Harding 50 years ago

By Raymond Kelly, president of the class of 1970

There’s a saying that goes something like this: the days and weeks sometimes seem to drag by, but the years fly by. My classmates and I can attest to the latter part of that saying. Fifty years has certainly flown by! You know you’re getting old when you see the names of personal friends, coaches and teachers on the buildings and facilities around campus today. 

It was a milestone year for the Harding class of ’70. We all had our graduation from Harding as a major event in our lives. That year also marked many other milestones — not only graduation but first jobs, graduate schools, engagements, weddings and military service. 

The town of Searcy was much smaller then with no freeway type highway. Entertainment and restaurant choices were limited. There were theatres in Kensett and Bald Knob as well as the Rialto in Searcy. Harding brought in The Lettermen and The Association performing groups to entertain students. We also enjoyed the talents of fellow students who sang and performed for us. 

Frozen Delight, The Pit and White House Café were some of the popular places to eat. Several of us guys loved to go eat the Sunday buffet offered by the Holiday Inn motel. Pizza was quite popular even though there wasn’t a sit-down pizza restaurant. However, there was a place that made pizza and delivered it to the dorms. I actually ate pizza for the first time in my life at Harding. 

Much of our entertainment and recreation was enjoyed on campus through club and intramural sports. The intramural softball field was located between the library and Rhodes Field House and is now a parking lot. The tennis courts were east of Rhodes Field House and were later removed to construct Benson Auditorium. 

A large percentage of the student body participated in club and intramural sports, and we loved competing with other students as well as with the always formidable faculty and staff teams. President Ganus, Jimmy Allen and Jerry Jones were among those staff members participating, and it was exciting to play against them. 

Social clubs were an important part of student life, just as they continue to be today. Many of the clubs continue to exist while others have been discontinued. Pledge week was a humbling experience for new members and yes, I wore a “firecracker” made from a toilet paper roll on my head. Banquets and outings to places like Batesville and Blanchard Springs were popular.

The campus was very beautiful then as well as now. We can all be proud of the first class facilities and campus that Harding provides. We met for chapel in the Administration Building, enjoyed devotionals surrounding the “Lily Pool,” and got our mail at the Ganus Student Center located immediately west of the Administration Building. Harding swings were enjoyed by us oldtimers, too. Many of us ate our meals at Pattie Cobb cafeteria, which was located in Cobb’s basement. 

Communications were vastly different in 1970 — no internet, social media, cell phones, and no phones in dorm rooms. It was rare for anyone to have a TV in their room. We exchanged written letters with our family and friends back home and waited for our turn to use the pay phones in the dorm halls to make a call. 

The best memories from my time at Harding have to do with the people — the faculty, staff, administrators and sponsors as well as the other students. President Ganus, Joe Pryor, Ken Davis, Neale Pryor, M.E. Berryhill, Jerry Jones, Harry Olree, Hugh Groover, Jimmy Allen, John Prock, Jess Bucy, Dick Johnson and many others had such a great influence on so many of us. Many lifelong friendships were made with other students, many met their spouses, and we all have a shared bond that comes with being a part of the class of 1970. 

We’ve certainly seen a lot of changes at Harding including new and improved facilities, housing, programs, expanded course offerings and majors. We are proud of the progress and improvements, but there are things we hope never change. We hope and pray that Harding will always be committed to encouraging students to develop an abiding and sustaining faith in Jesus and the hope that we all have through Him. We want to see students continue to prepare themselves for lives of service as well as preparing for their respective careers. 

We all have much for which to be grateful. We should be forever grateful to our parents and the sacrifices they, as well as others, made to enable us to attend Harding. We are grateful for the wonderful, caring teachers, coaches, sponsors and staff who served us. We are grateful for the current faculty and staff. 

We hope and pray for a bright future for Harding University, for success in coping with the current pandemic and accompanying challenges. May Harding University continue to grow and thrive and provide the “Harding experience” to many generations to come. 

Who was your favorite Harding professor, and why?

Joe Cannon, the first visiting missionary to teach for a year at Harding, instilled a deep love for mission work in my heart that still thrives.
Joe Chesser | Jackson, Missouri

Dr. Dean Blackburn Priest, my academic advisor and mentor, who also took a special interest in me at a pivotal time in my life.
Daniel Doak | Vienna, West Virginia

My favorite professor has to be Dr. Kenneth Davis, Uncle Bud. He was strict and he had high expectations. His humility and strong faith were an inspiration to me.
Lana Kaye Jones Gilliam | Blacksburg, Virginia

Dr. Raymond Muncy. He was a wonderful Christian man and such a devoted scholar. I learned so much from him about research and writing and he deepened my love of American history. It was such an accomplishment to earn an “A” in his classes. He was the best!
Gunilda Ensminger Jacobs | Knoxville, Tennessee

Dr. Jerry Jones, he was open to hear your views and support them even if they did differ from his.
James (Dennis) McCall | Fresno, California

Allan Isom. I was a new Christian when I came to Harding and brother Isom’s class gave me a great picture and understanding of God’s plan for the salvation of the world and Christ’s love for me and mankind.
James Rowan McLeod | Searcy, Arkansas

Jimmy Allen was my all-time favorite! He opened my mind to grace in a way I had not experienced previously. I loved his classes!
Sandra Moore Nelson | McKinney, Texas

