Bobby R. Himes
Bobby Russell Himes (October 22, 1931—June 28, 2008) was a small businessman, political activist, and a history professor at the Baptist-affiliated Campbellsville University (formerly Campbellsville College) in Campbellsville, the seat of Taylor County in central Kentucky. Beginning in 1961, he taught approximately 7,900 students over a 40-year period at CU. His last two years at the institution were as a special assistant to current university President Michael V. Carter. A Republican, Himes was a confidant of United States Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
Himes, who in 1988 survived throat cancer, said at his retirement dinner on April 30, 2001, that he was "a believer in young people. . . [He called each former student] one of my kids. Every morning I get up and take one day at a time." After he left the classroom, Himes was named Faculty-Emeritus.
1 Early years, military, education
3 Himes in politics
4 Educational honors
5 Death and legacy
Early years, military, education
Himes was born to Elbert Himes (1909-1989) and the former Ethel Whitler in Hartford in western Kentucky, the county seat of Ohio County, which is named for the Ohio River. He graduated in 1950 from Hartford High School and entered the United States Air Force during the Korean War. He served for four years and was a staff sergeant and an aircraft inspector. He was stationed for a time at Williams Air Force Base in Chandler, Arizona. For years afterwards, he attended many Air Force reunions, often driving from Kentucky to Texas for such gatherings.
Himes first studied at the two-year Hartford College in Hartford. The defunct institution was located on East Union Street in Hartford on the site of the current offices of the Ohio County school superintendent. After his military service, Himes procured the bachelor of arts degree in history and political science from the Methodist-affiliated Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro. In 1959, he received the master of arts degree in social science from Appalachian State University in Boone in western North Carolina. He taught history for two years at Appalachian State. He also did other graduate work at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green and at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. At the 1999 Campbellsville University commencement ceremony, Himes received an honorary doctor of humane letters. He did not, however, hold a Ph.D. in an academic field.
Himes was twenty-nine when he joined the Campbellsville University faculty. His long-time colleagues in history and political science were Gilbert R. Tredway of Jasper, Indiana (born 1922; retired 1984), Damon R. Eubank (born 1959) of Campbellsville, and William Edward Bennett (1943-2006), a former member of the Taylor County School Board. Another colleague was former Kentucky State Representative Russ Mobley of Campbellsville. Himes for a number of years directed the CU European-study program during the summer session.
Campbellsville University, founded in 1906 as Russell Creek Academy, had in 2008 an enrollment of approximately 2,400 students who represented 98 Kentucky counties, 25 states and 29 nations. The university was included in U.S. News & World Report 2008 listing of "America’s Best Colleges." It ranked 22nd in "Best Baccalaureate Colleges" in the American South and eighth in the South for "Great Schools, Great Prices."
On August 20, 1961, Himes married the former Margie Erlene Troutman (born ca. 1941), originally from Kannapolis, North Carolina, the daughter of Harry Maynard Troutman and Ellen Earniebell Troutman (born November 3, 1922). Mrs. Himes is the director of the Marion County Public Library in Lebanon, having retired as a school librarian in Marion County.
Himes' daughter, Renee, an only child, was born on August 13, 1965. She is married to John Abell of Columbia, the seat of Adair County; she was previously married to Andrew L. Colley (born November 1, 1953) of Campbellsville. Himes had a grandson, Aaron DeMers of Campbellsville and his wife, Angie, and three great-grandchildren, Austin DeMers, Sierra DeMers, and Mackenzie DeMers; one brother and three sisters: Freddie B. Himes of Charleston, South Carolina; Doris Mason (born 1938) and husband "Bill" of Beaver Dam; Janice Stone and husband Howard of Hartford, and Joan E. Himes (born 1944) of Prospect. Another brother and two sisters preceded Himes in death: Billy J. Himes (1934-1975), Betty Lois Himes, and Ethel Rae Himes.
Himes in politics
Himes served as Taylor County GOP chairman from 1982—1992. He once traced his political interest to elementary school in Hartford, when in 1940 as a child, he advocated the election of Wendell Willkie for U.S. President over Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In 1964, he was a Barry Goldwater Republican, recalled former CU colleague, Dr. Robert S. Clark (1931-2013), a Democrat. As county chairman in 1984, Himes worked to elect McConnell, then the county judge of Jefferson County (Louisville), to the Senate in what turned out to have been a narrow upset of the Democratic incumbent Walter D. Huddleston. In 2003, he was active in the campaign to elect U.S. Representative Ernie Fletcher as the first Republican governor of Kentucky in more than three decades.
