2013 Class

Cleo Sanders Bailey

Cleo Sanders Bailey graduated from Hellier High School in 1937 before enrolling at Pikeville College where she earned her two-year teaching certificate and her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. 

Bailey was the embodiment of Hellier High School, from the opening of the new building in 1937 until its closing in 1967. A child of the Great Depression, she had a special compassion for the less fortunate. She touched thousands of lives as a teacher, advocate and motivator and kept in touch with many of her former students throughout their lives.

Bailey was sentimental. Photos, programs, newspaper clippings and notes were tucked away and kept as precious keepsakes. Along with a photo from 1937 with a friend on campus, a cap and gown photo of her on her 1958 commencement program and a group photo of her first class of students, is a letter typed on letterhead stamped “Congress of the United States, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.” Bailey kept the letter signed by Carl D. Perkins thanking her for her service to the students of Pike County congratulating her retirement. 

She was a member of the Kentucky and Pike County Retired Teacher’s Associations, Anna O. Young Order of Eastern Star and Marrowbone Missionary Baptist Church. She was also a Kentucky Colonel. 

She was married to George H. Bailey. Their son, George H. Bailey II (1979), and his wife Letha (1979, 2001), are also graduates of Pikeville College.


Rev. David Blythe

Rev. David Blythe received his A.B. degree from Hanover College in Indiana in 1886 and graduated from Lane Theological Seminary in 1889. During the summers of 1887 and 1888 he served as a supply pastor in Eastern Kentucky and grew to love the region and the people of the area. He came to know their needs, particularly their need for education.

When he graduated in 1889, the young Blythe was immediately invited to become the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Pikeville and principal of the Pikeville Collegiate Institute. With the church and school established and growing together, as was the Presbyterian custom, it was natural that the church pastor was chosen as the principal of the school. Today he is recognized as the university’s first president.

Blythe worked beside the builders in digging and laying the foundation for the new four-room school that is now known as the Academy Building

An early student recalled, “Rev. Blythe certainly laid a sound, solid foundation for Pikeville College… He worked with his head, his hands and his heart.”

The young principal went even further in his zeal to complete the school building by contributing $1,000 toward its construction, more than his first year’s salary.

Blythe soon took interest in one of the faculty members at the new school, Miss Lucy Dodds. The two were married in 1890 and started housekeeping in a little four-room cottage on Main Street. Mrs. Blythe shared with her husband a heartfelt love for young people and wished to see them educated. Since housing was a hindrance to some, she worked with Warren Memorial Church and the College Street Church of Louisville to construct a 10-room frame dormitory, Hendrick Hall.

In 1891, Rev. Blythe’s health suffered from a severe attack of typhoid fever and the Blythes moved from Pikeville since he was no longer able to work. The school attendance had grown under his administration and the new institution now held first place among schools in Eastern Kentucky.

“Rev. and Mrs. Blythe gave us ideals, inspiration, love of missions and, most of all, a splendid example of a Christian,” recalled Margery May Looney, a young student who attended the opening of the school in 1889. (Pikeville College Looks to the Hills, Alice J. Kinder)


Tivis Branham

Tivis Branham devoted 46 years of his life to students and to education before retiring in 1997.

As a young boy he loved going to school, competing in spelling and math competitions and absorbing all the knowledge he could get from his surroundings. He worked alongside his father in the mines at the age of 14. His father also served as a trustee for Lookout School. These experiences laid the groundwork for this strong-willed and competitive young man. At an early age, he began collecting pictures and information on all the schools he learned about and continued collecting through all of the years of his work in the school system.

Branham began his college education at Pikeville Junior College in 1945 but it was interrupted by military service. Once back from serving his country, he returned to college on the G.I. Bill and completed his bachelor’s degree in education in 1953. He also attended Eastern Kentucky State College, East Carolina State College, Western Kentucky State College and Morehead State University. Branham received a master’s degree, Rank I, certification in supervision, certification in director of pupil personnel and completed his superintendent’s certification.

He began teaching in the Pike County school system in a one-room school located at Poor Bottom. He taught grades K–8 with an enrollment of 44 students. He later taught seventh grade at Lookout Elementary.

During his tenure in the school system’s central office, he served as director of pupil personnel, supervisor of instruction, administrative assistant and assistant superintendent. He taught graduate classes for Morehead State University on the campuses of Pikeville and Prestonsburg. 

He and his wife Delphia Justice Branham have two children, Danny Allen Branham of Frankfort and Judith Ann Branham of Pikeville. Danny and his wife, Laura Beth (Deaton) Branham, have two children, Laura Danielle and Danny Allen II. Branham is a member of Grace Baptist Church at Shelbiana.


