Pauline “Polly” Bell Dunn holds her keepsake medal from having won the national spelling bee. Her daughter Elinor said, “Mother has kept that gold medal with her every day all through her college years and she has worn it every day since.” (Campbellsville University photo by Linda Waggener)
Oct. 28, 2009
For Immediate Release
PAULINE ‘POLLY’ BELL DUNN ALWAYS RECOMMENDS CAMPBELLSVILLE UNIVERSITY AS A WONDERFUL PLACE
By Linda Waggener, marketing and media relations coordinator
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Pauline ‘Polly’ Bell Dunn, 96, always mentions two special things she did as a young woman. The first, she won the national spelling bee at age 13, and second, she chose to do her teacher education at Campbellsville Junior College, now Campbellsville University.
Pauline Dunn, second from the right, is shown here on the porch of old Stapp Hall with her fellow students, wearing different colored polka dot outfits. The girl on the far right is Dunn’s lifetime friend, Mary Kate Farris, who taught at Fern Creek High School for years until retirement and is now deceased. (Photo submitted)
Her collection of photos includes one that shows her standing to the immediate right of United States President Calvin Coolidge, wearing the medal she received for her win. She has worn that medal every day since, through her years of schooling in Grayson County, Ky., through her student years at Campbellsville, and to this very day.
Her daughter, Elinor, said that her mother always speaks lovingly of her years at CU and pressed all four of her children to go there because it was a small school where everyone knew each other.
Fred Stickle, a friend at Eastwood Baptist Church in Bowling Green, and father of two CU students, told Dr. Darlene Eastridge, Campbellsville University’s dean of the Carver School of Social Work and Counseling, about Pauline Dunn whose memories of CU are so positive.
Stickle was on campus with his son, Jacob, a senior majoring in psychology with a music minor, when he was at CU taking summer classes. Stickle’s daughter Jodi graduated from CU with a bachelor of science degree in psychology in 1999.
Dunn and her husband Charlie have recently made a hard transition, moving out of their lifetime residence and into a small home created especially for them by daughter, Elinor, and her husband, Bowling Green Realtor, Mike Salsman.
The Dunn’s most treasured keepsakes still surround them in their new home. It was there that Eastridge talked of their shared connection as Mrs. Dunn spent 30 years working in the field of social work after a brief career teaching in one-room schools in Grayson County.
During the visit, Dunn cradled her precious “Girl’s Graduate Journal” album from 1933 and showed it to Eastridge. One of the pages read:
A rainy day, May 7, 1933
I’ll remember you as one of my best friends.
Other friends who wrote in Dunn’s album while she was at CU included: Jenny Newland, Lena Franklin Higdon, Gladys Williams, Alice Taylor Ragdon, Jessie Irvine, Curtis Phipps, Topsie Vera Pike, Mary Farris Raywick, Vivian Whitlow, Lillie Turner, Thelma Lake and Jr. Cripps Bradshaw.
These fellow students added their hometowns under their signatures: Evelyn Melborne, Perryville, Ky.; Mildred Nickols, Hodgenville, Ky.; Roy Pat Helton, Coxs Creek, Ky.; Effie Jane Sears, Drum, Ky.; Martha Lee Stallings, Louisville, Ky.
US President Calvin Coolidge posed with national spelling bee winners in 1926. To his right is the winner of the second national spelling bee ever held, 13-year-old Pauline “Polly” Bell from Clarkson, just north of Leitchfield in Grayson County, Ky. And to her right is the winner from the year before who was also from Kentucky, Frank Neuhouser, who won the first spelling bee ever held. He is also still alive and a resident of Louisville.” (Campbellsville University photo by Linda Waggener)
“Mother and her dear friend from Campbellsville, Mary Kate Farris, kept in contact all of their lives.” her daughter said. “One photo I hope to be able to give the college, when it is unpacked, shows Mother and Mary Kate with two other girls, each one wearing different colored polka dot pajamas, all leaning over the railing of Stapp Hall enjoying dorm life.”
The Bowling Green daughter, beside whom Dunn and her husband live now, is one of four children. The other three are Dale Dunn who lives in Konxville, Tenn.; Charlene Henderson, Spring Hill, Tenn.; and Kyle Dunn in Goodlettsville, Tenn.
In the background throughout the visit, an antique clock ticked away each second, occasionally chiming the hour, reminding all that even as a child of God nears the 100-year mark, life’s precious seasons pass quickly and reminders must be captured as Pauline Dunn has, wearing her medal every day and keeping her album of good friends messages close by.
Pauline “Polly” Bell Dunn, center, shows her keepsakes to Dr. Darlene Eastridge, dean of Campbellsville University’s Carver School of Social Work and Counseling, at right. At left is Dunn’s husband, Charlie.
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 3,006 students who represent 97 Kentucky counties, 30 states and 37 foreign nations. Listed in U.S.News & World Report’s 2010 “America’s Best Colleges,” CU is ranked 23rd in “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the South, tied for fifth in “most international students” and fourth in “up-and-coming” schools in baccalaureate colleges in the South. CU has been ranked 17 consecutive years with U.S.News & World Report. The university has also been named to America’s Best Christian Colleges® and to G.I. Jobs magazine as a Military Friendly School. Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his 11th year as president.