Memorable Characters

Within the rural communities served by the Student Health Coalition – and within the SHC itself – there were many individuals who left lasting impressions. Stories featuring a few of these memorable characters are presented here. (See also, biographical sketches of SHC participants, community members, faculty supporters, and allies under PEOPLE.)

 

Reflections on the SHC’s sense of fashion

Kate Bradley and Marie Cirillo share some laughs thinking back to the effort Student Health Coalition (SHC) participants put toward demonstrating modesty and respect so as to cultivate relationships with community members. But sporting bowl cuts, long skirts, and duct-taped… Continued

Art Van Zee on community hosts Howard and Elsie Elliot

Art Van Zee reminisces Howard and Elsie Elliot, a local couple with whom many Student Health Coalition (SHC) participants were welcomed to stay. He highlights their hospitality as a hallmark of the Coalition’s community-centered approach to effective organizing. Continued

On the SHC’s provision of hope as fuel for systemic change to rural healthcare

Kate and J.W. Bradley share sweet reflections of the friendships made during the Student Health Coalition’s (SHC’s) community organizing efforts in rural Tennessee, and explain that the organization’s leader, Bill Dow, gave them hope to change what they’d always been… Continued

Minnie Bommer’s encounter with hospital segregation

Having overcome the adversity of racially biased employment discrimination imposed upon her at the outset of her nursing career, Minnie Bommer shares also about the realities of healthcare inequities and segregation experienced post-hire at a hospital in Covington, Tenn. Recorded… Continued

Minnie Bommer on racially charged employment discrimination and her journey to nursing career

Minnie Bommer shares her tumultuous experience at the outset of her nursing career, detailing the extent of racially biased obstacles intended to bar her from hire at hospitals in Tipton County, Tenn. Recorded on June 1, 2018.   Full footage… Continued

Bill Dow as a community organizer in Appalachia

Maureen O’Connell and Charles “Boomer” Winfrey reflect on Bill Dow’s character and personal philosophy about community organizing. They describe him as an other-oriented person driven by creative, actionable service and mutually respectful relationships best illustrated by his perception of and… Continued

Behind the scenes: non-medical techs with the Student Health Coalition

Dal Macon explains his role as coordinator of the Student Health Coalition’s (SHC’s) non-medical techs, bringing light to its operations behind the scenes.   Full footage of interview with Dal Macon. Continued

Dal Macon’s introduction to Bill Dow and the Student Health Coalition

Dal Macon shares his first impressions of Bill Dow and what attracted him to the Student Health Coalition’s (SHC’s) unique approach to community organizing. He frames the SHC and its work of rural healthcare delivery as a mission of listeners… Continued

Square Morman’s sons on 1960s civil unrest and Tent City

Dana Ellis, a nurse and co-director of the West Tennessee Student Health Coalition, asks two of Square Morman’s sons what it was like in the early 1960s — from racial tensions to the development of “Tent City.” Recorded on June… Continued

Highlights from J.W. Bradley’s collection of papers

Biff Hollingsworth, archivist at UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library’s Southern Historical Collection, comes across some highlights from J.W. Bradley’s recently donated collection of papers. The first is a newspaper clipping of J.W., president of Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM), with… Continued
Diane Lauver's Legacy Plant

Resilient Reba: A bittersweet story from Diane Lauver

During a health fair in the 70s, I stayed with a couple in Elgin, Tenn.: Reba and Bud Smithers. Another health fair worker, Angela, stayed with me at their home. A few experiences with this couple left me with strong… Continued

Sally Kimberly and Rick Davidson on the generosity of local surgeons

Sally Kimberly and Rick Davidson discuss the life-saving assistance from local Scott County surgeons who offered to take free-of-cost patients in need of additional care. Sally describes the deal between her and Chuck Darling and Rick comments on Dave Stanley’s commitment to surgical patients in Oak Ridge.   Full footage of… Continued

Lewis Lefkowitz recalls the legacy of Marie Cirillo and impact of local nurses

Lewis Lefkowitz highlights Marie Cirillo’s contributions to the work of the Student Health Coalition (SHC) and discusses the role of nursing in promoting public health. Recorded on December 1, 2015.   Full footage of his recollection about the development of… Continued

Caryl Carpenter on community leader Odes McKamey

Caryl Carpenter, former administrator of the Mountain People’s Health Councils (MPHC) of East Tennessee, shares a story about community leader Odes McKamey of Stoney Fork, Tenn. MPHC was founded in 1974 as a coalition of three rural health clinics in… Continued

SHC in Mud Creek, Kentucky

[Story contributed by Jack Beckford, with assistance from Sara Platt Williams] During the Fall of 1970, the SHC was contacted by the Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Organization (EKWRO), centered in Floyd Co, Ky. EKWRO was already doing organizing among low-income… Continued

Frank Pacosa on Bill Dow and SHC summers

[Story contributed by Frank Pacosa, April 2017] It was all about Bill and the world he opened to me. That gravely voice stilled me. And often in his mouth was a toothpick, or hay stalk pulled from the dirt that… Continued
Bill Dow in Smithville ,Tenn., 1970

Frank Pacosa in memory of Bill Dow

[Story contributed by Frank Pacosa, March 2017] Heartfelt memories of my SHC days rumble through Bill was the seminal influence. Never met a man who could say more with so few words. His admonition to always question and look deeper… Continued

“Liberté, Egalité, Frivolité”

[Story contributed by John Emmeus Davis, 2015] At one emotional pole of the Coalition experience was the gravity and ferocity of the organization’s founder, Bill Dow. He usually displayed little patience for peers whose personal commitment to the SHC’s Appalachian… Continued

Moonshine

Rod Lorenz on the entrepreneurial endeavors of his host family.   Learn more about Rod Lorenz.  Continued

Living with Vada

Ann Baile Hamric on hospitality, creative home heating, and wasps in the outhouse. Continued

A conversation with Martha Stucker

Martha Stucker shares about her time working in the mountains from 1968-1972, and explains her role as a nurse practitioner focused on meeting community needs. Continued

“It isn’t easy to catch a pig, not even in the confines of the back of a truck.”

[Story contributed by Pat Kalmans] The whole bee thing with Bill started in Nashville on the Vanderbilt campus. Bill had been wanting to raise bees for a while, but didn’t want to necessarily mail order the suckers.  One day, literally… Continued

“Not a nanosecond of time was allowed for the corn to begin to lose its sweetness between stalk and pot.”

[Story contributed by Trip Van Noppen] In 1975, I began working for Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM) and moved into the Ponderosa, the really old farmhouse outside of Lake City that Bill had somehow obtained for general housing needs. Jimmy… Continued

“It pleases me to see community people getting together and then deciding for themselves what they want”

Betty Anderson shares what it was like working with Save Our Cumberland Mountains (SOCM) and Bill Dow. She also discusses the indispensable importance of community organizations. Continued

Bill Dow’s broccoli story

On organic farming and the state’s resistance to nurturing broccoli.   Continued

Gathering the Seed Corn: Archiving the Bill Dow Papers

My name is Biff Hollingsworth and I am the Collecting and Outreach Archivist for the Southern Historical Collection at UNC Chapel Hill. My main responsibility at the Southern is to curate new collections and projects, which means that I work on… Continued