Meet Bud and Kay Underwood
The new OBI cafeteria facility is named in honor of Dr. & Mrs. W.F. “Bud” and Kay Underwood. Bud and Kay are 1963 OBI alumni who returned to OBI in 1984 to join the staff—Bud as the Dean of Boys and work program supervisor and Kay as the administrative assistant to OBI President Dr. Barkley Moore. Two of the Underwood’s three children graduated from OBI.
Upon Dr. Moore’s death in 1994, Bud was called to serve as OBI’s 10th president and served in this capacity until his retirement in 2012. Cumberland College presented him with an honorary doctorate in 1995. Kay continued to serve as an administrative assistant and later the international admissions director. The Underwoods worked tirelessly to lead OBI. Stewardship was the theme as faculty and staff housing and compensation were improved, campus facilities updated and departments streamlined. Dr. Underwood was well known for standing at the dining hall exit as students returned their trays to make sure they did not waste food. One of Dr. Underwood’s greatest achievements on behalf of OBI was establishing an endowment that would provide financial stability for many years to come.
The Underwood’s commitment to stewardship and savings has enabled OBI to make this much-needed improvement.
Come to the Table Campaign
Beyond just a place to eat a meal, a dining table is a significant part of the human experience. It is over the dining table that moods are lightened, smiles are exchanged, problems are shared, friendships are forged.
When we began planning Underwood Hall, we not only wanted an initiative to help fund the construction but also a chance to honor the alumni and friends who have spent so many years connecting over a meal in the old OBI dining hall located in James A. Burns Hall which also housed the girls' dormitory. We invited anyone to tell us a story or to share a fond memory set in the OBI dining hall. Many participated, and we compiled their stories on the old website, and preserved them here. Enjoy reading...
Perhaps this memory of my time in the OBI cafeteria will seem odd, but it is one I am compelled to share. Having spent 30 of my 43 years at OBI, I must imagine I have eaten just about as many meals in our cafeteria as anyone ever has. My most unique memory stems from some lunches shared with a young man who was a student at Oneida for a brief time. We were both maybe 16 or 17 years of age at the time. While I don’t remember much about what we ate, I do recall conversations about basketball, life, etc. I am not even sure what led us to the same lunch table for a brief period, but I believe the Lord is using it for His good today. This student I ate several lunches with ran into some serious trouble shortly after leaving Oneida. In the past few years I have corresponded with him and have had the opportunity to minister to him. Had we not gathered around the Oneida table many years ago this would not be possible or happening today. Coming to the Oneida table is not really about the food, but rather the lifelong bonds and friendships that are made. Submitted by Mr. Larry A. Gritton, Class of 1993
When I came on staff in 2003 I was put on night shift in the dorm pretty quickly. You see very few people when you work 6 pm to 6 am. As a single person the dining hall was the place to meet people and find out what other people did. I have made a lot of friends here and enjoy spending time gathered around the table. Submitted by Ms. Susette Clark, Houseparent and Student Coordinator
My husband Jorge and I came to Oneida only four short years ago. The dinner table in our home was a place where we would share our “highs” and “lows” for the day. It was a place to regroup, reflect and lay it all aside. So coming to Oneida where we never hardly eat as a family because all our schedules are so unpredictable was very different for us. Different is not bad. It allowed us to reach out, connect and add to our family. We enjoy when the volleyball girls or other kids are drawn to us at the table. They can share about the highs and lows of their day and can get a much needed hug or word of encouragement. We love our Oneida family, the staff and the kids are a blessing and we thank God for them. Submitted by Mrs. Allie Valdereas, former staff member and coach
I'm very thankful for the lunch ladies for their hard work to have to prepare something for us every morning and providing lunch on time during school and dinner in the afternoon. It is good to wake up knowing that there will be food if we are hungry. Submitted by Cameron, a student
The dining hall has been a major source of social time besides free time. It helps when people have more time to come together and bond and just "chill." Submitted by Nathan, a student
The Oneida dining hall has meant a lot to me. The lunch ladies are so nice and caring. I do enjoy meal time, because I get to talk to my friends and visit with staff people. Submitted by Charmaine, a student
I have enjoyed the camaraderie of the dining hall and eating with my friends like a family. Submitted by Elise, a student
