Hugh C. Spalding died at Sacred Heart Village in Louisville on Sunday, April 20, 2014. He was 101. Born of Thomas and Elizabeth Mattingly Spalding in 1912 in St. Joseph, Ky., he (mostly known as "Mr. Hugh") served as Marion County superintendent of schools from 1937 until 1975 (minus two years of military service during World War II, which he spent teaching a new technology, radar, to fighter pilots).
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Spalding started his career in education as an 18-year-old high school graduate. His task was to teach grades one through eight at the Hagan School, a one-room schoolhouse. He attended Western Kentucky State Teachers College during off semesters, and later got his Master's degree from the University of Kentucky by attending evening classes. At 21 he was named Supervisor for the Marion County Schools, and at 25 became Superintendent of the Marion County School system.
His life goal was to help Marion County's children get the best education possible. This goal meant hiring and encouraging the most talented teachers available and urging students to remain in school beyond the legally mandated minimum age. He facilitated racial integration, starting by integrating school buses and implementing the GI Bill for all veterans regardless of race, years, before Kentucky law allowed school integration.
His ambition for Marion County children meant consolidating multitudes of tiny one-room schools and very small high schools and combining the separate Marion County and Lebanon school systems into one.
He built a state-of-the-art Marion County Vocational School, working always toward the dream of a large, new, well-equipped high school with teachers who knew their special subjects deeply. His dream came true in 1970 with the opening of Marion County High School.
His hobbies included raising flowers, traveling the country and the world. His other activities included community service, notably the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which he headed for decades. He was named "Dean of Kentucky School Superintendents" when he retired. The Hugh C. Spalding Academy is named in his honor.
He was preceded in death by his parents and siblings, Marion, Aaron, Felix, Theodore, Imogen, Rebecca, Kermit and William; and by his wife of 68 years, Sara Bernadette Hill Spalding.
Survivors include four daughters-Sarah Comi (Richard), Betsy Delmonico (Neal), Catherine Spalding (Marty Johnson), and Rose Spalding (Will Denton); a son, Hugh Spalding; 12 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
A Mass of Christian burial was 11 a.m. Friday, April 25, at St. Augustine Catholic Church with interment in the church cemetery. The Rev. Joe Hayden officiated. Graveside military honors were conducted by the Marion County Veterans Honor Guard.
Pallbearers were Will Denton, David Comi, Joseph Comi, Marty Johnson, Hugh Spalding Jr., and Liam Otter.
Bosley Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Bosley Funeral Home
246 South Proctor Knot Avenue
Lebanon, KY 40033
Published in The Kentucky Standard on Apr. 30, 2014