Harper Gatton (1892 -1965) was that rare example of a leader whose contributions crossed many lines. He left his mark on the state’s educational system, economic development and civic institutions. He served as superintendent of Madisonville schools for 38 years, coordinated a seven-year master plan for the development of Kentucky while executive vice president of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, and spent 31 years on the board of Kiwanis International, acting as its president in 1935 the only native Kentuckian to serve in that role.
Some of Gatton’s other activities included serving as a Sunday school teacher and deacon in the Baptist church for 35 years, president of the National Beta Club, and director and president of the Kentucky Education Association. Gatton received recognition for many of his accomplishments, among them a listing in Who’s Who in America for 25 years.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College in 1912 and a master’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1925. For his service to Georgetown College – 47 years as a trustee, one of the longest tenures on the board – Gatton was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree in 1936 and an Alumni Achievement Award in 1953.
Through the Harper Gatton Leadership Medallion Program, Georgetown College students will continue the tradition of leadership and service exemplified by Harper Gatton.
- Melodie Fuller