When Steve May, Krissy May Combs and I first came to OBI it was during spring break and it was rainy and dreary. I didn’t think to highly of it. We were invited back for graduation 1982 when all the kids were there. When we went to the cafeteria for lunch the place was buzzing with kids and a food fight broke out. That is when I fell in love with OBI!! Submitted by Roxann Gray May, former staff
A few memories of the dining hall from the 1996-1998 era are: Getting to eat in the "faculty" dining room for lunch as a senior- big dogs on campus. Got to drink Tea!! LOL Also- many of us started a food fight, and it was so fun - UNTIL we had to clean the entire dining room before being allowed to go back to class. Spent many a night in late-night study hall (in faculty dining room) till 3am studying for tests as a jr/sr. And "sneaking" down the back stairwell of the girls dorm into the dining room- to get late-night snack of Chocolate milk--yummy! Submitted by Amy Walls
My favorite dessert was at OBI. It had layers of chocolate, cool whip, graham crackers! Submitted by Patrick Rowe, former teacher
Eating in the dining hall always helped contribute to the sense of family at OBI. I enjoyed the camaraderie associated with eating in there -- even on days when the food on the menu might not have been my first choice. (Liver and onions!). I remember one day at lunch sitting across the table from Mark Palmieri and saying, "We need to pray for...." a student. He said, "Well, if you feel like we need to pray for them, we need to do it right now!" He reached across the table, took my hands, and prayed for that student right there at the lunch table! Submitted by Cynthia Jones, former teacher
Ada "Granny" Abner received her 35 year service award from Dr. W.F. Underwood in May, 2004
The house that Archie built, one yeast roll at a time! Archie and Ada "Granny" put so much love into what they did for us. Submitted by Amy Robinson Hargis, OBI alumna
Everything starts in the kitchen. It’s where you learned to work with each other from slopping hogs to snapping string beans it’s where love starts and lasts a lifetime. Submitted by Wayne Iames Jr.
The most memorable story I have regarding Mr. Underwood and the dining hall revolves around the dining room tables. It was the late 80’s and the school had received a large donation of old army barrack beds frames. Mr. Underwood had come up with a plan to make dining room tables out of those bed frames in an effort to replace the worn out tables that were being used. I was working in the yard crew shop at the bottom of the hill and built most of those tables each one having to be assembled stained and poly- eurathaned. They looked nice. Several years after graduating from OBI I had returned for a tour. Mr. Underwood was now the President of the school and on the tour when we had arrived in the dining hall Mr. Underwood pointed me out to the tour and told the story about me building the tables. During the story he mentioned one thing that I had forgotten all about. One night during study hall, Mr. Underwood recalled to the tour that he remembered hearing a loud noise only to look over and see a boy picking himself up off the floor. Mr. Underwood asked what happened, and I explained to Mr. Underwood that the kid was writing on the new table that I had put so much work into making nice. To this day I don’t recall the boys name but, I do recall Mr. Underwood teaching us to take pride in what we accomplish and I guess that’s what I did! God bless you Mr. and Mrs. Underwood!!! Submitted by Claude Crider, Class of 1990
The reason I am writing is in regard to my Oneida English teacher, Maralea Arnett. She was a wonderful person. She lived across the street from the school. One day she invited me and three other boys to have dinner at her home. She had a salad of cottage cheese with one-half of a canned peach on top. All four of us had never seen that before. We didn’t know how or when to eat the salad. She finally asked if something was wrong with the salad. We then realized it should be eaten with dinner and we gobbled it up. It was a lesson that I will never forget. Submitted by Bobby Joe Martin, Class of 1952
Dining Hall Stings Student Twice—The dining hall is the reason I received my first ever swats at school, my senior year. When I attended Oneida, both the regular dining hall and senior dining hall had doors that opened into the lobby of the girl’s dormitory where the dean’s office was. There was a rule that anyone using the senior dining room door as a shortcut to the lobby would get swats. I am a rule follower by nature, but one day, I had a bit of “senioritis.” I decided to take my chances and use that shortcut to go to my dorm room. The new dean was in her office; I was caught. (Who can forget being prompted, after receiving swats, to thank them for caring enough to enforce the rules... but I digress.) I was still smarting from the painful, stinging swats when I learned that they decided to take that rule off the books. Now that stung! Submitted by Sharon Evans, Class of 1988
