Bobbie Owensby Share

Jan 13, 2022  |  Layla Price-Bodkin

Bob­bie (Smith) Owens­by was born in Ear­le, Arkansas, on a farm, but knew ear­ly in life that work­ing on a farm was not for her. After grad­u­at­ing from high school, she enrolled in col­lege with mon­ey she earned. She grad­u­at­ed from a col­lege now called the Uni­ver­si­ty of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. After achiev­ing her high­er edu­ca­tion, she moved to Mar­i­on, IN, where some fam­i­ly lived. In 1973, at the age of 22, she was hired as a teacher with Mar­i­on High School, and began what was to become a long­stand­ing loy­al career. She always taught class­es cen­tered in social stud­ies at MHS. Now, semi-retired, she teach­es half-days, while reflect­ing on many reward­ing moments through­out her near­ly 50 years there.

One large reward is through the Black His­to­ry Club she helped ini­ti­ate in the mid-70s dur­ing a time of lim­it­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties for minori­ties. A hand­ful of stu­dents had approached her want­i­ng to do a play, she said yes, and pulled strings to get the fund­ing in order to put on their first play. The ear­ly club decid­ed to per­form Purlie, a Broad­way musi­cal on civ­il rights and sal­va­tion from slav­ery. Their per­for­mance received over­whelm­ing com­mu­ni­ty sup­port and encour­age­ment to con­tin­ue sim­i­lar pro­duc­tions, thus they do shows each year. In addi­tion to putting on plays and musi­cals, at times even of their own cre­ation, the Black His­to­ry Club trav­els to col­leges around the U.S., main­ly those heav­i­ly promi­nent in black cul­ture. The club also per­forms acts of com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice each year by enter­tain­ing at venues includ­ing the VA, var­i­ous senior liv­ing facil­i­ties, and more. They have even tak­en big trips abroad to learn African cul­ture and his­to­ry. Owens­by reflect­ed fond­ly on their trips to both Egypt and Brazil. 

In 2019, Owens­by was named an hon­orary inductee into the Mar­i­on High School Hall of Dis­tinc­tion, which she expressed was a sur­prise and great honor.

She vol­un­teers for the Clarence Faulkn­er Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter, and led a fundrais­ing project to save the cen­ter from being sold and fur­ther repay every­one who loaned mon­ey to save the prop­er­ty. The cen­ter has held enrich­ment and tutor­ing pro­grams for youth and con­tin­ues to serve the community.

Owens­by is an active mem­ber of St. Paul Bap­tist Church.

She and her hus­band, Vern, have two grown chil­dren, and five grandchildren.

Owens­by is a faith­ful cham­pi­on for the bet­ter­ment of her stu­dents. My whole focus is my stu­dents. I love to see their growth and love see­ing them go into edu­ca­tion and return to Mar­i­on. I love when they get involved in the com­mu­ni­ty and become cham­pi­ons them­selves. See­ing my stu­dents become lead­ers is out­stand­ing, and the best reward an edu­ca­tor can receive.”

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