McConnell pays tribute to Dr. Bobby R. Himes

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By The Staff

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell paid tribute to Dr. Bobby R. Himes in the Senate Congressional Record in July:

"Mr. President, I rise to note with sadness the passing of Dr. Bobby R. Himes, a retired Campbellsville University professor and star Kentuckian who will be greatly missed. After over four decades of service to his students, his community and the commonwealth of Kentucky, he leaves behind many loved ones and a great legacy of accomplishment. He was 76 years old.

"Known to students and colleagues as 'Mr. Campbellsville University,' Dr. Himes taught 7,940 students over his long career, according to grade books he kept in his possession. He first came to Campbellsville University in 1961 at the age of 29 and retired in 2001 as a history and political science professor. More than 4,000 Campbellsville students took his popular class 'United States History Since 1877,' which began in 1961.

"Dr. Himes grew up in Hartford, Ky., and always remained proud of his hometown. In his recent book 'Life in the Shadows of Hartford College and Campbellsville University,' he wrote, 'I could not have grown up in a better place or time. Nowhere could there have been better people to nurture a young boy, a young man and now an old man.'

"Dr. Himes graduated from Hartford High School in 1950 and earned his bachelor's degree in history and political science from Kentucky Wesleyan College in 1959. He earned a master's degree in social science from Appalachian State University in 1961, did other graduate work at Western Kentucky University, and did his doctoral studies at Vanderbilt University. He also wore our country's uniform for four years in the U.S. Air Force, serving in the Korean War.

"Dr. Himes' renown as a teacher was legendary. Several years ago I was on a plane from Kentucky to Washington, DC, when a young woman introduced herself to me as one of his former students. She had only the highest praise for him. I made sure to tell Dr. Himes about that afterwards. The impact he had on this young woman's life, and thousands of young people's lives, cannot be understated.

"Let me point out that my wife, Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, was a big fan of Dr. Himes as well. When she first met him she was new to Kentucky and just getting to know people. Dr. Himes was so friendly and helpful, they soon became fast friends. He was a great guide to the people and places in Kentucky.

"Dr. Himes was always actively engaged with the world around him, and so it is no surprise he was involved in political campaigning and public service as well. His first campaign experience came when he was in the third grade at Wayland Alexander Elementary School. He supported Wendell L. Willkie in the 1940 Presidential election.

"Luckily, that first loss did not deter him from politics completely. Moving to Taylor County, Ky., in 1961, Dr. Himes went on to serve in leadership posts for local campaigns. He then became chairman of the Taylor County Republican Party in 1982, a position he held for 10 years.

"Dr. Himes was twice named the Campbellsville/Taylor County Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year. He was also named 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.

"Dr. Himes was a member of Campbellsville Baptist Church, and he belonged to the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels. He was perhaps the biggest fan of Lady Tiger Basketball at Campbellsville University, and the team recognized his support by creating the Bobby Himes Award, which honors dedication, determination and loyalty.

"Dr. Himes served under five presidents during his tenure at Campbellsville University. Dr. Michael V. Carter, the current president, said upon hearing the news, 'We thank God for the life and career of Dr. Bobby Himes and his service to Campbellsville University and humanity.'

"My prayers and those of the people of Kentucky are with his wife Erlene and the Himes family after this sad loss. I hope the wonderful memories of Dr. Himes' long and fruitful life can give them some strength during this difficult time.

"In his book, Dr. Himes looked back at his own success and wrote, 'What a career, what a life for a rural Kentucky boy! My granddad Himes would be pleased.'

"What a life, indeed. Kentucky and our Nation have lost a great American with the passing of Dr. Bobby R. Himes. And I have lost a dear beloved friend."