Crowder College celebrates a ‘living history’

By Jesse Walls
Managing Editor

 Crowder College, a ‘love story’ that has spanned more than 50 years, started as a dream and a vision. On April 2 approximately 750-800 faculty, students and guests gathered at Sneller Gymnasium, despite rain and cool weather, to kick off Crowder’s 50th celebration.

“As a community college we are proud to be equal parts – community and college,” stated Dr. Alan Marble, president of Crowder College, in his welcome speech. “It was this community that gave the college life, and we hope to return the favor by enriching the life of the community.”

“It’s an honor for me to be here today and to help you all celebrate 50 years,” State Representative Bill Reibolt started his speech. “Probably nothing has united Newton and McDonald County any more than Crowder College.”

Presenting two resolutions from state officials, one from the House of Representatives and one from the Missouri Senate, Rep. Reibolt was then followed by Andy Wood, the president of the Board of Trustees, who read a letter of congratulations from Senator Roy Blunt.

Last Man Standing

“Introducing James B. Tatum at the 50th anniversary of Crowder College is the easiest thing in the world to do, and it starts out with ‘In the beginning’,” Wood said jokingly as he introduced James B. Tatum, Crowder’s longest serving board member.

“This is a love story, I have to tell you that right off,” Tatum started, beginning his narrative of the early history of the college. Claiming privilege because he was the ‘last man standing’, he began with ‘the living past’.

“People want to put the past aside, but the past does indeed live…we have become and we are becoming all of the time,” he commented.

Giving credit for the proposal of a junior college to Robert W. Anderson, superintendent of the Neosho School District at the time the college was established, Tatum went on to say that Anderson “envisioned the future quite nicely.”

“Love is a word that’s overworked…in so many ways,” Tatum commented, “but the way that it’s mostly, appropriately, marvelously understood has to do with the wedding of wisdom with love. And it was through a person who possessed love and wisdom, Bob Anderson, that this idea was floated to the superintendents [of the two counties of Newton and McDonald Counties].”

Hitting on topics such as servant leadership and its importance to the establishment of the college, Tatum went on to recount the people involved who helped establish the college, as well as the triumphs and tragedies that came with those first years of working toward making the college what it would become and eventually would be today.

The Next 50

“The program says that I am supposed to talk about the future and that can be very brief, because the future hasn’t happened yet,” commented Dr. Marble lightheartedly as he started his speech. “If you look out too far, I think it [the future] gets kind of foggy.”

Making a quick run-down of the accomplishments of the past 5-6 years, Dr. Marble gave credit to the community for their generous donations to help finance many of the college’s endeavors, including the McDonald County facility.

He went on to discuss near term plans for a facility in Webb City, as well as renovations and expansions to the Neosho campus.

“I really believe that the future success of both, the college and the community, are inextricably bound together. Our futures are really intertwined and interdependent, and truthfully we are all much stronger because of that.”

As the ‘party got started’, food was served in the lobby of the gym, and people could view yearbooks and scrapbooks in the Wright Conference Center.

“When I stop and reflect on the history of the Fort Crowder area, which was built in 1941 and then later the establishment of Crowder College in 1963, I felt that it was quite an honor to be a part of the celebration of this important event,” commented William Bradshaw, computer and network support technology major, of the historic event.