Helen Baars Colley

From a very early age, it was apparent to those who knew Helen Baars Colley that she was extremely bright, exceptionally passionate and extraordinarily gifted. At a time when many young women were fortunate to obtain even an eighth grade education, Colley demonstrated both her love of learning and the depth of her determination by graduating from Wheelwright High School at the age of 14.

In 1947, she married the love of her life, T. T. Colley, and had two children, Teddy and Cam, who both attended Pikeville College. After graduating from Transylvania University in 1953 with a degree in education. Colley earned her degree from Transylvania University and studied music at Pikeville College.

She began her career in education at Elkhorn City High School. She then taught briefly at Pikeville High School before returning to Wheelwright High School, where she had the great honor of serving as band director at her alma mater. In 1968, Colley accepted the position of band and choral teacher at Virgie High School, where she remained until her retirement in 1989.

It was her role as band director at Virgie for which Colley is most widely remembered. The numerous achievements of her marching bands, concert bands, majorettes, drill teams and field commanders over the course of three decades resulted in the Virgie High School band being lauded throughout the country and established Colley’s legendary status in the music field. Under her leadership, Virgie’s band won top honors in countless festivals and competitions. In addition, Colley’s bands were honored to perform on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, Busch Gardens, Walt Disney World, the state capital during Gov. Paul Patton’s inauguration and at the dedication of Fishtrap Dam, where her band played “Hail to the Chief” for U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. During her tenure as band director, Virgie’s band was also invited to perform at the Festival of Lights in Florida, Amsterdam Music Festival in Holland, and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

After her retirement in 1989, Colley focused her time and attention on the other love of her life - her grandchildren, Rachel Campbell Dotson, Colley and Elizabeth Stevens and Mitchell Colley. 


Anna C. Craft

Anna C. Craft has led a distinguished career in education, both as a teacher and as an administrator. Craft retired from Letcher County Schools in June 2013 where she served as superintendent for 12 years. She is a former preschool, Title I, and special education director for Letcher County Schools and guidance counselor for Letcher County Technical School.

Craft developed music and drama programs that were recognized by the National School Board Association and the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network in 2007. She began piano classes for all third and fourth grade students because of the correlation to student achievement in mathematics and science, which was recognized by the Kentucky School Board’s PEAK award in 2011. She established school-based health clinics in all Letcher County Schools in 2012 in partnership with Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation, which has become a model for schools in Kentucky.

A graduate of Fleming-Neon High School, Craft received her bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Transylvania University, master’s degree in guidance and counseling from University of Kentucky, and Rank I, superintendent, supervision, elementary and secondary principalship and special education director endorsements from Morehead State University.

Craft is a member of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, American Association of School Administrators, Kentucky Educational Association, Superintendents’ Advisory Committee to the Kentucky Commissioner of Education and First Baptist Church of Whitesburg. 

She has been honored with the Kentucky Music Education Administrator of the Year Award in 2009 and the Kentucky Valley Education Legacy Award in 2013 and has served two terms as chairperson of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative.

Craft has three children, Jason Scott Kincer of London, Aaron Clay Kincer of Chattanooga, Tenn., and Emily Anne Kincer of Whitesburg.


Charlie Francis

Charlie Francis spent the majority of his career sharing his teaching philosophy with the students and staff of Pikeville College. A well-known and highly respected educator, Francis was born in Knott County to George and Emma Dixon Francis in 1937 and graduated from Carr Creek High School in 1955. 

 He received a basketball scholarship at Pikeville College where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in secondary education in 1959. After graduation, he began his teaching career at Belfry High School. Fulfilling his desire to return to his alma mater, he joined the faculty in 1966 and spent the following 27 years serving as a professor, director of student teaching, vice president of student affairs and director of the Appalachian Graduate Consortium. He was also proud to have been inducted into the Pikeville College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995 for his contribution as a member of the Bears’ basketball team.

Francis obtained both his master’s degree and Ed.S. from Eastern Kentucky University. In 1962, he married the love of his life, Becky Jo Bevens. They were blessed with two daughters, Kathi and Charla, and six grandchildren. He and Becky were married for nearly 40 years when he passed away in 2002. 

He was an inspiration to so many students and made a positive impact on their lives. Francis was a consummate professional who gained the admiration and respect of both his students and peers. He is remembered by all who knew him as a man of great character and integrity.


Frank and Mattie Justice

Frank and Mattie Justice have long recognized the importance of quality educational opportunities for children. The desire to “give something back” began early with the couple, who spent many hours volunteering in school activities as their children were growing up.

During the last several years they strengthened their resolve to help others through the Frank and Mattie Justice Charitable Foundation. Whether it’s providing computers for the classroom or scholarships for college-bound students, the family’s generosity and commitment to the youth of this region has been significant. A personal love of learning and a desire to help children develop their full potential have guided the family in their endeavors.

