With the exception of 12 years, Bob Herring has lived on Glen Edge Lane. He and his wife, Marilyn, chose to move to a house two doors away from his childhood home in 1985.
It was a great place to grow up. He often played in Kennedy Park and went there for a nature camp every summer. There was a swimming pool in Kennedy Heights behind the Kennedy elementary school at Montgomery and Kennedy, a 5 and 10¢ store, a German bakery, and the KH Pharmacy. The baseball legend Ted Kluszewski lived on Hill and Dale.
The community has a different feel from when he grew up; there is less retail now. On opposite corners at Woodford and Kennedy there were two gas stations, a Pure and a Gulf station. The former was where Milton’s car service is and the latter, where Groundtakers Landscape business is located. The end of the line for the city trolley is now the site of Family Dollar. There were no Big Box retailers and no I-71. The public transportation has improved with express bus service to and from downtown. The neighborhood has energy in different ways; the effort to reclaim the funeral home and initiate the Kennedy Arts Center is an excellent example.
He was in high school when the area became integrated but wasn’t involved in the issues. His parents were open-minded and were glad to have the first black neighbors on the street move into the house beside them.
He believes their children have benefitted from growing up in a racially and economically diverse neighborhood.
Bob became the Nativity School Principal in 1984. Many schools, public and private, have closed since then for various reasons; one being that the county has lost population. Nativity, a K-8th grade school, has seen an increase in enrollment. The school is conveniently located close to the interstate and several neighborhoods. There is an emphasis on global education with a student exchange program since 1980. The school year 2013-2014, students had the opportunity to travel to China and Australia; the 2014-2015 school year, the countries were Poland and Germany. Students from those countries stay with families while they attend Nativity.
Children from neighboring areas provide a mix of economically and racially diverse student body. There is an emphasis on the arts with full-time music and art teachers; Chinese and Spanish are taught at K-5th grades and Latin, 6-8th grades.
Bob was named a National Distinguished Principal by the U.S. Department of Education in 2005 and received the Global Educator Award in 2002 from the National Association of Retired Peace Corps Volunteers. This summer, 2015, Bob retired as principal of Nativity.
To someone moving to KH, Bob offers that people note the value of the neighborhood, what it offers in diversity of ethnicity, economically, as an urban setting, and its accessibility.
What are the hopes he has for the community? Maintain what we have, improve the housing stock to attract various groups of people, e.g. seniors so they don’t have to leave the neighborhood as they downsize, perhaps condos, landominiums. Millenials are discovering the city, how can we attract them to KH? The welcome mat is out; it’s a wonderful place to call home.
Interviewed April 8, 2014
by Christine Schumacher and Holly Beckemeyer.
Presented at KHCC meeting September 15, 2015.