Why did you attend Kentucky Wesleyan?
“I grew up in Nebo in Hopkins County, and I considered attending a large state university. But my high school basketball coach, Lyle Dunbar ’61, put me in touch with Guy Strong (KWC basketball coach), and he won me over. I have always been glad I made the decision to attend Wesleyan, which is still a big part of my life.”
Tell us about your years as a student.
“Everybody knew everybody, and that was a good thing. Faculty knew students, and students knew all the faculty and other students. It was a great environment with a lot of support and fun, too.
“All of the coaches, faculty and staff were unbelievable. They wanted to help us, and they did. They gave us their time, which was the best thing they could give us. They were always patient and always available.
“Our professors taught us as individuals. They really got to know us. I particularly remember Joe (English) and Margaret (sociology) Britton, Dr. Robert Dalzell (biology) and Walter Beumel (education). There were so many outstanding faculty members that I hesitate to single them out, but they immediately come to mind.
“Our coaches wanted us to graduate. That was more important to them than winning games. They cared about winning, too, but most of all, they cared about us as students, not as athletes.
“There were six basketball players who were recruited in 1965. We all had basketball scholarships, and we all graduated and spent at least some time teaching. That fact says a lot about our coaches.
“We won three Division II national championships those four years (1966, 1968 and 1969), and we came in third in 1967. The finals in those years were always at Roberts Stadium in Evansville, so lots of fans from KWC and the Owensboro area were able to attend.
“Of course, I have great memories of those four years on the basketball court. Our fans were the greatest, and I had two fine coaches, Guy Strong the first two years and Bob Daniels the last two. I stay in touch with Guy and many of my teammates today, and that means a lot to me. We all got along, and we all wanted to win. We didn’t care who scored or who got the rebound. It was all about the win, and we had a record of 102-18 those four years. I deserve some credit for passing the ball to Dallas Thornton ’69 and George Tinsley ’69!
“As much as I love basketball, my experience in athletics was a bonus. I was here to get an education, and I got great preparation for life – in the classroom and on the basketball court.”
Tell us about your career.
“I was a physical education and health major at KWC with a minor in history and earned a master’s in education at Western Kentucky University. I taught for 36 years (Livermore, Tell City, Daviess County and Owensboro Day Treatment Center) and coached basketball, baseball, tennis and golf some of those years. I retired from the treatment center in 2005. Students who attended were ordered by the courts to be there. I loved every year I taught, but my time at the treatment center was particularly rewarding. I tried to teach them a lot about life that wasn’t in the textbooks. I really worked at it, just like I worked at basketball while at KWC.”
Why do you give to the College?
“I give because I want to support the College that gave so much to me. People I never knew supported KWC when I was a student, and I want to do the same thing for the students of today and tomorrow. It is important to give back.”
Tommy is married to Libby and has a daughter, a stepdaughter, a stepson and eight grandchildren.