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Iowa Central looks back to its beginning

Way back in 1966 there were only two employees of what was then the Area V Community College-Vocational School: Donald Klucking, of Webster City, and Edwin Barbour, of Eagle Grove.

Klucking was the school’s secretary and business manager.

Barbour, who at that time had been Eagle Grove’s superintendent of schools for more than a decade, became the first superintendent of what is now known as Iowa Central Community College.

Fifty years later, he has been named to Iowa Central’s Hall of Fame as humanitarian, perhaps the greatest honor that could be bestowed on a man whose professional life was dedicated to an expanding avenue of education. The honor is posthumous; Barbour died March 29, 1993, at the age of 76. He retired as college president in 1983.

“A native of Beaconsfield, a tiny Ringgold County hamlet, which had a high school from which he graduated in 1934, Barbour started teaching at Arispe in 1936 after two years at Parsons College Fairfield,” according to a story published by The Messenger. “He earned his bachelor, master and doctor degrees in education by summer and special studies while continuing to teach school and coach. The bachelor came from Parson’s in 1941, the master’s from the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, in 1948 the doctorate from Iowa State University in February 1966 – only months before he accepted the Area V position.”

Barbour recalled the beginning this way: “When I become superintendent in the summer of 1966, only the foundations of the science and library buildings on the north end of our complex had been poured. Those buildings had been authorized by voters of the Fort Dodge Community School District which was then operating the two-year college. There was a soybean field where our administration and voc-tech buildings and parking lots now are, a vacant lot bordering U.S. 20 where the dormitories are.”

The comments were made in 1978, long before the four-lane U.S. 20 was more than simply an idea.

There were 46 school districts in the nine-county area comprised of Buena Vista, Calhoun, Greene, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Sac, Webster and Wright.

The principal centers were in Fort Dodge, Webster City and Eagle Grove.

“We were scattered all over,” he recalled. “The Dodge Building – a former bowling alley bordering U.S. 169, which later became Iowa Central Rehabilitation Industries – was one of our centers. We had seven temporary metal buildings as classrooms, we rented the old 4-H building on the grounds and the Shaffer Building near the Expo Pool.”

As Iowa Central prepares for its homecoming on Saturday, Barbour’s legacy will, literally, surround it. Long gone is the beanfield and the two-employee startup.