They say you can never go home again. They tell you it can never be the same. Yet, sometimes in life when you revisit the memories of youth, it is as if you had never left. That is what it was like.
On Oct. 1, the staff and alumni of Calvary College once again gathered for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the institution. Calvary College began with a vision of Christian education in 1966. The school was established on the old Stuart Robinson campus. Stuart Robinson was formed by Dr. Edward O. Guerrant and a group known as the Society of Soul Winners. Their mission was to establish settlement schools in rural areas of Appalachia and to share the gospel of Christ.
According to the writings of Reverend W.I. Cooper, “Stuart Robinson School had its origin in a little Sunday school organized in the L&N depot at Blackey about 1910, the building being only partially finished. Captain C.F. Huhlein, a member of the firm of B.F. Avery and Sons in Louisville, and Mr. Thomas Tailbot, later superintendent of Home Missions in West Lexington Presbytery, were spending some time in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, partly as a vacation and partly for the purpose of aiding Dr. Guerrant in his work.
“One spring Sunday morning they came upon a group of boys swimming in the North Fork of the Kentucky River just below Blackey. There were about 30 youngsters, and they were having a great time. These two men from the Bluegrass, having an innate love for boys and knowing the great influence for good which Sunday school exerted in the lives of their own boys, suggested to the group that they would find it most interesting and helpful to join a movement for establishing such an organization in Blackey. Many of these lads had never heard of a Sunday school, and few, if any, had ever been to one. All were curious and anxious to know what it would be like, so the entire group joined Captain Huhlein and Mr. Talbot in starting the first Sunday school at Blackey.
“The two men reported the incident to Dr. Guerrant, who afterwards visited Blackey, studied the situation and decided that this was the proper location for another mission point.”
In 1914, 16 acres of land were purchased and Stuart Robinson was founded with an enrollment of 140 students. For 44 years the institution brought Christian education to the mountain region of Kentucky. In 1957, its doors were closed. The Letcher County School System utilized the gym and other buildings on campus until Calvary College was established by men of vision. The Open Door Orphanage, under the guidance of the Board, purchased the property and a new day dawned.
Calvary College opened its doors on Sept. 5, 1966, to 87 freshman students. The faculty and staff came from several different states to teach and assist with the vision of a four-year liberal arts institution in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. The curriculum consisted of liberal arts degrees in education, business, and religion. A special course of study leading to diplomas in various technical fields was also be part of the curriculum.
The first year witnessed several miracles. Thousands of dollars’ worth of science equipment was donated by several institutions of higher learning. Campbell’s Soup donated 10 tons of soup and evangelists from across the country came to preach in daily chapel services and revivals. Calvary witnessed a grand beginning in basketball and held its own among bigger and better equipped schools. The student body consisted of future leaders within the Appalachian region and beyond. Calvary’s influence is alive and well today, as Calvary Campus continues the ministry and mission.
The 50th anniversary of the establishment of Calvary College began on Friday, Sept. 30, with a welcome to the alumni and staff, ‘Crusin’ with over 20 vintage vehicles on display, hot dog, and marshmallow roast and fellowship.
Saturday, Oct. 1, began with registration at 10 a.m., and dedication of the girls’ dormitory to Dan and Barbara Maddalena, who drove all the way from Lewisville, Texas, to attend the event. Paul and Mary Jo Radosevich, the directors of Calvary Campus Retreat Center, were most gracious hosts. Paul served in the capacity of master of ceremonies. Mr. Lonnie Riley, chairman of the Calvary Campus Board, was the keynote speaker. Both shared their love of Christ, Calvary Campus and paid tribute to Mr. and Mrs. Maddalena for their vision, commitment, and dedication to the campus for over 50 years. Belinda Riley, Bobby and Nancy McFall, also Calvary Campus Board members, were present. After the dedication of the dormitory, David Chaltas reflected on what Calvary had done for him, as well as others that attended the school. Ollie Kelly and Claudette Adams unveiled the granite marker commemorating the 50th-year reunion. A group picture was taken in front of the dormitory and then at old rock wall below the old wooden cross that symbolized Calvary.
A wonderful lunch was served as students and faculty shared memories of Calvary. After lunch and reflecting upon the “golden” years, an auction was held to raise money for the next reunion. Berma Whitaker was the auctioneer extraordinaire. Calvary’s theme song, “At Calvary”, was led by John Innes, former instructor at the school and director of Christian Vocational Ministries, Marysville, Utah.
A tribute to those from Calvary who were veterans was offered. A moving tribute was paid as balloon with names of those faculty and students who have gone before were released into the heavens. The vision is still alive and thriving! For more information about Calvary Campus Retreat Center, call Paul, 606-335-6109, or email at email@example.com.