Governor Fletcher presented Himes with the Kentucky "Unbridled Spirit" Award, given to those who demonstrate extraordinary effort in such areas as volunteerism, community or charitable work, and education. Fletcher presented the surprise designation to Himes on April 3, 2007, at the dedication of the Heartland Parkway. When completed, the 60-mile highway will connect the Louie B. Nunn Parkway at Columbia with the Martha Layne Collins Bluegrass Parkway at Springfield by widening the existing United States Highway 68 and two state highways. Thereafter Fletcher was handily defeated in a bid for a second term.
In a speech on the Senate floor delivered after the death of Himes, McConnell extolled Himes’ commitment to education, community, and nation. McConnell recalled how Himes had gone out of his way to assist Mrs. McConnell, United States Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, when “she was new to to Kentucky and just getting to know people. Dr. Himes was so friendly and helpful; they soon became fast friends. He was a great guide to the people and places in Kentucky. . . . Kentucky and our nation have lost a great American . . . And I have lost a dear beloved friend.”
On August 6, 2008, the Legislative Research Commission, meeting in the state capitol of Frankfort, passed a resolution of sympathy on Himes’ death and swapped stories about the former professor’s life story.
The late Professor Himes pauses for a break in this 1986 photo.Himes was twice named “Educator of the Year” by the Campbellsville/Taylor County Chamber of Commerce. He was named “Man of the Year” in 2001 by the Business and Professional Women’s Club and in 2004 by the Central Kentucky News-Journal. In 1982, the Kentucky Council for the Social Studies named him “Outstanding Social Studies Teacher”. Himes was known as a strong booster of Lady Tiger basketball at Campbellsville University. Coach Donna Wise described her friend as “an avid fan and an upbeat personality for everyone involved. We have honored Bobby for several years in our awards banquet with the Bob Himes Award . . . [for] dedication, determination and loyalty.” Himes was a member of Campbellsville Baptist Church. He was also affiliated with the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, was a collector of antique cars, and formerly owned a Gulf Oil service station on Lebanon Avenue in Campbellsville.
Death and legacy
Himes died at his home at 721 Lebanon Avenue. Graveside services were held on July 4 at Oakwood Cemetery in his hometown of Hartford, with Dr. Robert Clark and the Reverend Wesley O. Hanson officiating. A memorial service was held at Campbellsville Baptist Church on August 9, 2008, with pastor Skip Alexander officiating.
Dr. J. Chester Porter, a 1962 graduate of Campbellsville University and a member of the CU trustees as well as the chairman of the board at the University of Louisville, said that Himes was “one of the top professors” under whom he had studied, including law faculty: “He was a class act and a fantastic gentleman who was always putting the interests of his students ahead of any agenda.” It was noted too that Himes often financially helped students in need.
Kenneth W. Winters, a former CU president and a Republican member of the Kentucky State Senate, said that Himes “worked tirelessly for Campbellsville University and indeed for its students. He truly felt that CU must extend its influence beyond our home campus, and he worked aggressively to help make such extension of our services possible throughout Central Kentucky. Seldom in my career have I met faculty or staff with more commitment to their students . . . “
Winters’ predecessor as CU president, William R. Davenport of Campbellsville, said that Himes was fully committed to his students. “His encouragement and support for the entire institution were tireless. Our community has lost a prominent statesman who modeled citizen leadership for all of us to follow. He spent his energies making things better for so many. , , , Our loss is great. Obviously, his family’s loss is beyond measure. We pray that Our Heavenly Father will provide for them the blessings of His peace and comfort.”
In 2004, Himes published Life in the Shadows of Hartford College and Campbellsville University, a collection of essays about his life experiences, particularly in regard to higher education. Himes recalled his roots in Hartford: "I could not have grown up in a better place or time. Nowhere could there have been better people to nurture a young boy, a young man, and now an old man."
Himes was also a sought-after speaker at clubs and public forums. "There have been a lot of people who have influenced me. They taught me to respect people, a work ethic, and that giving was a lot of fun. . ., Himes told the Central Kentucky News-Journal.
Himes is honored through the Bill Himes Scholarship at Campbellsville University and the Bob and Erlene Himes Scholarship at Kentucky Wesleyan College.
- Campbellsville University Alumni News:http://www.campbellsville.edu/news/2008/07_28a.asp
3 a b Bobby R. Himes, Life in the Shadows of Hartford College and Campbellsville University, 2004
6 a b Net Detective, People Searchhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_R._Himes"
- Robert S. Clark obituary. Central Kentucky News-Journal, April 10, 2013. Retrieved on April 13, 2013.