Mr. Woodrow Park
Mr. Woodrow (Woody) Park.

Mr. J. Woodrow Park and my father were born in Rockport at about the same time and they both died about the same time. These two men had more of an influence on me than anyone else. It seemed that for a period of time, when I was in High School at Rockport, I saw more of and was taught about as much from Mr. Park, as from my father. Thus, you can see why I place those two people in such high esteem.

If you were asked to write a few paragraphs about Woodrow Park, where would you start? What would you write? What would you omit or leave out? Remember, you only have a few paragraphs to use. This guy, Mr. Park, probably influenced more people in Rockport than any other person. Oh, there have been many people in Rockport that have greatly influenced others, but none for such an extended period of time as Mr. Park. I wish that someone else had given me a write-up on Mr. Park instead of me picking at this computer keyboard and trying to come up with something to do justice to one of our great educators. Oh well, after all, he was a mere mortal and not some super being.

Woodrow Park graduated from Rockport High School in 1928 and probably knew then what he wanted to do in life. He entered Western Kentucky State University the next year and started teaching at Rockport in 1931. This was a few years before the new school was to be built. He continued teaching during the period of time when the old school building burned, during the times when school was taught in private buildings in and around Rockport, and when the new school started receiving students. He became the Principal of the Rockport School and served in that position, as well as teaching high school. Juanita Kennedy graduated from Rockport in 1944, started teaching there in 1945 and a few years later, married Mr. Woodrow Park. Rockport now had a married couple that would stay with the Rockport School system until it was no more. Mr. Park helped educate the young people in Rockport before the new school was built and now he and his new wife continued at Rockport until the High School was moved to Beaver Dam in 1957. Juanita continued to teach when Rockport High School became a Grade School and stayed until the school burned in September of 1967. Woodrow became the Principal at Beaver Dam in 1957. After that, Woodrow Park became Superintendent Of Ohio County System and Juanita K. Park finished her teaching career as a Professor at Western Kentucky State University.

Mr. Park wore many hats during his working career and I have only mentioned a few of those positions. He was also the basketball coach for most of the time that Rockport had a basketball team. He was a soldier, Sunday School Teacher, tour guide, councilor, insurance salesman, very active in his church as well as about anything that pertained to the betterment of Rockport. He was at the school when it opened and stayed until it closed. He was there for about any school event including basketball, other sports, Halloween Events, and on and on. He taught basketball, volleyball and even gymnastics and track. Gymnastics was called tumbling then and track was some foot races, mostly held at the old Fairgrounds. If it was a sport at Rockport, I tried to be involved and Mr. Park always seemed to be there as a coach and an educator. I don't ever remember winning a race, finishing very high in basketball or volleyball tournaments and the tumbling was mostly display instead of competition. None-the-less, if a student wanted to participate in any extra curricular activities, they were encouraged by Mr. Park to do their best and no matter how bad they were, they played.

In 1943, a World War was going on in Europe and in the Pacific Islands. Mr. Park became a soldier and he served his country valiantly. He saw and was a part of the action in the Pacific Islands. As a teacher, Mr. Park liked to throw in some material that did not pertain to the particular class. It was just his way to stay a better teacher. In his math and other classes, he would mention some of his experiences of his military career. These stories were never about the actual combat, but of the other experiences that were sometimes funny and sometimes entertaining. Thus, we never knew about the combat part of his military life. As a returning hero, he settled into continuing his desire in life and continued the teaching of others.

My remembrances of Woodrow Park are endless. My fond remembrances of Woodrow are the same. If it was broke, Mr. Park fixed it. If you were wrong, your were punished. If you excelled, he offered his congratulations. If you were trying, he encouraged you. The only "Paddling" that I ever received at school was by Mr. Park. I was in the seventh/eight grade and Charles O'Brien was a Freshman in High School. My remembrance of the event was that Charles pushed me or tried to cut in front of me at the water fountain. Charles may have other remembrances. None-the-less, a fight started in the hall and before many blows were thrown, Mr. Park was there and the both of us ended up in the principal's office. After a "Paddling" for each of us, we shook hands, became friends again and never had to make a return trip to the principal's office for punishment. That problem was corrected and put to rest. That was Mr. Park.

As expected, I have gone long on this write-up. It is not that I have left out anything, it is that I don't have the time, nor the ability to write a biography on Mr. Park. He was there soon after I moved back to Rockport in 1945. We had survived two years in Louisville and it was time to return home. He was there until I graduated from High School. He and Juanita took me and a few other 1954 graduates to Western Kentucky State College to get us registered and enrolled for college. He was there when I came back from service and there when I moved back to Rockport after two years of technical school in Paducah. It just seems that he was always there when needed.

If you are still reading this, thanks. I hope these few paragraphs bring back memories of school days at Rockport and that you will reminisce and drift back in time to the "Good Old Days" at the old high school. In doing so, I would think that you can't get far in your travels back in time that memories of Mr. Woodrow Park don't saturate your thoughts. Thanks for looking.


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