CU Faculty Emeritus, Dr. Bobby R. Himes, Dies June 28 at 76 Years of Age

CU Faculty Emeritus, Dr. Bobby R. Himes, Dies June 28 at 76 Years of Age
Bobby Himes, center, poses with Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, left, chancellor at the University of Richmond, and General James T. Conway, commandant of the United States Marine Corps and guest speaker at the May 2008 commencement ceremony. (Campbellsville University photo by André Tomaz)

By Joan C. McKinney, director of university communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Retired Campbellsville University professor, Dr. Bobby R. Himes, who taught at CU for 40 years, died at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 28 at his home. He was 76.

Himes, who was a cancer survivor and who was known for his upbeat, thumbs-up sign and “It’s a good day” when asked how he was, taught 7,940 students in his career, according to grade books he kept in his possession.

“I’m a believer in young people,” he said at a retirement dinner in his honor April 30, 2001. He calls each of his former students, “One of my kids.”

“Every morning I get up and take one day at a time,” he said.

“I’m the luckiest man alive,” he said at that dinner. “I’ve learned who I am. I’m Bob Himes from Hartford, Ky., and I’m the happiest man alive.”

“All of us at Campbellsville University express our deepest condolences to Erlene Himes and the family following the death of Dr. Bobby Himes,” said Dr. Michael V. Carter, president of Campbellsville University.

“It has been my privilege and honor to know Dr. Himes these past nine years, and his 40 plus years of teaching and service at Campbellsville University are exemplary of the servant leadership of the CU family.

“There are literally thousands of men and women in Kentucky and beyond who studied history and political science in the classes taught by Dr. Himes. Even more important, there are many alumni of CU, as well as individuals around the community and state, who were mentored by Bobby and who benefited from his wisdom and leadership.

“Dr. Bobby Himes will be missed not only by his family, but he will be missed by all who knew him and counted him as a friend and professional colleague.

“We thank God for the life and career of Dr. Bobby Himes and his service to Campbellsville University and humanity.”

John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations at CU and executive assistant to the president, has known Himes for many years. At the retirement dinner, Chowning said Himes was with him when he was ordained, when he surrendered to the ministry and when he himself had cancer.

“We are saddened by the death of Dr. Bobby Himes,” Chowning said. “He was a close personal friend and served as a mentor and teacher to countless young men and women during his more than four decades of distinguished teaching at Campbellsville University.

“His love of CU, and his students, has been demonstrated by numerous actions and contributions. Certainly, his knowledge of history and love of the political process were contagious to all who knew him.

“Bobby had many, many friends at all levels of government and politics and was able to transcend political alignments in an era of partisan divisions.

“We express our deepest sympathy to his wife and family and hold them in our prayers and thoughts. We have all been blessed and enriched by having known and worked with Bobby Himes.”

Dr. Robert S. Clark, who knew Himes for the 40 years each taught at CU, said, “He loved relationships with his colleagues, family and friends.”

“He was a people person. He was always positive and enthusiastic in all endeavors.”

Clark said Himes was a “strong Goldwater Republican” and had been a Republican leader since 1964. But he said, “He loved a few Democrats too.”

At the retirement dinner, another friend of Himes’, Neal Harding, a 1964 graduate of CU, said, “I can’t say a bad thing about him.”

“He’s a great man, and I enjoy being with him.”

Himes was often thought of as a father figure to students, including Jonathan Copley, a 1998 graduate of CU. “You are one of God’s truly amazing people,” Copley wrote in a letter to him. “To a great many people, you are CU.”

Himes was a veteran of the Korean Conflict having served his country honorably in the United States Air Force as a staff sergeant and an aircraft inspector.

Since 1955, Himes had been on a college campus – either as a student or a member of the faculty. He began his career in teaching at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. for two years. He came to CU in 1961 at the age of 29 and retired in 2001 as history and political science professor.

Himes was a huge supporter of Lady Tiger Basketball at Campbellsville University.

Long-time coach Donna Wise said, “Bobby was not only a close friend of mine for 32 years, he was a friend of the Lady Tiger Basketball program. Many Lady Tigers have already phoned, extremely upset.

