Golden Wildcat Committee members look back on their time at UK

The UK Class of 1969 is celebrating its 50th class reunion, and we are proud to welcome back our Golden Wildcats to campus for Homecoming this weekend. We talked with several of our Golden Wildcat reunion Committee members, and this is what they had to tell us about their time and UK, what they have done since graduation and what they are looking forward to at UK’s 104th Homecoming.


golden wildcat pics bc

BETSY COX

Name: Betsy (Coleman) Cox
Degree: Interior Design, College of Arts & Sciences
Current city of residence: Whitefish, Montana
Family: Spouse: Woody Cox (UK ‘67, ‘69) Children Joe, John, Beth. All teachers and married to teachers Grandchildren: Addison, Dominic, Lily, Stella

Q: What are some of your fondest memories of UK?
A: I am third generation UK graduate and steeped in the traditions. The historical context of my years at UK impacted me greatly. With both my father and brother having gone to Vietnam, the events of that time weighed heavily on me throughout my time at UK. This year I had the opportunity to spend nearly a month in Vietnam and while there participated in a 160 km bike ride/fundraiser for Children of Vietnam. Dr. John Kuiper was my advisor. He along with another favorite professor, Dr. Thomas D Clark, were the epitome of understanding of greatness in higher education instruction and they helped me set high expectations for myself.

Q: What did you do after you left UK?
A: I started my career in interior design in Lexington with a brief stint at Purcell’s, taking the position held by a Lexington icon in the field but soon moving to Frankfort and then on to Alexandria, Virginia, where I implemented an art education program in Fairfax County Public Schools and later started my own interdesign company. A move to St Paul, Minnesota, and a career change to the airline industry which included design of a new ice scoop for inflight services which won recognition. Woody and I retired early and bought a large B&B in 2002 in Montana where we are now fully retired.

Q: What are you doing now?
A: Fully retired — hiking, biking and traveling.

Q: How have you stayed involved with the University of Kentucky?
A: The UK Alumni Association has been a focus of the past six years and an amazing opportunity to re-connect and be inspired by the incredible growth of UK. It gives me pride to see and learn of my alma mater’s endeavors and accomplishments.

Q: What are you looking forward to with the Golden Wildcat Reunion?
A: Meeting friends and taking in the campus and Lexington.

Q: Why did you volunteer for this committee?
A: Coming off of six years on the UK Alumni Association Board of Directors, I wanted another opportunity to participate with alumni.


golden wildcat pics dg

DAN GIPSON

Name:  Dan Gipson (Full Name:  Danny Joe Gipson)
Degree: B. S., Chemical Engineering
Current city of residence:  Villa Hills, Kentucky
Family:  Wife:  Susan; Stepdaughter:  Sylvia Wessel, UK Alumna; Stepson:  Bill Dotson, UK Alumnus

Q: What are some of your fondest memories of UK? 
A: Many friendships made in College of Engineering; UK sports; Lexington area social opportunities, including Keeneland; and UK events and off-campus venues offering local and national musical entertainment; playing pool in the Student Center

Q: What did you do after you left UK? 
A: I worked for Ashland Inc. (formerly Ashland Oil) for 34 years. I lived in Ashland, Kentucky 30 years, then moved with Ashland Inc. to Northern Kentucky in 1999.

Q: What are you doing now? 
A: I’ve been retired since 2004. I enjoy domestic and world travel and UK basketball and football games.

Q: How have you stayed involved with the University of Kentucky? 
A: I was president of UK Alumni Association for the 1992-1993 term and have since been on the UKAA Board of Directors. I was on the Greater Ashland UK Alumni Club board for several years and served as president. I have been on Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati UK Alumni Club’s board since 2000.I’m a season ticket holder for football and attend several UK basketball games at Rupp Arena and the SEC and NCAA Tournament games. I am a UK Fellow and a member of the Engineering Quadrangle Society

Q: How did your UK experience shape what you did after graduation? 
A: Several of my Chemical Engineering classmates also accepted positions with Ashland Inc. and made the transition much easier due to their support and friendship. My education prepared me for and my degree qualified me for the job I wanted with a great Kentucky-based corporation

Q: What are you looking forward to with the Golden Wildcat Reunion? 
A: Seeing former classmates and enjoying the activities offered for the attendees

Q: Why did you volunteer for this committee? 
A: My personal interest in the event coupled with wanting to be of service to the UK Alumni Association and the Class of 1969. Friends have served on prior homecoming committees and enjoyed the experience

Q: Anything else you would like to add about your time at UK or after? 
A: During my years at UK, essentially every male student was concerned about likely service in the military and specifically in Vietnam upon our graduation.


golden wildcat pics lsg

LAURA SHEFFLER GRAY

Name: Laura Sheffler Gray
Degree:  ’69 Bachelors in Arts and Sciences; ’75 Masters in Education
Current city of residence: Midway, Kentucky
Family: Husband of 51 years Ronald; two grown children, Kevin and Karen; and two grandsons

Q: What are some of your fondest memories of UK?

