Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sesquicentennial Stories: The Promise of UK #92

Lucille was born August 20, 1909 in Morehead, Kentucky.  The daughter of Rosetta Proctor Caudill and Daniel Boone Caudill, she was one of five children: sisters, Dr. Claire Louise Caudill (a pioneering physician and founder of Morehead's St. Claire Hospital) and Patricia Caudill Eubank; and brothers, Boone Proctor Caudill and Dr. Charles Milton Caudill). Daniel Boone Caudill was a lawyer and a banker as well as a popular circuit judge of the 21st District.

Lucille attended school in Morehead and showed an early interest in music and drama.  By the time she was 10, Lucille was studying at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music during the summers.  Later Lucille graduated from Hamilton College, a girls’ finishing school in Lexington, Kentucky.  In the 1920s she attended eleven colleges, among them were Transylvania College, the University of Kentucky, and Morehead College (now Morehead State University). Lucille studied voice for many years in Cincinnati, at Stetson College in Florida, at The Ohio State University, in Chicago, at Columbia University and finally the Juilliard School of Music in New York City.   In an interview with Ed Lane, she called herself a “college tramp.”  Lucille’s bachelor’s degree is from OSU. 

Lucille sang in the church, she sang operas, and at the World’s Fair.  She was in theater productions, recitals, and with a radio orchestra.  Living in New York City finally disgruntled Lucille and at this point she had met W. Paul Little at a cotillion in Mount Sterling, Kentucky in the 1930s.
Guignol cast prepares for presentation of first play, Medea, in new quarters in University of Kentucky (UK) Fine Arts Building.  Lucille Little being fitted by Miss Freeman.  1950
 In 1937, she and W. Paul Little were married and they made Lexington their home.  Paul Little was a successful businessman in tobacco, horses, and real estate.  While he was making money, Lucille was focused on the arts.  She threw herself into serving on arts and cultural boards and was involved in many area activities.  Among these various interests, Lucille was an actress at the University of Kentucky’s Guignol Theater. 

Little in Medea
After her husband’s death in 1990, Lucille became heir to a large fortune and she focused her attention on planning on how to enrich the arts and education community.  Her involvement in the cultural life of central Kentucky led to the establishment of several entities.  Little founded and led 10 organizations in the area of the arts, theater, Philharmonic Orchestra and children’s theater.  In 1999, the W. Paul and Lucille Caudill Little Foundation was the 9th-ranked foundation in Kentucky by total dollars donated.  Numerous Kentucky entities have benefited from her generous contributions.

UK Radio Photographic Collection, Lucille Little in audience

Even larger projects include a $1 million donation to the University of Kentucky in the 1990’s to establish a combined fine arts library.  Her gift was matched by William T. Young and the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s Research Challenge Initiative, resulting in the Lucille Caudill Little Fine Arts Library and the Learning Center Fund.  The Lucille Caudill Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center opened Oct. 2, 2000, combining the collections and services of the former Edward Rannells Art Library and the Adelle G. Dailey Music Library and Media Center, a collaboration between the University Libraries and the College of Fine Arts, School of Music.  The Little Library is also the home of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music.
John Tuska, Lucille Caudill Little, Governor Brereton Jones and others, at the Governor's Awards, 1994
 Little received honorary doctorate degrees from Transylvania University, Georgetown College, the University of Kentucky and Morehead State University.  She was awarded the Lexington Optimist Club Cup.  Her portrait was installed in the Kentucky capitol in the Kentucky Commission on Women’s Kentucky Women Remembered ( exhibit in March 2002.

Lucille Caudill Little , who contributed millions of dollars to central and eastern Kentucky arts and educational institutions, died in October at her home in Lexington. She was 93.

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