“He was an avid fan and an upbeat personality for everyone involved. We have honored Bobby for several years in our awards banquet with the Bob Himes Award, which honors dedication, determination and loyalty. That’s what I will always think of when I think of him. He will be missed dearly.”

Dr. Damon Eubank, professor of history at Campbellsville University, met Himes when he was an 18-year-old freshman at CU.

“Bobby Himes influenced my life in several ways. Because I liked his class, I decided to major in history. With his encouragement and advice, I pursued graduate work. Later, when Campbellsville needed to hire another historian, Mr. Himes remembered I was in grad school and asked me to interview for the job.

“Through Bobby Himes’ influence, encouragement and advice as my professor, I chose my major and pursued advanced study. Through his influence as my colleague, I learned how to relate better to my students and deal with people. I owe much of what I am as a professional educator to his great influence.

“I could have had no better professional mentor and will proudly always consider myself one of ‘Bobby’s boys.’ I will miss him on both a personal and professional level and my heart goes out to his family, whom Bobby dearly loved.”

“Bob Himes was an outstanding history and political science professor at Campbellsville University,” said Dr. Frank Cheatham, vice president for academic affairs at CU.

“He made history come to life for his students. His commitment to students and the university were exemplary throughout a very productive career.

“Bobby spent much time over the years outside the classroom helping students. In many cases, over the years, he actually took money from his pocket to assist students in need.

“His positive attitude and caring nature will definitely be missed by thousands of students he taught and the many colleagues he worked with since joining the faculty in 1961.”

Dr. J. Chester Porter, a 1962 graduate of Campbellsville University, and who is now a member of the CU Board of Trustees and chairman of the board at the University of Louisville, said Himes was “one of the top professors” he had ever had including those in law school.

“He was a class act guy and a fantastic gentleman who was always putting the interests of his students ahead of any agenda.”

Porter said, “CU was very, very fortunate to have attracted the type of professor Bobby Himes was and to have him spend his entire career at CU.”

Himes grew up in Hartford, Ky., of which he was very proud. He had written a book, “Life in the Shadows of Hartford College and Campbellsville University,” which is a collection of essays Himes had written about his life and experiences. He graduated from Hartford High School in 1950.

A long-time friend of his, Hayward Spinks of Hartford, who is a Campbellsville College graduate and who has been a long-time member of the CU Board of Trustees, said Himes was so proud that Spinks was a graduate of Campbellsville and on the board.

Spinks and Himes both graduated from high school in 1950, three miles apart: Himes from Hartford High School and Spinks from Beaver Dam High School.

“Bob was so happy to be a part of Campbellsville University and to have been able to help so many young people. His life-long ambition was to help others because he’d had such a hard time.

“He was bigger than life, and all of our lives have been enriched for having been his friend. I can’t say enough good things about Bob. He was great, and we all miss him.”

Himes received his bachelor of arts in history and political science from Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, Ky., in 1959, his master of arts in social science from Appalachian State University in 1961, and did other graduate work at Western Kentucky University and did doctoral studies at Vanderbilt University.

He was presented the Campbellsville College Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1994. At CU’s commencement in 1999, Himes received the honorary doctorate of humane letters.

Himes taught under five CU presidents in his tenure at CU – Drs. John Carter, J.K. Powell, W.R. Davenport, Kenneth W. Winters and Michael V. Carter.

Winters said, “I am extremely saddened at the news of Mr. Bobby Himes’ passing. For many years Bobby worked tirelessly for Campbellsville University and indeed for its students.

“Bobby truly felt that CU must extend its influence beyond our home campus, and he worked aggressively to help make such extension of our services possible throughout Central Kentucky.”

Winters said, “Seldom in my career have I met faculty or staff with more commitment to their students than that of Mr. Bobby Himes.”

Himes worked under Davenport the longest of the presidents of Campbellsville University.

“Bob Himes’ life was a great positive influence for thousands. Our loss is great,” Davenport said.

“Obviously, his family’s loss is beyond measure. We pray that Our Heavenly Father will provide for them the blessings of His peace and comfort,” he said.