Frank and Mattie were recognized in 2002 when they received the Joseph W. Kelly Award, presented annually by the Kentucky Board of Education to business people who have offered outstanding leadership and service toward promoting school improvement for Kentucky children. Both have been recognized by Pikeville Independent Schools; Frank as a distinguished alumnus and Mattie as an honorary distinguished alumna. In 2004, Pikeville College awarded the Justices doctor of humane letters degrees for their contributions to the institution. They were also recognized in 2011 with Honorary Alumni Awards from the University of Pikeville Alumni Association.

Frank, a native of Pike County and Mattie, who grew up in Winchester, have been outstanding business and civic leaders. Devoted parents and life partners, the couple has four children, nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.


Betty Porter

Whether in the classroom, at church, in the community or her alma mater, Betty Porter’s service to others is endless. A Floyd County native, Porter graduated from Betsy Layne High School, received her bachelor’s degree from Pikeville College, where she was honored as salutatorian, and her master’s degree as a reading specialist from Eastern Kentucky University. She served as an educator in the Floyd County School System for 36 years. She taught kindergarten at Mullins Elementary and music and reading at John M. Stumbo Elementary and Harold Elementary before spending 25 years teaching reading at Prestonsburg Elementary.

A member of Calvary Baptist Church, Porter has been recognized for her dedication and support. In addition to being a Sunday School teacher and singing in the church choir, she served as church pianist for 25 years. She has quietly continued her service to others by preparing food for shut-ins and making sure others had transportation to church activities.

As a member of the University of Pikeville’s Alumni Board, Porter has been a faithful volunteer at meetings, events, the annual phonathon and serving students and fans during tailgate parties at the Bears’ home football games. 

She is also a member of the Floyd County Retired Teachers, KEA, Pikeville Women’s Club and the Pikeville Women’s Club Book Club.

Porter says her adult life has been spent “working, educating and enjoying all opportunities given to me.” She and her late husband John have two children, John R. Porter and Susan P. Wallen, four grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.


Johnny Ray Turner

Education has always been Senator Johnny Ray Turner’s top priority as a teacher, coach and administrator and throughout his legislative career. As an advocate in Frankfort, he knows first-hand that educating Kentucky’s children is important for our future.

An educator for 28 years, Turner taught at Salyersville High School, McDowell Elementary School, McDowell High School and Johnson Central High School. He served as dean of students at Johnson Central High. Turner is a long-time basketball coach to both boys and girls and was named the 15th Region “Coach of the Year” in 2000. A former athletic director, he also coached baseball, golf and cross-country. 

Turner began his service in the Kentucky State Senate in 2001, representing the 29th District. In 2003, he was elected caucus chair for the Senate Democratic Caucus and still remains in that leadership position. His current senate committee appointments include the budget review subcommittees on primary, secondary and postsecondary education. He has sponsored successful legislation that has made schools safer, improved drug abuse prevention and expanded affordable housing opportunities for certified school employees. He served a number of years on the Senate Education Committee, which allowed him to help draft legislation that will benefit Kentucky’s children for years to come. Turner’s recognition for his contributions to education include the KIDS First Award (2008), Floyd County Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame (2009), Floyd County Retired Teachers Achievement Award (2010), Johnson Central Hall of Fame (2011) and the 2012 Paul Patton Education Advocacy Award (2012).

He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Morehead State University. Turner is always seeking opportunities for the state to assist local school districts, especially in Eastern Kentucky, positively impact education. It is not surprising to know that he still spends time in the classrooms in eastern Kentucky. Turner and his wife Linda have two daughters, Margalee Conlee and Melissa Turner.


Geraldine Welch

Even as a small child Geraldine Welch always wanted to be a teacher. Fulfilling her dream, she taught in the Pike County school system for 40 years, 39 years at Bevins Elementary School at Sidney following her first year at Sharondale Elementary School on Pond Creek.

Welch graduated as an honorarian from Belfry High School in 1955. She attended Pikeville Junior College for two years and graduated in 1957. She began teaching with two years of college while continuing her studies, attending summer school and Saturday classes. In 1960 she received her bachelor’s degree from Pikeville College and later pursued a master’s degree and Rank I from Morehead State University.

While teaching, Welch was a member of the National Education Association and the Kentucky Education Association. After retirement she joined the Kentucky Retired Teachers Association and the Pike County Retired Teachers. She is a member of the Sidney Missionary Baptist Church where she has taught Sunday School classes and is presently supervising children’s church. She was honored with the “Teacher Who Made a Difference” award presented by the University of Kentucky. She is also a Kentucky Colonel.

Welch and her late husband Frank have two daughters who live in Lexington, Melody Coyle and husband Rob and Claudine Barrow and husband Billy. Their three grandsons are Clay Coyle, Tanner Barrow and Brody Barrow. Carrying on the tradition set by their parents, Melody and Claudine are teachers in Lexington.

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