City School to honor ‘Distinguished Alumni’

May 17, 2024

Barbourville Independent School will be hosting a Distinguished Alumni Awards program at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 24 in the Treadway Activity Center (new gym). Alumni being honroed include Bert Scent, Kay Burgess, Allen Fullen, Lt. General Elvy B. Roberts and Mary Frances Richardson.

Kay Burgess

Ms. Kay Burgess graduated from Barbourville High School in 1963 and began her college education at Highpoint University North Carolina. 

After a year at Highpoint, Kay returned to Eastern Kentucky University and graduated with a degree in education.  Ms. Burgess began teaching at her alma mater in September 1967 and she remained at Barbourville City School for the rest of her teaching tenure. 

Known for her creativity and making all of her students feel special, Ms. Burgess spent 53 years of her life giving back to Barbourville City School.  Mrs. Burgess wore many hats while at Barbourville, including elementary classroom teacher, gifted and talented coordinator, computer lab instructor, class sponsor, cheerleading coach, dance team coach and she was even the head baseball coach of the 1992 BHS Boys Baseball team.  Cheering on her beloved Tigers and helping raise thousands of dollars for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital were two things she deeply enjoyed during her time at Barbourville. 

Kay now enjoys spending time with her two sons, Ryan (Class of ‘92) and Travis (Class of 2000), and her soon-to-be three grandchildren, with the expected arrival of her third grandchild this summer. She is an avid UK basketball and football fan, and she can still be spotted on School Street from time to time cheering on her Tigers.

Allen Fullen

Mr. Allen Fullen graduated Barbourville High School in 1968.  

Allen broke the color barrier during the 1962-1963 school year as the first black athlete to play basketball for the Barbourville Tigers.  

Fullen was a young 7th grade boy playing on the varsity basketball team.  Fullen continued playing varisty basketball through graduation, averaging in double digits every year beginning in the eigth grade.  

Fullen’s intergration into the Barbourville Tigers was smooth and without incident.  Allen used his athletic career as a springboard to college, a twenty-year career in the Air Force, a logistics degree from Weber State University and a successful career as a logistics manager.  

Allen is married to his wife Annette and they have three children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchikdren.

Mary Frances Richardson

Ms. Mary Frances Richardson, Barbourville High School Class of 1958, was born and raised in Barbourville.  

After graduating from Barbourville, Mary went on to earn both her BSc and PhD in Chemistry from the University of Kentucky.  

Her post-doc work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, was on the team of chemists analyzing the dust and rocks brought back from the Moon in 1969 by the crew of Apollo 11.  During the early 1970s, Mary was told that as a woman she would never be hired in any sort of senior Chemistry position.  Mary applied at the Brock University Chemistry Department where she was hired.  Mary began her career at Brock in 1971 - 72, and she retired there thirty-five years later.  Outside of research, Mary’s first love was teaching.  

Mary received awards for outstanding teaching from Brock, from the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, and she was named the 1992 Canadian Professor of the Year by CASE, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Lt. Gen. Elvy Roberts

General Elvy Roberts graduated in the class of 1934 from Barbourville High School, and became the highest ranking officer to graduate from Barbourville High, obtaining the rank of Lieutenant General.  

He also holds the distinction of the highest ranking officer from Knox Co. KY. His thirty-five years of active service include combat action in World War II with the 101st Airborne Division as a company commander, regimental operations officer and battalion commander.  

He made combat jumps into Normandy and Holland and participated in the five major campaigns of the 101st Airborne Division including the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne.  He served three years in Vietnam as the 9th Infantry Division Chief of Staff and subsequently as Commander of the 1st Air Cavalry Division in 1969 and 1970.

 After returning to the United States in 1970 General Roberts was assigned as Chief of Army War Plans in the Pentagon.  In 1973, he was promoted to Lieutenant General and assigned as commander of the Sixth Army with forces of the 15 western states. After retiring from the Army in 1975, General Roberts stayed active in business in San Francisco, serving on the Board of Trustees of United Way, the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross, the USO, the Bay Area Boy Scouts Council and the Salvation Army.

He also served with the Association of Guide Dogs for the Blind.  His awards and decorations include: Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Sliver Star Medal for heroism with Oak Leaf Cluster, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star with V Device for heroism in combat action with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with V device and numeral 25, Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster, Combat Infantry Badge with Star, Master Parachute Badge, Helicopter Pilot Wings, Vietnam Sevice Medal with one silver and three bronze stars, Belgium Fourragere and Vietnam Master Parachute Badge, and other medals.

Bert Scent

Mr. James Albert “Bert” Scent grew up in Knox County and graduated from Barbourville High School  in 1962.  Bert went on to attend and graduate from Eastern Kentucky University.  

Upon graduation from EKU, Mr. Scent was a homebound teacher for a few years before he was hired in the job he was passionate about for many years.  

Bert was employed and worked for the Barbourville Mountain Advocate for just over 38 years.  During his career he attended most every event going on in our small community.  

During a time when pictures werent’ digital and you couldn’t edit and photoshop every photo, Bert told a story through his lense and shared it with our community through our local newspaper.  

There is no count as to how many beautiful and inspiring photos Bert has captured over the years.  Around 1980, Bert opened his own photography business, where he photographed families of our community for decades to come.  Bert is married to his wife, Linda and they have two sons, Micah (who is married to Missy) and Jonah (who is married to Marissa).  Bert’s pride and joy are his four grandchildren, Bailyn, Jonas, Graham, and Grace.



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