By Chris McGuinness
Killeen Daily Herald
When Copperas Cove resident Bud Owsley drives past Central Texas College, the sight of the sprawling campus brings back memories of the school's humble beginnings.
"It was much smaller then. You had some buildings and a few vending machines and that was about it," said Owsley, 80. "It was the very beginning of what the school would become in the future."
Owsley, who started his career at the community college in 1971, is president of the Central Texas College Retirees Association. The nonprofit group has about 50 former staff and faculty members.
For nearly 21 years, Owsley was the college's director of food services and an instructor in the hotel and food services program. After retiring in 1991, he worked with college officials and other retirees to create the association, which held its first official meeting a year later.
"We thought it would be a good idea to get retirees together, to stay in contact and continue to be involved at the college," said Owsley. "There's a wealth of knowledge when you have people who have worked somewhere for such a long time, and we wanted to use it to help."
As part of the organization's charter, it donates 51 percent of the money collected through dues and fundraising to the college for scholarships.
"In the early days, we were always trying to get out and raise money to help out students," said Edgar Odom, an association member who retired from the college in 1991. "We did everything from spaghetti dinners to garage sales."
These days, the group uses its dues to fund an endowment scholarship in the association's name with the Central Texas College Foundation, giving between $2,100 and $2,500 each year.
"We wanted to continue providing a quality education for local students," said Odom, who taught in the college's criminal justice program and the former regional police academy. "It's one of the primary reasons the association got started."
For members, such as Odom and Owsley, the association not only offers the chance to help current students but also provides a place to catch up with former co-workers and friends.
"There's a social element that everyone likes because we were all close, and it's great to be able to still have that camaraderie all these years later," said Odom.
At the group's monthly meetings, members gather at various locations in Killeen and Copperas Cove and often have guest speakers.
"It's a feeling of fellowship," said Owsley. "We got to watch the college grow, and we got to play a part in what it has become today.
"We are proud of what we have accomplished," he said. "The college is a very important part of our community, and we hope to help it continue to serve the people here."
Contact Chris McGuinness at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.
Central Texas College Retirees Association
The Central Texas College Retirees Association is open to anyone who retired from the community college or other local institutions of higher education.
Dues are $50 for members who make $25,000 or more; $25 for those who make between $15,000 and $24,000; and $10 for members who make $14,000 or less. Disabled retirees don't pay dues.
For more information, call (254) 634-9774.