LETTER FROM RON WIMBERLEY- March 14, 1996
Ms. Beverly Henshaw
We've met a couple of times at Rural Sociology meetings in years past, but have never had much time to talk. Ken was always helpful to me and I certainly appreciated him as a friend. I miss him.
As it turns out, he and I were both sociology majors and graduates of Louisiana College although I, attending after he graduated, did not know him there. Later, our interests coincidentally drifted to rural sociology, and we participated together in one of the northeastern regional, research projects through our experiment stations. Like Ken, I had also worked for CSRS in USDA [Cooperative State Research Service, U.S. Department of Agrigulture] for a while. Even our nonacademic interests in UU [Unitarian Universalitst] seemed to coincide. We were both surprised, but not surprised, to find that we were of that persuasion.
It seemed that he was always quietly watching out for me as my career progressed, and I regarded him as being at the top of our scientific discipline of rural sociology.
Recently, I had occasion to return to Louisiana College during homecoming to receive a distinguished alumnus award and give a talk at chapel and again at the award banquet. I was compelled to include my appreciation to Ken in my comments.
One of the homecoming activities was a LC sports hall-of-fame banquet. Ken's former football coach, Harold "Jug" Knight, was inducted. Afterward, I had a brief conversation with him. I do not know much about their association, other than Ken once telling me the Knight had recruited the "renegades" from Mississippi and put them together into a team that could beat the big schools on LC's schedule. Knight had heard of Ken's death and was pleased that I had mentioned our friendship. I believe Knight is at the University of Southern Mississippi in a leadership center. Billy Allgood, one of the longterm and current LC coaches, is still on campus as athletic director.
Since my in-laws have lived in Pineville, I have had many opportunities to visit the campus since graduation. But both the school and I have done better since my departure. LC is now rated in the top 5 percent of all liberal arts colleges in the U.S., and one of the top ten in the South. It continues its Baptist identity, but is coming under attack from those more conservative. And I find that the administration is quite interested in setting up some type of community development for citizens in the Central Louisiana area. It's the kind of thing Ken would have appreciated. That area has much rural poverty, and Louisiana has more than any state
Since Ken and I are probably the only LC alums to be rural sociologists and members of the RSS [Rural Sociological Society], I wanted to share with you my appreciation and a copy of my comments. In turn, please mention this to his children should there be occasion to do so. Sometime, I hope there will be a chance for us to talk about Ken and his work
Best wishes in the meantime.
Ronald C. Wimberley
p.s. Blue & Orange are the LC school colors
(North Carolina State University, Department of Sociology and Anthropology)