Whitesburg KY

Moments and Memories of WHS

Student graduates from



WHS at age 13, Lillian

Russell Fugate Webb

Mayking, Ky., July 25, 1931 – A 13-year-old graduate is the contribution of this town, a mining settlement in the heart of Letcher County’s mountains, to the ranks of those unusually gifted and talented. She is Lillian Fugate, a daughter of Elbert Fugate, a farmer.

A few weeks ago, Lillian was graduated from Whitesburg High School where she mastered her studies with ease and attained an enviable record. But her remarkable aptness in classwork came as no surprise to the teachers because her reputation, built upon allaround brightness shown even in early childhood, has spread throughout the mountain sections.

While still tottering about her home, located on the North Fork of the Kentucky River, Lillian began to plead with her parents to be allowed to go to school. Her mother and father tutored her at odd times, and at four and five years of age she was spelling out and pronouncing the names on shoeboxes, sugar, and coff ee packages, and other articles about the house. Arrangements were made with the teachers and trustees and Lillian was started in school long before the usual beginning age.



The teachers were immediately impressed by the child’s alertness and ability to learn quickly. From the very first, Lillian stayed more advanced in her studies than the older children. She was very studious and eager to learn, but she did not develop into a “bookworm.” Her parents state that she has always been most active and energetic and a willing helper with the chores about home. She stayed up late at night and studied, although she was warned repeatedly about the danger of ruining her eyesight, and always led her class at school.

Lillian entered the high school in Whitesburg at the age of eight. She was a regular and punctual student, having a record of never being tardy to school. At the commencement exercises recently, Prof. R. Dean Squires, school principal, commended her highly on her excellent record and proclaimed her one of the most brilliant students with whom he had ever come in contact.

The prodigy’s parents, of course, are very proud of her. And proud too, is Mrs. Ritter Fugate, an aunt who tutored the child before she started to school and closely watched her progress in learning. Lillian is already contemplating entering college this fall, and has expressed a preference for Milligan College, Milligan, Tenn.

(The above article from the July 26, 1931 Mountain

Lillian did attend Milligan and graduated four years later at the age of 17.

I was recently provided with the above article by Mrs. Sally Fugate Caudill, Lillian’s sister, and enjoyed reading this story, not only for the accomplishments that Lillian achieved, but also for the personal connection that I had. In 1963, as a senior at Fleming-Neon High School, I had the opportunity of being introduced to American Literature in Mrs. Lillian Webb’s senior literature class. One of her requirements was for the students to learn 30 poems and recite them to her sometime during the semester. On reflecting back on this experience, it was an excellent way to acquaint us with writers that we may never have come into contact otherwise.

Mrs. Webb not only devoted her time to her teaching, but also served the town of Fleming-Neon as Mayor. The public library, located in Neon, was named “The Lillian Webb Memorial Library” in her honor.

The seniors as we see


There are such things in life that are precious and priceless and one of them is Lillian Fugate, a dainty miss of 13, who has in some mysterious and unknown manner penetrated the vast realms of school life and has emerged victorious. Member of the Girls Reserve.

“To know her is to love her” is an appropriate phrase that is quite suggestive of the sweet personality of Caryl Breeding, who has been a luxury as well as a necessity to the senior class of ’31. Activities, member of Girls Reserve and Glee Club, society editor of the Black Kat, class poet.

Jolly, gay and bubbling over with laughter and fun is our own Gay Webb, who has made life worth living for four years, and has lent sunshine for the cloudy days. Activities, president of senior class, member of Boy’s Hi-Y and Glee Club, valedictorian.

Surely some good fairy endowed her with the wisdom of Jove and the cheerfulness and optimism of a sunbeam, for Bonnie Banks was, without doubt, born under a lucky star to possess such traits as these. Activities, member of Girls Reserve, honor student.

Sparkling and vivacious, with a winning personality, a sense of humor and a cheerful smile for everyone. This original and remarkable girl is no one else but Roberta Stidham. Activities, president of the Girl’s Reserve, member Glee Club, Editor-in-Chief of Black Kat.