  • The beautiful UK campus: gorgeous fall colors and vibrant spring blossoms
  • Always “dressing up” in elegant dresses and madras miniskirts with huge safety pins
  • Mums for Homecoming and dances with awesome live bands
  • Anthropology & English Lit classes
  • The Newman Center
  • AXO sisters
  • Watching TV at the Student Center
  • Our splendid old library with massive desks and endless shelves of books

Q: What did you do after you left UK?
A: The beginning of a fulfilling life as an educator — 34 years in over six different systems.

Q: What are you doing now?
A: I am always involved in volunteer projects whether garden clubs, women’s clubs, teaching Bible School, or offices in education fields. My husband and I traveled a great deal with his associations and made lifelong friends in the construction industry. We raised two beautiful children and made close ties to other “parent athletes.”

I am still volunteering and am an officer in several professional organizations: Business and Professional Women, Saint Joseph Hospital Guild Board, District officer in Kentucky Retired Teachers Association.  I am honored to work 8-10 hours a week at the Midway Branch Library. We spend the cold months in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Q: How have you stayed involved with the University of Kentucky?
A: Like any Blue-blooded UK Wildcat, I continually follow the BBN. For years we had season tickets to football and basketball, but “old age” has slowed down our attendance. Over the years as a teacher, I had so many UK student teachers and stayed closely connected to the College of Education. We have always been members of the UK Alumni Association, and are now Life Members.

Q: How did your UK experience shape what you did after graduation?
A: By installing a tremendous pride for “The University” and an enduring love of all things Kentucky. What absolutely gifted graduates and writers have blessed our state and our appreciation of all our citizens. UK has taught me to always give back.

Q: Why did you volunteer for this committee?
A: What an absolute honor to acknowledge all that UK has meant to me over 50 years. I hope I can help all Golden Wildcats celebrate this wonderful institution and the promise it holds for future students, our state, and our nation.


golden wildcat pics ds

DANIEL SPARKS

Name: Daniel Lee Sparks
Degree: BS in Chemical Engineering (1969)
Current city of residence: Cypress, Texas
Family: Janet Sparks (wife), Daniel Sparks (son), Pamela (Sparks) Kuhn (daughter and 1998 UK Grad) and five lovely granddaughters

Q: What are your fondest memories of UK?
A: Standing in line for the basketball games. This was a real social event due to the fact that the seats were given to students on a first come basis and that you had to get line hours before the varsity game started. Bowling at the Wildcat Lanes. Yes there was a bowling alley on campus. Hanging out at the Student Center and playing pool. Pickup basketball games at Alumni Gym. Usual there was a player or two from the UK basketball team there. In our years at UK it was most frequently Mike Casey.

Q: What did you do after you left UK?
A: I spent two years as an engineer for Ashland Oil in Ashland and nine years as a chemical agent for Ashland Oil in Dublin, Ohio. I served 37 years as vice president of Industrial Solvents and co-owner and managing partner of Blue Grass Chemical Specialties LLC. My partner in Blue Grass was the owner of Industrial Solvents and lived in Houston, Texas.

Q: What are you doing now?
A: I am retired

Q: How have you stayed involved with UK?
A: Since 1982, I have been involved with the Greater Houston Area UK Alumni Club, and I served 19 years on the UK Nation Alumni Board.

Q: How did you UK experience shape what you did after graduation?
A: Basically my engineering degree gave me the confidence and technical background to pursue any challenge. As well as making contacts in college that would allow me success in future years.

Q: What are you looking forward to with the Golden Wildcat Reunion?
A: Seeing people that I have not seen in years. Sharing my college experiences with people who I did not know in college but we were at the same time.

Q: Why did you volunteer for this committee?
A: Since I served 19 years on the National Alumni Board I thought that I could add something to the reunion. Also, I was asked by my college classmate and longtime friend Dan Gipson.


RICHARD BEAN

Name:  Richard Bean
Degree:   BS in Commerce (Business and Economics)Richard Bean
Current city of residence: Cape Coral, Florida

Q: What are some of your fondest memories of UK?
A: Attending sporting events with friends

Q: What did you do after you left UK? 
A: I became a bank teller before I served for 2 ½ years in the Army

Q: What are you doing now? 
A: I have retired from the banking world where I loaned to builders and developers

Q: How have you stayed involved with the University of Kentucky? 
A: I started with my local Alumni group in Louisville.  I was then happy to be elected to the National UK Alumni Board and four years later was also happy to serve as its President.

Q: How did your UK experience shape what you did after graduation? 
A: While the classroom gave me knowledge, Phi Gamma Delta gave me the experience of working with others and social skills, I hope.

Q: What are you looking forward to with the Golden Wildcat Reunion? 
A: I would like to see past classmates and hear their stories.  It is always great to be on campus.

Q: Why did you volunteer for this committee? 
A: I was asked to serve and was honored to accept.

 

 

 

 

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