Navarro College prepares for 70th anniversary celebrations

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Corsicana Daily Sun
from Staff Reports
July 30, 2016

Editor’s Note: In celebration of Navarro College’s 70th Anniversary, the Daily Sun is running a series of articles each Saturday leading up to homecoming and an alumni celebration on Saturday, Oct. 8.

During its 70-year history, Navarro College has served thousands of students, but for one current student, Kaitlin Gorden, Navarro is her family’s legacy. A member of the Lady Bulldog softball team, Kaitlin represents the fourth generation of her family to attend Navarro. Her great-grandfather, Kerens native Jim Bob Ivey, now 92 years old, was a member of the first class of Navarro students in 1946. Like most of his classmates, he was a returning veteran of World War II, taking advantage of the recently enacted GI Bill that provided funds to returning servicemen to attend college. Ivey was captain of the first Bulldog football team, earning all-conference honors as a guard, although he weighed only 160 pounds.

The campus at the time was located at the current Corsicana municipal airport. The Air Activities of Texas had served as a training site for pilots during World War II. More than 8,000 cadets from all over the United States received primary flight training at the Corsicana field. When it closed at the end of the war, local business leaders and educators secured the facility to serve as the first campus of the newly-created college. Like many of his classmates, Ivey and his wife lived in the barracks which had housed cadets who had trained there during the war. Consequently, those students who attended classes at that campus affectionately refer to themselves as the “Barracks Bunch,” and they comprise Navarro’s most loyal group of alumni.

Little did Ivey know that he was setting the path for future generations of his family to attend Navarro College. His daughter, Susie Biscoe, and his granddaughter, Jill Pena, are both Navarro graduates. Great-granddaughter Kaitlin Gorden continues the legacy as she begins her second year at Navarro. Having a local, low-cost, accessible college staffed by caring faculty has benefitted not only the family of Jim Bob Ivey but also thousands of others for seven decades.

SOURCE: Corsicana Daily Sun