Alumni & Friends

Recognition Awards

Outstanding Tiger Alumni Award — 1994

Audra Wooldridge Stark

Class of 1924

Photograph of Audra Wooldridge StarkStark saw the college in Arkansas City become a reality in 1922, and later was a member of the first graduating class in 1924. Seventy years later, Stark said she couldn’t be happier about what has transpired through the decades. “I’m real proud of the way it’s growing and doing,” she said from her home in La Grange, Ga. “I am amazed. Sometimes I think about the fact that I had just finished high school in 1922 and there was no junior college. I was amazed at the small group of (high school) graduates who campaigned door-to-door to get a favorable vote to establish the junior college.” Stark remembers the push to build a center of higher education as if it were yesterday. “The people of Ark City were very much in favor of it,” she said. “The vote was four to one in favor of it.”

Stark, 89, moved from Arkansas City to her present home four years ago to be near her son Dan and his children. Another son, Jack, lives in Jackson, Wyo., and was honored in 1991 with the Outstanding Tiger Alumni award. “Not only did the college give me an opportunity my first two years, but I also married the chemistry teacher who was also the coach,” she said.

Stark’s husband, Dan Sr., taught math, chemistry, geology and navigation at the college for 41 years. He also coached basketball 21 years. Stark recalls how her husband, who died in 1979, influenced the future of his students at the college.

“So many students have received an education and gone ahead and been scholars and become tops in their fields,” she said. “One young man was working on his second doctorate in chemistry. He told my husband that ‘I owe it all to you. I had no intentions of going on any farther. But you challenged me to go farther.’ ”

Stark, who majored in English, and her husband of 54 years were involved in the growth of the college for years. Audra was on the committee to plan and establish Renn Memorial Library. On April 16, 1974, she spoke along with Sen. Bob Dole at the dedication ceremony of the library.

Stark said the small group of students during the early years enabled them to become close friends. She has kept in contact — 70 years after graduating — with several from her class. “We did everything together,” she said. “There were no clicks. We had a marvelous time.” Stark and her classmates also helped establish the college mascot, the tiger, and colors, orange and black. “The tiger emblem was settled on after Dan came,” Audra said. “The first year we chose orange and black as the colors. The second year Dan came and he was coaching. He had been on the intercollegiate basketball team at the University of Missouri and they were (and still are) the Tigers.”

Stark has received several civic awards through the years. She received a commendation from Arkansas City Memorial Hospital for her distinguished service. She was a member of the hospital’s board of trustees 19 years. And in 1981 she and her husband received an award from the college for outstanding service.

While in Arkansas City, Stark was the first female chairman of the board and one of the first female elders at Central Christian Church. She is now Elder Emeritus.

Stark is active in her church in La Grange and belongs to the La Grange Women’s Club and a book review club.