Memorable Characters

Within the rural communities served by the SHC – 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.)


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 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 unique approach to community organizing. He frames the SHC and its work of rural healthcare delivery as a mission of listeners responding… 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 June 1st,… Continued

Highlights from JW Bradley’s collection of papers

Biff Hollingsworth, archivist at UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library’s Southern Historical Collection, comes across some highlights from JW Bradley’s recently donated collection of papers. The first is a newspaper clipping of JW, 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, TN: 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 and discusses the role of nursing in promoting public health. Recorded December 1, 2015.   Full footage of his recollection about the development of the Student… 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, TN. 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, SHC was contacted by the Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Organization (EKWRO), centered in Floyd Co, KY. EKWRO was already doing organizing among low-income residents… Continued

Frank Pacosa on Bill Dow and SHC Summers

[Story contributed by Frank Pacosa, April 2017] Memories of Bill Dow and the Vanderbilt SHC Summer Health Fairs It was all about Bill and the world he opened to me. That gravely voice stilled me. And often in his mouth… Continued
Bill Dow in Smithville TN, 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 SHC experience was the gravity and ferocity of the organization’s founder, Bill Dow. He usually displayed little patience for peers whose personal commitment to SHC’s Appalachian mission… Continued


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

An interview with Martha Stucker. More on Nursing: Continued

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

An interview with Betty Anderson on what it was like working with SOCM, and Bill Dow. She also discusses the importance of community organizations. Continued

Bill Dow’s Broccoli Story

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