Dining Hall Plays Early Morning Joke on Girlfriend—My boyfriend and I met for breakfast one morning. However, I am not a morning person; it takes me a long time to wake up. But I love, love, love breakfast! Not many people were at breakfast that day. We got our food and sat down across from each other at the end of the long empty table. I went to get milk from “the cow.” Focused only on carrying my milk, when I sat back down I noticed my food was gone! I looked up for an explanation and to say “good joke, where’s my food?” The person sitting across from me was grinning, but not my boyfriend! I was sitting at the next table over, with someone else. Submitted by Sharon Evans, Class of 1988
Dining Hall: Where Life Happens—During my days at Oneida we communicated with the boys outside of class, at meals and free time. (Cell phones weren’t around yet.) The dining hall was one place I could count on seeing my boyfriend, especially if one of us were campused or otherwise unable to go to free time at the gym. The short romance with my boyfriend had run its course and we were breaking up. The dining hall was where I retrieved my senior ring, ending my first high school attempt at dating. Submitted by Sharon Evans, Class of 1988
As a student , working in the kitchen or dining hall wasn’t the most fun job until you got to know the cooks. Of course we are talking mid 70s. We were assigned jobs every two weeks in the girls’ dorm. Dorm work was preferable, but if you were smart you learned to “have fun” and get to know the ladies in the kitchen and let them get to know you. Back then the chief cook was a little lady named Ada Abner—they called her “Granny” in the 80s, but to us, she was Ada. Then we had Archie Couch, Betty Woods, Cassie Mills, May Helton, Dot Burns and by our senior year a perky young relative of Ada named Dean Abner. If you got extra hours, you served those in the kitchen, so for several it was inevitable you got to know them all really well.
My least favorite time to work was on Sundays in the am before we had to go to church, same for pm service. If we had pots and pans or dining hall duty, we had to really hustle up to get it done. Then head upstairs to dress for church! My absolute favorite job was the spray washer where we had to run all the plates through. You see, back then there was an outside window by the old dishroom and when we felt silly we would spray it at the boys walking by as they left the dining room. It eventually began earning us extra hours, if the boys complained or we got caught. At times we didn’t care if some cute fella or someone we were sweet on walked by…. It was silly fun that made washing dishes less of a chore.
I know now due to regulations that students don’t work in the kitchen the way we did. But even the WORST jobs, like having to clean the slop room (food thrown out went to feed the pigs on the farm and it had to be washed down – ugh), have etched memories that actually endear OBI to us. It’s all a part of the “Education for Time and Eternity.” I truly thank God for those sweet, sweet ladies and wish I had one more chance to thank them all. Ada and Dot have gone Home. Archie, Cassie, Betty, and Mae are still living in the local area, as is Dean, who I am always glad to see at Homecoming.
You know, before you can “Come to the Table” you gotta have those who prepare the food and set it (the table). Thank you ladies for those precious lessons and memories. Submitted by Donna “DJ” Hampton, Class of 1979, OBI Faculty 1993-2000
I miss the breakfast buffet. Always got full in the morning from those biscuits and gravy. I miss the breakfast buffet. Always got full in the morning from those biscuits and gravy. Submitted by Jennifer Leann
I remember when they refurbished and added the extra dining area and added dining area became the faculty and senior dining area. It felt good in a way that we as seniors could almost always find a place to sit. I also remember having to always hurry to third lunch coming from the upstairs of the chapel to eat and get to our next class. Submitted by Robert Stedman
Yum! What’s not to love & remember about OBI meals & open dining! Yummo and friends at supper every night! Submitted by Carla Dillard Scalf
I once enjoyed my lunch and company so much that I got comfortable and took my glasses off laying them on my lunch tray. At that time, you took your tray to the dish room window and the workers emptied the remains in the slop bucket. By the time I remembered where I left my glasses, they had been fed to the pigs on the farm for dinner! Submitted by Carol Frisby
I loved going to the Grill on Friday nights where Mr. and Mrs. Winters were in charge! I miss those days! Submitted by Lexus Ferguson
When I first came to OBI, it was after being out of teaching for 10 years. I had 3 children, one in K, one in 3rd grade, and a 7th grader in MS. So I felt very overwhelmed adjusting to lesson plans, papers to grade, and labs to set up in Home Economics, as well as coordinating kids for school and homework.
