For some reason I find myself thinking a great deal about the past in recent days. It could be that I am involved with the Corbin Library where we had two authors of Corbin history who visited on March 28 to talk about and sign their books, or it could be the result of my task to preserve the 75 years of Ossoli Club history.
Whatever the reason, when I discovered March was National Women’s History Month — and the theme was “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination” — I found myself wanting to say a few words to honor some wonderful ladies from the Ossoli Club’s past. These ladies, though no longer with us, imagined a better Corbin facility, and their tenacity in reaching success greatly inspires us today.
The Smith Hospital, founded in 1920 by Dr. Festus Steely Smith, was located above Hall Watson’s and served Corbin until 1952. Dr. F.S. Smith was the father of Dr. Keith P. Smith, who delivered most of the babies in Corbin from 1945 to 1975 (the number was more than 7,000, according to his daughter Sandra). While the Smith Hospital served Corbin well, by 1945 it had become obvious (especially to this group of women) that Corbin badly needed a modern medical facility.
“Golden Anniversary 1902-1952 A History of Corbin Nibroc Festival,” compiled and edited by the Younger Woman’s Club, contains the rest of the story: “Dreams do come true! The Ossoli Club can tell you that because Corbin…has a fifty-five bed hospital that is as well equipped as any in the South. Though…not visible, the name Ossoli is certainly written across the whole hospital and those who know can see it. The dream was born on March 27, 1945, at a regular meeting of the club.” It took seven years, but things finally did fall into place. Today, Corbin boasts a beautiful medical center which we are blessed to have, but in 1952 when Corbin Municipal Hospital was opened, it was “one of the largest and best equipped in the South.”
A 1946 yearbook from the Ossoli Club’s archives lists many of the members who worked for this dream’s reality: Juanita Adkins, Hazel Chandler, Mrs. Myers Clark, Mrs. J.O. Crawford, Mrs. Stanley Delph, Mrs. R.D. Feagin, Mrs. S.G. Hembree, Mrs. Wheeler Jones, Mrs. Earl Kidd, Mrs. Raymond Ohler, Mrs. Wayne Ritchie, Mrs. Hugh Singleton, Mrs. Russell Stansberry, Mrs. F.D. Stevenson, Mrs. Herschel Sutton, Mrs. Steely Terrell, Mrs. H.H. Triplett, Freda Trosper, Mrs. C.N. Wiggins, Mrs. Vernon Wilder, Sr., Mrs. Ed Wilder, Mrs. Frank Gieszl, Mrs. Si Monen, Mrs. Glenn Hill, and Louellen Taylor. What these ladies accomplished encourages us to believe in our dreams and strengthens us to work for a better world today.
While Corbin Municipal Hospital was the biggest dream for Ossoli members in the 75 years we have been a GFWC KY club, we are always dreaming about improvements we feel need to be made (a Youth Center for Corbin teens, a Nativity for downtown, new seats for the CHS theater, financial help for the Home Skills Learning Project, a beautifully furnished library community room, just to mention a few) and this time each year for the past 70 years, Ossoli members have trudged into the work of putting on another May Day Festival so we can help our schools offer more for the students and so we can begin to make a new dream become reality. These honored ladies from 1946 inspire us to find strength to work for our dreams and never let them be diminished.
Ossoli Club, Corbin