Honoree Brown recalls 40 years of teaching

By Tammy Keith Originally Published February 3, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated February 1, 2013 at 7:55 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Kenneth R. Brown, 83, has been chosen as the Outstanding Alumnus for Central Baptist College’s homecoming, Feb. 15-16. He taught at CBC for 40 years. Here, he is looking over some of his teaching notes he used for class.

— Kenneth R. Brown of Conway said that when he was notified that he’d been chosen as the 2013 Central Baptist College Outstanding Alumnus, he was stumped.

“I didn’t know what I did to deserve that,” he said. “I tried to remember what it could have been for.”

It could be because the 83-year-old Brown taught there for 40 years, influencing future leaders, including CBC President Terry Kimbrow.

“He was a very good student, too,” Brown recalled.

Kimbrow said Brown is “one of the most beloved” CBC teachers of all time.

“Everybody that has had him loved him,” Kimbrow said. “He’s known as a storyteller.”

Kimbrow said he had Brown as a teacher for Western civilization.

“Until then, honestly, I was not that interested in history,” Kimbrow said. “My teachers in high school did not nearly make it come alive like he did.”

Kimbrow said Brown’s honor as Outstanding Alumnus is “way overdue.”

Not that Brown’s contributions have been ignored. Kimbrow said a scholarship in Brown’s honor was established several years ago, and the KB Wing in the Cooper Complex was named in Brown’s honor.

Brown grew up in northeast Arkansas in a little place called Caldwell. He graduated from Forrest City High School and came to then-Conway Baptist College the year it opened, 1952. It became Central Baptist College in 1962.

He said he was the first student enrolled at the college.

“I say that that first year there were 14 full-time students, and some people taking one course,” Brown said.

“I came there for some Bible work, I guess [that] really is what brought me there.”

Brown said he started serving as a pastor before he went to college.

He attended CBC for one year, 1952-53, and transferred to Arkansas State Teachers College, now the University of Central Arkansas.

He also received a master’s degree in social studies with an emphasis in history.

“I immediately got a job at CBC,” he said.

For one year, he taught Little Rock Central High School students on the Conway college campus at what was called “the academy,” he said.

“That was opened for the benefit of those in Little Rock when the schools closed there that year [1958],” Brown said. “They did it only one year. … They bused some students [to Conway], but it was not successful, and it closed.”

After that year, he taught history and American government at the college level.

“I think while I was

teaching there, everybody that came through over there I had in Western civilization, which is world history,” he said.

“Someone asked me how much technology there was then, and I said a blackboard and a piece of chalk.”

Brown said some people don’t know he also taught at the University of Central Arkansas for many years, primarily American government and some world history classes.

“When I started teaching at CBC, it was a new school, and the pay scale was pretty low, so you had to do something else,” he said.

“I was a busy man running back and forth.”

Most of the time he was teaching, he was also the pastor of small Faulkner County Baptist churches, including Friendship, Needs Creek and Pleasant Valley, where he spent about 14 years.

He and his wife, Marie, who have been married 63 years, have two daughters, Judy South of Conway, a media specialist at Ellen Smith Elementary School; and Sandra Francis of Jackson, Mo.

Brown said he retired about 15 years ago.

“I enjoyed the classroom very much, but I didn’t enjoy — later on it got to be so much paperwork that had to do with it; keep this record for Uncle Sam,” etc., he said.

“I kind of got tired of that. I decided it was time for somebody else.”

His love for CBC hasn’t waned, though.

“Now it’s a much bigger and better school than it ever was,” he said.

Kimbrow said student enrollment was 850 in the fall.

“I am honestly amazed when I go over there,” Brown said. “This new building, David T. Watkins — the technology in that building is amazing, I tell you. Everything over there blows my mind to see.”

He said it’s hard to believe CBC’s growth, or his age.

“I never thought I’d make it here [to 83],” he said, laughing. “My father was 71 [when he died], and I thought he had been old for a long time.

“The other day I thought, ‘I don’t know if I could teach a history class or American government class if I wanted to,’” Brown said. “I pulled out my college notes — I have all the notes I ever had — looked over my world history, and I thought, ‘Shoot, I could read through this a couple of times and go over there and teach it.’”

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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