Everyday as we would go to dinner in the dining hall, we would, of course, bow our heads to thank God for our food. My biggest “thank you” to God was for the kitchen workers preparing our food and cleaning up after us. I had NO time to do either of those with my new busy schedule. I didn’t even have to buy the groceries or plan the meals! It was such a huge blessing to me to have all that provided! (Those were the days of “Granny” and Dean Abner, Cassie, and Carolyn Hinkle when so many things were made from scratch -cinnamon rolls, hot dog buns, hot browns -- mmmm! --- and sooo good!)
We were then able to fellowship as a family, talking over events of the day, and even visit with other OBI families who joined us, getting to know them some, as we all enjoyed our meal together. It was a refreshing, relaxing time for all of us before we walked home to do homework, lesson plans, baths, and bedtime routines.
To this day, back at OBI for the 3rd time and 17 years of service, I praise God every meal for providing for us so abundantly with food and kitchen staff to make my life so much more enjoyable!! Submitted by Kitty Stidham, former teacher and staff
I have a story that I’ve shared throughout the years during lunch in the 1990 school year. The school had been given a very large donation of sausage that year. I remember thinking then that I would never eat another bite of sausage as long as I lived. That’s as nice as I can be about how I felt about that donation of never-ending sausage. Now, I understand and appreciate the staff being good stewards but that certainly was not my feelings in 1990 at age 17.
Well, like someone mentioned, Mr. Underwood wanted to teach us to not waste food. His rule then about the lunch line was easy: Get all you want, but you better eat every bite. So I lined up for lunch that day thinking “Yes! Burgers today, my favorite and I’m starving!” I proceeded to load my plate high with those amazing homemade hamburger buns. Man, those were so good! Then, of course, those fresh grown red tomatoes (that I haven’t seen in years, by the way). Baked beans, the works. I grabbed four piled high and walked to our table. I can still remember the looks I was given that said clearly, “Are you nuts? What are you thinking getting so much food?” I’m smiling ear to ear, sit down, take that first bite. Best I can remember, it took around 2 seconds to realize I was in deep trouble. No! I had been forsaken. The hamburger meat had been secretly switched out with sausage, maybe thinking no one would notice. Even worse yet, it could have been that those usually quiet and under-appreciated lunch ladies were seeking revenge and did have a sense of humor.
It didn’t matter. What mattered most was I had 15 minutes to figure out what I was to do. After all, I was not scared of much at 17, but one thing we were all scared of was Bud Underwood. He was a living legend back then. I remember we were all convinced that every night he would hide in the trees around the smoking section and watch us for hours. He just knew too much. Now, I don’t want to give the wrong impression--that he mistreated us or anything, far from it. He was just a very talented guy that seemed always two steps in front of us. You just didn’t get over on him. You weren’t going to be able to sneak past him with leftovers hidden in a milk carton. With Underwood, you weren’t going to butter him up to take it easy on you or anything. I guess what I’m saying is that all the normal tricks that worked with the others, didn’t fly with Mr. Underwood. I still don’t know how he instilled all that fear or commanded so much respect in a bunch of misfit kids aside from locking us in the dungeon or beating us. Anyone who knows him or was there knows what I’m talking about. He was just a no-nonsense guy, like that dad you didn’t want to let down.
Anyway I started sweating. I knew I was done for and there was no way out of this mess I was in. I thought, “One last hope--My buddies!” These guys had become my brothers over the years together. I would do anything for them and they me, but they drew the line when it came to that sausage and deep down I understood. Some things you just can’t do, so I tried to eat as much as I could. I knew I had to face him like a man. His reaction shocked me. He didn’t yell or give me licks, none of that. After lunch was over, he talked to me. I didn’t remember exactly what he said; I just remember how much I loved and respected that man.
I’m 43 now and amazed how fast the time has gone by. I have raised three children myself, so now I can actually appreciate what Dr. Underwood did for us. As a parent, I understand now it’s much easier to turn your back, pretend you didn’t see it or be “easy”. I also understand now that “easy”don’t build character and “easy” don’t produce Great Men. What Dr. Underwood did took an amazing amount of effort. I hate to think how different I would be without that man.
