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A courtyard for 'Miss Frances'

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By Calen McKinney

 

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She always said that when she told people she loved them, she truly meant it. On Thursday, family and friends who love her gathered to honor her legacy.

Campbellsville University is now home to the Frances Clinkscales Courtyard, built in honor of the late Campbellsville City Council member and civic leader.

The courtyard was dedicated Thursday afternoon, with several local officials and family members gathering to speak about how Clinkscales touched their lives. Clinkscales, a long-time civic and community leader known to many simply as “Miss Frances,” died in February 2008 after an illness. She was 78.

Those who knew her, and those who didn’t, often heard her say, “Hey, pretty pretty” and “I love you.”

In February 2004, Clinkscales told the News-Journal that she truly really meant the phrases that had come to define her in the community.

“I really mean it when I say that and you would be surprised at how much something little like that can do to people,” she said.

“It doesn’t cost me anything to be sincere ... It’s just part of me. It’s just as much a part of me as breathing.”

On Thursday, Campbellsville Mayor Tony Young said he first met Clinkscales when he played Little League baseball with her son. But he said he didn’t get to know her well until a few years before her death.

Young said he drove Clinkscales to many doctor’s appointments in Elizabethtown and Louisville.  She was on dialysis, he said, and would often require procedures when her port became blocked. He said she was more concerned about him having to wait for her than how she was feeling.

“She truly cared about all people and wanted the best for them,” Young said. “She caused a domino effect. She would care for others and made you want to do the same.”

Young said he and Clinkscales learned that they had a lot in common, and often settled all of the community’s and world’s problems during their car trips together.

Since becoming mayor a year ago, Young said, he has searched for a way to honor Clinkscales. He said he worked with John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president at Campbellsville University, to build a courtyard to honor her.

The courtyard sits between CU’s School of Nursing and Education buildings, which Young said is fitting.

“I truly believe these two schools represent what Ms. Frances would wish for everyone in our community, that all children and young people receive the education required to allow them to be as successful as they want to be and to work in a field of work such as she did, nursing, where she shared her passion for people.

“I believe Ms. Frances would want all of us to know that we all can achieve whatever we want, regardless of any obstacles or hardships we may face. For this is what Ms. Frances did. What a great example she was, and is, and shall be for all people who shall pass through this courtyard and perhaps pause for a moment of reflection about a great community leader, role model, mentor and friend.”

CU President Dr. Michael Carter said Clinkscales was a person who gave tremendous service to the Taylor County community and Campbellsville University.

Carter said he can’t think of a more community-minded person who has such a spirit of service and a heart of love. He said the entire crowd likely has warm and precious memories of Clinkscales.

“She was an individual who always made time for others.”

Carter said Clinkscales helped secure the first endowment grant to help fund CU’s School of Nursing. He said she many times spoke to former U.S. Rep. Ron Lewis and encouraged him to not forget CU. He said Clinkscales was instrumental in seeing the school come to fruition.

Carter said the school now has record enrollment, with more than 100 students enrolled and working toward a nursing career.

Fighting back tears, Clinkscales’ granddaughter, LaQuita Goodin of Campbellsville, said her grandmother dedicated her life to serving others.

“She truly loved this community,” Goodin said.

Goodin said she is blessed and honored that a courtyard has been named for her grandmother.

“I know she’s looking down on us,” she said, “[And is proud] that we’re continuing her legacy.”

Clinkscales was a long-time and current member of the Campbellsville City Council when she died. She was also a member of Greater Campbellsville United and many other civic organizations.

Clinkscales spent many years of her life caring for others as a nurse.

She graduated from Campbellsville’s then all-black Durham High School in 1949 and went on to Howard University in Washington, D.C. to study nursing.

Clinkscales worked as a nurse in West Virginia, New York and Washington, D.C. She then returned to Kentucky and worked at Ireland Army Hospital in Fort Knox for 31 years, beginning in 1955.

Some of Clinkscales’ other community and civic involvement included serving on the Lake Cumberland Redevelopment Services Board, Senior Citizens Board, Kentucky Parole Board, Habitat for Humanity, Campbellsville University Advancement Council and the Campbellsville Family Resource and Youth Services Council. Clinkscales also spent her time lobbying for dialysis research and funding.

In June 2007, Clinkscales told the News-Journal that she suffered from complete kidney failure and underwent regular dialysis treatments at the Taylor County Dialysis Center. She was instrumental in beginning the center.

Clinkscales also served as a DaVita Patient Citizens ambassador, one of many around the world who work to improve the quality of life for dialysis patients through education and advocacy.

Part of her duties as an ambassador included testifying at Congressional meetings before lawmakers. One of those lawmakers, Lewis, was a close friend of hers.