Judy Queen and Linda Keasling are excited about sleeping in, spending time with grandchildren, and doing all of the things they want to do when they want to do them. The two Cowley employees retired at the end of May. Queen was an instructor in the college’s Social Science Department, while Keasling served as secretary in the Industrial Technology Department. A retirement reception was held May 7 in the Earle N. Wright Community Room and Gallery inside the Brown Center.
Queen, who lives in Ponca City, has been a Cowley employee since 1987. She has been a full-time Social Science instructor since 1996. Her early years at the college were spent working with the Single Parent/Displaced Homemaker and Balancing Work and Family grant programs. She was a member of the faculty at Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa when Dr. Carol Hobaugh-Maudlin called her about the grants at Cowley.
Queen seemed to be the perfect choice for working with single parents and displaced homemakers in trying to get them back in school and back on their feet. Why? Because after staying home to raise her three children, Queen went to college for the first time. She was 32 years old. She went to NOC for three years, then transferred to Oklahoma State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics. She earned a master’s degree in 1986 just prior to coming to Cowley. Not until her children were older did she realize she could teach. An introvert by nature, Queen realized the importance of teaching and the relationships she’d build throughout the years. “I was a first-generation higher education graduate, so it took me a while to realize I could do it,” she said. “I had a high school teacher tell me that I ought to become a teacher, but that was the furthest thing from my mind.”
When she first arrived at Cowley, Queen spent three-fourths of her time working for the grant programs. The remainder of her time was spent teaching one or two classes in the Social Science Department. As a full-time instructor, Queen taught developmental psychology, nutrition, education in American society, sociology, and the different child care classes the college offers. It was a diverse schedule, and one that Queen enjoyed. “I have enjoyed the students, and they are the ones I’ll miss most,” Queen said. “You always have a few you get extra close to. They almost become your own kids. In the single parent program, we went through so much together.”
Queen is a two-time survivor of breast cancer, and some day hopes to do volunteer work in a support role. “Someone who’s been there can tell someone going through it exactly what they’re going to feel,” said Queen, who has been cancer-free since early 1986. “It’s an emotional train ride you’re on. If the person you’re talking to has been there, it’s a lot easier to deal with.” On March 4, 1998, Queen was dealt another personal blow. Her husband of more than 38 years lost his battle with colon cancer. “I was going to quit (Cowley) and take care of him when he got sick,” Queen said. “But he (Jerry) wouldn’t hear of it. Cowley was, in many respects, my salvation through all of that. Everybody was so good.” Jerry Queen was a Southern Baptist minister.
In May 1994, Judy presented a session at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development in Austin, Texas. A year later, she received the Region VII Exemplary Program Award for a magazine story in which she shared her teaching tips in the classroom. The article appeared in the Association for Career and Technical Education magazine titled “Techniques.” In retirement, Queen plans to spend time with her six grandchildren, do some traveling and, just like her home economics background, get back into sewing and oil painting. She may even come back and take some painting lessons from Cowley art instructor Mark Flickinger. “I’m going to enjoy not having to get up early, and no grading papers on weekends,” Queen said.
Keasling, IT Department secretary since 1996, wasn’t even looking for a job when she was hired. She had been scouring the want ads for her sister-in-law. IT faculty have been thrilled she took the job. “We’re really going to miss you,” department chair Bruce Crouse told Keasling during the reception. “You have come up with so many ideas that turned into successes. I’m not sure what we’re going to do.”
Keasling knew a lot about Cowley prior to 1996. As an employee of the Winfield State Hospital & Training Center, one of Keasling’s jobs was secretary of the hospital’s nursing education and staff development areas. That’s when she worked with college officials such as Tony Buffo, Walt Mathiasmeier, and Conrad Jimison. Keasling helped set up courses hospital employees could take at Cowley. Keasling started work at WSH&TC on Dec. 1, 1965. It was the first job she ever had.
Prior to 1965, Keasling was a stay-at-home mother of two. “I went to work to put my kids through college, and I did just that,” she said. Keasling grew up at Dexter, but graduated high school in Winfield. On Aug. 2, 1954, she married Marvin Keasling. Marvin retired three years ago from the Cowley County Road Crew. The Keaslings collect antique tractors and have been members of the Kansas and Oklahoma Steam and Gas Engine Association for many years. Linda served as the organization’s secretary for 15 years, and she’s getting ready to volunteer her time once again.
She volunteered to organize Good Ole Days, an event for youth sponsored by the association. The event is scheduled for October. “I don’t want to be real, real busy,” Keasling said of her retirement. “I like to garden and work with my flowers. And I like to go camping.” Keasling said her mother always wanted her to become a teacher. “I always wanted to be a secretary,” she said. “I had no desire to change vocations.”
Keasling said she’s enjoyed the past seven years at Cowley. “I’m going to miss these guys down here (in the IT Department),” she said. “And some of the students you get real attached to. Many have come back to see me. What’s been good about these guys is that they give you credit for what you do. I don’t know what I’ll do come August.”