If you ever read this, Mr. Underwood, I want to say how much your actions have meant to me over the years, thank you. You are an amazing man, and I wonder how many lives you have changed. After leaving Oneida, I haven’t always been someone that I’d be proud to know. However, the examples I had from the amazing people at OBI, like Mr Underwood and others, stayed with me. When I became ready to become the person God intended for me to be, the foundation was there. I realize now what is really important in this life and that serving God comes first. Many people I’ve met say this but the Underwoods live it. When that sad day comes for Mr. Underwood that we are all promised at birth and Mr. Underwood stands before his creator, I’m sure he will hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servent, well done.” Thank you all. Submitted by Greg “Florida” Miller, OBI Class Of 1991
The following was submitted Lyn Claybrook (left/seated in class photo), OBI Class of 1949, who resides in Glocester, Virginia and gives regularly to the work of Oneida Baptist Institute. He last visited campus for Homecoming 2009, his 60th class reunion. When he saw the request for “Come to the Table” stories in a recent issue of the Oneida Mountaineer, he telephoned with his memory of what proved to be a life-altering moment in an OBI dining hall. The backdrop of his story is just as interesting as the story itself.
Mr. Claybrook moved to Oneida with his family in 1948, and he began his senior year at OBI. His father, Rev. Lyn Claybrook, had been called to pastor the Oneida Baptist Church, and the family had moved from Lewisburg, Tennessee to minister in the hills of southeastern Kentucky. Mr. Claybrook recounted, “My father felt the call to go to Oneida. He told [us] how he agonized over that decision and prayed to the Lord, ‘If you want me to go this this mountain community, make this quarter come up heads.’ Then he prayed, ‘Lord, make it two out of three! He went up there with a lot of faith in the Lord and the assistance of the Kentucky Baptist [association].”
The Claybrooks arrived just in time to be involved in the final stages of opening and dedicating the Oneida Baptist Church’s first building. Founded by some of the same people who shook hands to build a school that would end feuding by providing Christian education for their children, the church had met for 48 years on the Oneida Institute campus. Rev. Claybrook wrote in the August 1948 issue of the Oneida Mountaineer, that the “...beautiful new meeting house will soon be ready to occupy, thanks to the vision of her people, their liberality and the substantial help of Kentucky Baptists.” The following spring, Rev. Claybrook reported that over 600 people attended the March, 1949 Formal Opening ceremony, and just like most Baptist churches, “... so abundant was the spread that enough was left to have fed the whole group again.” Over $7,000, half of the church’s “indebtedness,” was collected that day. (Oneida Mountaineer May, 1949)
After graduating from Oneida in 1949, Lyn Claybrook returned to Tennessee and worked with his uncles on the family farm before serving for two years active duty in the Army Medical Service Corps. He then attended Cumberland Junior College before transferring to Berea College to finish his degree in agriculture. At home in Oneida during his Christmas break of his senior year, the Claybrooks were invited to a special Sunday dinner in the OBI dining hall. The family sat at a table with Mr. Irving Reynolds, the founder and chairman of the Franklin Ice Cream Company. As they conversed, Mr. Reynolds inquired about Claybrook’s education and future plans and invited him to visit him in Toledo. “I did, and he offered me a job in Cleveland,” Claybrook stated. He returned to Kentucky where he graduated from Berea on January 29, 1954, got married on January 30, 1954, and after a two-week honeymoon, moved to Cleveland to begin working as the supervisor of seven retail ice cream stores. Some years later, he took a similar job with another company in Richmond, Virginia. This led to the opportunity to become the Agricultural Representative for the Virginia Electric and Power Company, where he worked for 25 years. “It all started with a Come to the Table invitation at OBI,” Claybrook concluded. Submitted by Lyn Claybrook, OBI Class of 1949
We first met Dr. Underwood and Kay in October 2003. We had traveled from Decatur, Alabama to meet with Dr. Underwood regarding a possible mission trip for our church, Southside Baptist located in Decatur. We arrived at night and stayed in one of the guest houses. We met Kay the following morning for breakfast and she told us that Dr. Underwood always would stand at the Exit Door of the Dining Hall and check to see if students had cleaned their plates. His rule was that we do not waste food. If you take food on your tray, then you are expected to clean your tray. Well was I in for a shock. When I went through the serving line I took a little bit of everything since it looked so good. My eyes were larger than my stomach and I could not eat everything on my tray. Kay looked at me and said we don’t waste food at Oneida. I will forgive you this time but don’t ever let it happened again – never. This was my first experience meeting Kay and Dr. Underwood and I will never forget it. We established a very good relationship with Oneida and made a total of 12 missions trip to Oneida from Southside Baptist Church, Decatur, Alabama. Submitted by Berry Terry
Feel free to spread the word! Any stories you would like to share (and photos) may be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Your stories may include your name or remain anonymous. Come to the table and share your story!