If you have attended an event at Indiana University Southeast’s Ogle Center within the past 22 years, there is a good chance you’ve had the pleasure of encountering an enthusiastic and approachable couple in black and white blazers, Hugh and Patty Cress. Since the opening of the Ogle Center on March 19, 1996, the Cresses have been generous donors and long-time volunteers in the lobby area. The number of tickets they have collected is easily matched by the number of friends they have made over the years; at least a third of the patrons are welcomed by name.
Today, the lobby will be permanently known as the “Hugh and Patty Cress Lobby.”
“We both enjoyed getting started on the ground floor with The Ogle Center,” said Patty Cress. “We also enjoyed getting to meet new people and introducing the Southern Indiana community to the arts.”
Both Hugh and Patty are 1970 graduates of Indiana University, Hugh earning his BS in Education and Patty earning her BA in History, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. They both went on to earn their Masters degrees in Education at Indiana University Southeast.
Hugh and Patty have packed much more than two lifetimes into their 48 years together. Hugh was active duty in the U.S. Navy for eight years, which included a Vietnam tour. He followed that up with 14 years in the Reserves and was a teacher and counselor with Greater Clark County Schools from 1970 to 1995. Hugh had his first diagnosis of cancer in 1981, then a more serious diagnosis in 1984 which led to the removal of a significant part of his tongue. Hugh was a fighter. While he was originally given only a 5 percent one year survival rate, he turned down the option of permanent disability retirement to continue his career as a teacher and counselor.
Patty went on to have a highly successful 26-year career in human resources with the Census Bureau, achieving the Department of Commerce Bronze Medal. And she was named “volunteer of the year” with The Ogle Center in their first season. Patty was also active in her church, Psi Iota Psi, a philanthropic sorority as well as the National Association of Retired Federal Employees where she served as president.
In addition to The Ogle Center, their volunteer activities include long-term stints with Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Kentucky Center for the Arts, Charlestown/Clark County Library Board, and the Falls of the Ohio.
Not only did Hugh and Patty serve on several committees for LifeSpan Resources’ Senior Games, they were also fierce competitors. The couple stood out in the dance category, especially showcasing their talent when performing the Charleston, Jitterbug, and Twist. Hugh’s granny shot couldn’t be beat in basketball — he earned a medal almost every year with this signature move.
“World Travelers” is another fitting title for these two, with destinations such as Europe, USSR, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji just to name a few. Excursions aboard camels, elephants, and one wild ostrich were modes of transportation in Egypt, Thailand, and South Africa! And if an animal adventure wasn’t part of the itinerary, skimming across the surface of a body of water in a hydrofoil might have been.
Hugh lost his battle to cancer in February of this year, outliving his doctor’s prognosis by over 33 years. He was looking forward to attending the lobby naming event and sharing it with Patty and his many friends.
“I felt like he would be here for the event,” said Patty. “But, it will be a great evening with friends and family. Hugh would have enjoyed it.”