELLEY: Now, I know the first year I was here, I taught students that later -- I believe four of them became MDs.

33:00

O'HARA: Impressive.

KELLEY: And one of the young men is practicing today in McCreary County. And he went on to UK, and he was admitted to medical school at the end of three years, which was a fluke. But he always said they asked him when he was interviewed, "What are you doing with this extra semester of calculus?" And he said, "You don't know Mrs. Kelley." (laughs)

O'HARA: (laughs)

KELLEY: And I remember, I said, "You're going to take it. You're going to be stronger than the run of the mill." And he always said that was the reason he got admitted at the end of the three years, it separated him from the others. Now, whether that's true, I don't know. But anyway, these were great years.

O'HARA: Well, that speaks volumes.

KELLEY: And I might add that all the time that Roscoe was at the college, he required every person in the administration to teach one three-semester-hour course every semester, and he did likewise.

O'HARA: Neat. I think that keeps him --

KELLEY: Well, it kept him involved with the students. The kids were 34:00scared of him, and I think that goes back to -- they always said his military appearance. But -- and the faculty, when they would get out of touch or out of kilter with him, would say, "It's just the military." And maybe it was, and maybe it wasn't, but he ran a tight ship.

O'HARA: Sounds like he did a great job. Wow. You have talked about a lot of the questions I had. For a local community -- you spoke about this briefly -- there were cultural and economic benefits involved in community college development. Some of the community colleges promoted cultural activities, such as entertainers, lecturers. Can you tell me a little bit about some of the unique things that --

KELLEY: Well, I don't know if this was unique, but we were very much involved in the Lake Cumberland Performing Arts. And that was an 35:00organization that sprang from Somerset Orchestra. And it was very difficult to finance at that point in time. Today it's very lively, and it's a very active part of the community. But at one point, we -- I thought this thing was going down. But between -- because of Roscoe and Denton Russell, who at that point was working at First and Farmers Bank, and Cornelia Cooper, who is the wife of Richard Cooper, were the three that salvaged it. And it has grown tremendously, and that was one of the outstanding things in our community at the time. Some of the things were done at the college; sometimes they were done at W.B. Jones Auditorium. Thankfully, today we have these things going on at the Center for Rural Development. And this was built -- I don't remember exactly the year it opened. It's just celebrated 36:00its fifteenth year or twenty years. Fifteen, I guess. Fifteen years celebration, because we -- I went last year to that celebration.

O'HARA: Neat. It sounds like a lot of cooperation in the community, a whole lot.

KELLEY: There was. Now, I think I mentioned -- did I mention to you that Roscoe had not been here but three years when he became president of the Chamber of Commerce?

O'HARA: No.

KELLEY: And then he went on, as I said, with -- about the United Way and --

O'HARA: He was president of the United Way here in Somerset?

KELLEY: Mm-mm. And he was president of Hospice. I mentioned that, didn't I? And he helped -- was the first president of Hospice.

O'HARA: Impressive, brought all these new important social programs to Somerset.

KELLEY: I might mention that -- and I'm rambling again, we -- he utilized his advisory board to the fullest. And at that point, they were just an advisory board. I think today they are really a board, 37:00without the advisory adjective in front of it, board. And he -- Richard Cooper was on this board when the college was founded. And there were several other outstanding people, but we also -- there was a gentleman by the name of Homer Ramsey, who was on the board of trustees at UK, and also Richard Cooper was on the board of trustees at UK. And they gave us a lot of local support. And this helped tremendously to help bring our school into the limelight.

O'HARA: And who else was on the advisory board during your husband's tenure? Clay Davis started in '73?

KELLEY: Yes, but --

O'HARA: Much later.

KELLEY: -- after he'd been here a number of years. Clay Davis was the chairman of the board when he retired. And Clay has been a real supporter of the community college system. He came here in the early '70s, Clay did. I believe he came here from Georgetown, if I am correct. But he was on the advisory board, and then he was off for 38:00a number of years, but he's back on currently. And of course, the advisory board then was appointed by the governor, just like it is today. I don't know whether you're aware, but I think you submit three names, and then he selects, hopefully, one of those.

O'HARA: That's good to know.

KELLEY: I think -- I don't know how it goes now, but I think it's still that way.

O'HARA: Very good. Well, you have just provided a lot of interesting information on -- one thing I read about with the new -- the first building that was built, one of the comments in the newspaper that impressed me was they were talking about the new, first building at Somerset Community College. They said it was air conditioning, multi- purpose, and a modern building, whereas some of the other community colleges weren't quite so happy with their building. Can you talk about your experiences? Does that adequately --

39:00

KELLEY: Basically.

O'HARA: -- describe it? I mean, it did need some more equipment and stuff. You came a couple of years later.

KELLEY: Yeah, well --

O'HARA: Because that was '65.

KELLEY: Let me say, Eddie Hurt was the first interim director. And the first office for the community college before the first building was built, was at an office at the First and Farmers Bank. And then Dr. Davenport came on board, and he was here until April -- I believe he left in April of 1966. And Dr-- . and then Eddie Hurt moved back -- he was the business manager -- and he moved back in that position until Roscoe came in October of 1966.

O'HARA: And that's where I got a little confused with the presidency, because he was just an interim, stepping in temporarily.

KELLEY: In other words, he was the business officer at the college, and he was the first person that was employed by the college.

O'HARA: Wow. Interesting.

KELLEY: Cut that off.

[pause in recording]

40:00

O'HARA: Ms. Kelley, thank you so much. I have really enjoyed this interview. The information's been just great. And if there's any other questions that you wish I'd asked, please let me know now, or if you want to give me a call later --

KELLEY: Okay.

O'HARA: -- and let me know, I'd be happy to come back down and interview you again.

KELLEY: It's been my pleasure to have you come, and especially to be in my little home.

O'HARA: Oh, your home is beautiful. Thank you so much for having me.

Search This Transcript
SearchClear