Why I Give: Dr. Paul Radcliff ’64

Defining Moments, Dreams Fulfilled

Residence: Ft. Collins, Colo.
Hometown: West Baden, Ind., graduated from high school in Fort Myers, Fla.
Family: Married Georgia (1943-2007) in 1965; three children – Lori, Doug and Mike; six grandchildren – Mallory, Dylan, Easton, Hudson, Grace and Crosby
Ph.D. Indiana University, Education Leadership
M.S. Indiana University, Education Leadership
B.A. Kentucky Wesleyan College, Health and Physical Education
Career: 38 years in public education in various roles, retired as principal of Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins

Why did you attend Kentucky Wesleyan?           

“As an All-State high school basketball player and Mr. Basketball in Florida in 1960, I was recruited by many institutions, including large universities and Kentucky Wesleyan College. However, when I visited Wesleyan, I fell in love with the campus. I felt comfortable with the small college atmosphere and thought I had a better chance to play ball.  I was born about 80 miles north of Owensboro in West Baden, Ind., and raised there until age 16, when my family moved to Florida. While at Wesleyan, having my grandmother and uncle nearby in West Baden provided a valuable support system for me.”

What are special memories of your Wesleyan years?

“I made the right decision to attend Wesleyan. It was the perfect fit for me, and I remember well the great people on campus and in Owensboro. They showed interest in me and supported me. I played basketball and baseball and lettered three years in each sport.

“I had many excellent teachers, and I particularly remember three. Dr. Ed Beavin taught Old Testament, and he was tremendous. Dr. Tom Rogers taught New Testament, and we had great discussions in his classes. I learned so much about the Bible from both of them, and I am still grateful today. My English teacher, John “Knocky” Parker, was also a world-class pianist. He even kept a piano in his classroom and could really pound out a tune. Good memories. I loved being at a small school with such a high quality faculty.

“We played Southern Illinois University in basketball. I got to play against the great Walt Frazier and held him to 37 points. Now that is a memory.”

Were there any defining moments in your life during your college years?

“There were probably several, but a couple of them stand out. First, for a variety of personal reasons, I nearly quit midway through my first semester. I was packed and ready to go. My roommate called my basketball coach, T.L. Plain, and he contacted a member of the All-American Club, Fisher Tichenor. Fisher came to campus and talked to me. He said I was about to make a big mistake and encouraged me to stay. He said I would survive, and emphasized I would be a better and stronger person if I did stick it out. Of course he was right, and before I was graduated, I was even inducted into the Order of Oak and Ivy. I enjoyed four outstanding years at Wesleyan that prepared me well for my life and career.

“I’ll also never forget when the first two African-American basketball players enrolled at Wesleyan just prior to my senior year (1963-64). We were privileged to have Mike Redd and Charlie Taylor as teammates. They were both excellent players and even better people.”

Tell our readers about your career.

“After graduating from Wesleyan, I taught and coached at Daviess County Junior High School for one year. Georgia and I were married in June of 1965 and moved to Bloomington, Ind., where I earned my master’s degree at Indiana University. I then went home to Fort Myers to teach and coach at Edison Community College. I took some time away during those years to earn my Ph.D. at I.U., and then in 1977, I was recruited as assistant principal and director of athletics at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colo. I served in many roles there and was A.D. for 22 years. I served as Rocky’s principal my last four years prior to retirement.  I loved the school, which was like a second home to my family and me. I especially enjoyed serving as principal, which was a dream fulfilled.

“When I retired in 2003, the good people at Rocky surprised me by naming the gymnasium for me. They made the announcement at my retirement party, and that was quite an honor. One thing I’m most proud of is that during my tenure, we developed a set of core values which guided everyone at Rocky toward positive actions, decisions and behaviors. In honor of our mascot, we called this ‘The Lobo Way.’ Students and staff quickly embraced and embodied the idea, which interestingly enough, is very similar to what Kentucky calls ‘The Wesleyan Way,’ and it still guides the Lobo family at Rocky today.”

You recently returned to Owensboro after over 30 years. What were your impressions?

“My daughter, Lori, and I were in West Baden for a visit last fall, and we drove down to Owensboro. We had a wonderful time, and it was just as I remembered – friendly and hospitable.  Our first stop was Daviess County Middle School, where I had my first job. Everyone there was so good to us, and Principal Kelly Skeens even treated us to a personal guided tour.

“It was great to be back on the Wesleyan campus, which looks beautiful, and I was so glad to see all the buildings that have been added since my days there in the early ‘60s. Everyone we met was very warm and welcoming, and we were thrilled to meet and spend time with President Darrell. He has great enthusiasm and an obvious love for Wesleyan, along with a strong dedication to an exciting future.”

Why do you give to Wesleyan?

“I feel an obligation to give back to the school that prepared me so well, and I do so in hopes that others may be inspired to give what they can, as well. I owe Wesleyan a great deal. I grew up there, and by the time I left in 1964, I was ready to go out into the world. I enjoy investing in Wesleyan’s future and helping new Panthers have similar experiences.”