Leslie Burke, in Greek he was so passionate about and so well prepared for the subject.
Larry Owen | Henderson, Tennessee

Too many, but Dr. Joe (Pryor) gave me a week-long Physical Science 102 course so I could graduate and go to work.
David “Pinky” Reves | Keller, Texas

How can one choose a favorite professor? So many from which to choose. Mr. Rushton took our elementary science class on an overnight “expedition” to hunt for fossils. So fun!
Liz Bennett Reves | Keller, Texas

Dr. Mildred Bell … an example of living a successful life as a single, professional woman.
Anita Wherry | Smyrna, Tennessee

Dr. Ryan, his classes were difficult but engaging and what he taught me has helped me use my gifts in ministry.
Becky Schreiber Wooley | Chattanooga, Tennessee

Dr. Betty Work. She made her students feel like professionals.
Susan “Di Ann” Bomar Williams | Kensett, Arkansas

How do you believe being at Harding made an impact on your life? 

My friends from Harding are still my friends today. 
Joyce Ailes Bien | Verona, Wisconsin

Things came together to gift me with three of the happiest years of my entire life.
James Cooke | Willow Park, Texas 

Harding helped me mature into a Christ-loving wife, mother, grandmother and teacher. I NEVER worried about talking about God in my classroom, EVER.
Sharon Lea Rogers Faries | Alma, Arkansas

The Christian spirit of Harding lives in me today through the spiritual influence of my classmates and the professors at Harding.
D. Paul Gartman | Columbus, Ohio

Through Bible classes and chapel, I began my journey of gaining the personal relationship with my Lord, the strength and faith I needed in order to handle the challenges in my life.
Paula Johnson | High Point, North Carolina

Meeting so many people and teachers who loved each other and demonstrated great faith. It was a great beginning to adult life.
Judy Erwin Kocman | Garland, Texas

Harding opened many doors for us professionally. It is also the place we fell in love sitting on the white swings. Harding changed our lives.
Duane and Diane McKinney | Red Oak, Texas

The people it put into my life. There were many, but the ongoing friendship and mentor at the top of the list was Floyd Daniel. He was always only a phone call away, and I cherish the letters from him that I have kept.
Boyd Pate | Winfield, Alabama

I could socialize and do intramural athletics with kindred spirits in college without needing to drink or do drugs.
David Roll | Caledonia, New York

It extended my Christian upbringing for
four more years after leaving home and lifetime friendships!
Rachel Cook Scott | Georgetown, Texas

The atmosphere at Harding with first-class professors and excellent student colleagues was something I never found outside the Harding campus.
Larry Smith | Hampton, South Carolina

It gave me a network of friends and contacts all over the world who I can call on at any time.
Roy Steele | North Richland Hills, Texas

Strengthened my love for the Lord, wanting to do more each day for him and his church. Gave me self-confidence in daily activities of life, being able to speak in public, having friends of like faith, being taught by such wonderful instructors. They were such a great example.
Bonnie Lee Dailey Weber | Fleming, Ohio

What do you consider your favorite or most humorous incident during your time at Harding?

We thought it was amusing that we named the bathroom stalls in Pattie Cobb dorm: 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Jude.
Martha Bibee Boston | Wilmington, Delaware

Favorite times were club functions and outings. I loved going to Petit Jean Mountain.
Joyce Pippin Cox | Argyle, Texas

During our sophomore year Chorale trip, we performed the life of Christ in song. During “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” Dr. Baggett looked up at the cross behind us. His eyes reflected such love and thankfulness, I remain impacted to this very day.
Carol Fields Davis | Ridgefield, Washington

I thoroughly enjoyed going to small congregations in rural Arkansas and preaching on Sundays. I was always invited into a member’s family home for Sunday dinner. This allowed me to be able to know the people and learn to appreciate them.
Joel Davis | Ridgefield, Washington

Being thrown in the Lily Pool in front of the Administration building late on a cold December night after announcing our engagement.
Keith Hawkins | Owens Cross Roads, Alabama

Getting to go on a USO tour for Harding, visiting military installations in Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland and Labrador. Hard work but unforgettable memories.
Nancy Ingram Keiser | Buda, Texas

When my dad came to get me my freshman year at Christmas break, he found me hanging through the transom over our room door to unlock it because my roommate left for home when I was in the shower!
Roger Lamb | Chelmsford, Massachusetts

The first day of chapel my freshman year, I went to my assigned seat and sitting next to me was a handsome young man. We have been sitting together ever since then. (I married him when I graduated from Harding.)
Lynn Greenway Lucas | Maumelle, Arkansas

During a choral concert, all of the basses and tenors played “hot potato” with an alarm clock. Kenneth Davis Jr. was not amused.
Arthur Shearin | Searcy, Arkansas

In jest, our club voted to ask Dr. J.D. Bales, the very dry, very scholarly Bible professor, to be the after-dinner speaker at our banquet. No one could believe it; however, his talk was hilarious. He kept us in stitches and was often asked by others after that.
Joe Stokes | Deer Park, Texas

During Saturday morning marching band practice on a field near the track that ran behind the campus, a short train rolled by. No big deal, but rehearsal broke up when the engineer threw candy.
Hanaba Munn Welch | Abilene, Texas

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