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.”