Davenport said the Campbellsville University family has “lost a champion.”

“His dedication to his students and his commitment to being the best that a professor could be were outstanding. His encouragement and support for the entire institution were tireless.”

“Our community has lost a prominent statesman who modeled citizen leadership for all of us to follow,” Davenport said. “He spent his energies making things better for so many. He will be greatly missed by all of us.”

Another person with whom Himes worked for a long time at CU was Al Hardy, dean of academic support.

“Bob Himes was one of the most sensitive men I have ever known. He had the ability to sense when someone who was hurting and needed help. Often he would ask about a person and say he or she is struggling and is there any way we can get them help,” Hardy said.

“He was a person of academic integrity and expected his students to excel. Bob loved to take his old grade books and go back through them and call the name of those who had succeeded.”

Hardy said, “On a personal note Bob was one of my best friends. He loved to tell about the first time he met me was when he dated a girl who was enrolled at Campbellsville Junior College. He had traveled from Owensboro and as he said, ‘“The first person I saw was this guy wearing the loudest colored pants I had ever seen in my life. That was Al Hardy.’”

“Also, We had not been working at CU very long when a financial crisis hit. As I mentioned earlier, he sensed a problem and asked if he could help. I mentioned we needed to borrow some money and didn’t know if the bank had known me long enough to loan to me. His response was give a day and let’s see what we can do.

“A day later he handed me the cash needed and said you can pay me back at no interest. After paying him back he would often ask, “Are you doing OK?”

“We have lost a great teacher, motivator, encourager, and most of all a friend,” Hardy said.

Himes was twice named the Campbellsville/Taylor County Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year, the 2001 Business and Professional Women’s Club Man of the Year and the 2004 “Central Kentucky News-Journal” Man of the Year. He received the “Outstanding Social Studies Teacher” Award from the Kentucky Council for the Social Studies in 1982.

He was an active member of the Republican Party having served as chairman for many years. He was a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels.

Himes led many summer tours to Europe and was an antique car collector. He also previously owned a Gulf Service Station on Lebanon Avenue in Campbellsville.

Himes was a member of Campbellsville Baptist Church.

He is survived by his wife, Erlene Himes, to whom he had been married since Aug. 20, 1961; one daughter and son-in-law, Renee and John Abell of Columbia; one grandson, Aaron DeMers and his wife, Angie; three great-grandchildren: Austin DeMers, Sierra DeMers and Mackenzie DeMers; one brother and three sisters: Freddie B. Himes of Charleston, S.C.; Doris “Bill” Mason of Beaver Dam, Ky.; Janice “Howard” Stone of Hartford, and Joan Himes of Prospect, Ky.; three nephews and one niece: Terry Mason of Japan, Zachary Ashby and Adam Ashby of Hartford and Lisa Mason-Chaney of Maryland; and many other relatives and friends and associates.

He was also preceded in death by one brother and two sisters: Billy J. Himes, Betty Lois Himes and Ethel Rae Himes. He was born Oct. 22, 1931 to the late Elbert Himes and Ethel Whitler Himes.

Graveside services will be at 2 p.m. CDT Friday, July 4 at the Oakwood Cemetery in Hartford, Ky. by Dr. Robert S. Clark and the Rev. Wesley O. Hanson.

Parrott & Ramsey Funeral Home in Campbellsville, and Miller-Schapmire Funeral Home in Hartford are in charge of arrangements.

The family requests that expressions of sympathy take the form of donations to the Bill Himes Scholarship at Campbellsville University or the Bob and Erlene Himes Scholarship Fund at Kentucky Wesleyan College.

Campbellsville University is a private, comprehensive institution located in South Central Kentucky. Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has an enrollment of 2,405 students who represent 98 Kentucky counties, 25 states and 29 foreign nations. Listed in U.S.News & World Report’s 2008 “America’s Best Colleges,” CU is ranked 22nd in “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the South and eighth in the South for “Great Schools, Great Prices.” CU has been ranked 15 consecutive years with U.S.News & World Report. The university has also been named to America’s Best Christian Colleges®. Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his ninth year as president.

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