“Still waters run deepest,” and that is the way of Astor Hogg, who says little but hears much. He is on the spot when needed and has ever been a helpful ingredient which has gone to make up the senior class. Activities, the ladies’ man.

And here comes our dear little Gladys Hall, a perfect blonde with demure dimples and glorious smiles to tinge the practical things of life with romance. Activities, member of the Girls Reserve.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” just a round-aboutway of saying that Nora Hall, with her blonde beauty, will not cease to be a joy to us even after we have drifted out into the world. Member Girl Reserves.

How could we ever have done without this matterof fact boy with his wise remarks and his helpful suggestions? They call him Carl Taylor. Hunt him up. Activities, member Hi-Y and an old bachelor.

Lenville Kincer is an easy-going old sport who is as bright as he looks, and that’s a-plenty. Member of Hi-Y.

Abbot Holbrook has proved a faithful member who will be loved and remembered by all his classmates. Hi-Y member.

Good! The most original boy! The best sport! A friend to all! A contagious smile! A cheerful word! And have you not guessed? It’s Klair Back. Boy’s Hi-Y, Glee Club, Band, Joke Editor of Black Kat.

Emerson Yonts could well be termed “Old Standby” for he has stood by us through thick and thin and has helped our class to succeed in all that is has undertaken. “Gone, but not forgotten.” Activities, Treasurer senior class, president of Boys’ Hi-Y and business manager of Black Kat.

Corinne Adams, with her soft, brown eyes and her blonde hair, has captured our hearts and won our admiration. Treasurer Girl Reserves, member Glee Club.

Lake Collins has proved a friend indeed, and with her sunny smiles and her cheerful disposition, has won a host of them. Activities. Girl Reserve.

Who could surpass Alta Logan with her jolly ways and her delightful chuckles? She has helped to make life gayer and brighter. Girl Reserve.

Yes, and here’s another who has added her share to joy and fun, with her witty remarks. Eva Morgan has produced much sunshine. Girl Reserve.

Who is this chap with his thoughtful look and his wise sayings? Benjamin Franklin? No, Andrew. Activities, Boys’ Hi-Y.

Here’s to Edith Baker, a charming wisp of a girl who can with one look from her frank, blue eyes transform an observer into an admirer. Member of Girl Reserves, secretary of senior class.

Eureka! The intelligence, the common sense and the talent of this modern boy, who calls himself Robert Bentley, has won admiration and respect. Activities, Athletic Reporter for the Black Kat.

Who could ask for a better sport or a more handsome boy than Cecil Day, who has been worth his height in gold? Activities, Boy’s Hi-Y.

Like Brutus, he was the noblest of them all; how could we have been steered through our senior year if it had not been for Archie Craft, with his lively interest and his true sportsmanship? Activities, former Business Manager of the Black Kat.

If you hear the soft caroling of a melodious voice and don’t know its owner, just search for a while and your gaze will alight upon a tumbled mass of golden brown curls encircling a piquant little face of which the owner is Miss Nora Polly. Member of Girls Reserves.

An ideal girl, who tries to make others happy regardless of herself, is Derella Mullins, and she succeeds so well that happiness reigns wherever we find her. Member Girl Reserves.

Woodrow Taylor, who left us at Christmas, is an intellectual little chap and has afforded lots of fun and pleasure. Boys’ Hi-Y.

Next to appear upon the scene is Ralph Brashear, tall, athletic and handsome, with a magnetic smile and penetrating blue eyes. Boys’ Hi-Y.

Could Wilgus Bowen be compared with Shakespeare’s Romeo? Probably, for he is as good looking and has the grace and air of Romeo.

Edward Long is a boy of an individual type. He is fond of playing pranks, yet he is quiet and reserved nature which is rather deceiving and leads us to believe that mischief was the last art of his nature, but beware! Member Hi-Y.

Wm. Ford is a gallant youth who possesses the ingenuity and the ability to become as great as that other Ford. Boys’ Hi-Y.

Grover Taylor, with his twinkling brown eyes, is so mischievous that no one could help but laugh when he is near.

Clinton Kincer is another who was with us just half of the year. He was an asset to his class and his helpfulness has been missed.

(The above from the May 1931 Black Kat.)

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