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Hometown Proud: Barbara Lohr

Hometown Proud features a person each week that helps make the community better.

Barbara Lohr has been an active part of the community since she arrived in 1963. She taught for 29 years at the Cape Girardeau Vocational School (now the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center,) and spent
many years in city government.

Lohr was on the planning and zoning commission for over a decade and was a city alderman for five years before she became the first female mayor of Jackson in 2007. She stayed in that role for eight years until she lost to current mayor Dwain Hahs, who Lohr says is “doing a fantastic job.”

She is currently the president of the Jackson Noon Optimist Club and the tourism chair of the Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization.

How did you start volunteering in Jackson?

Well, my husband and I came here after he got out of the Marine Corps in 1963. It was the 63-64 school year, and he was hired as a teacher/coach here. And almost immediately, I was called by the Girl Scouts because they had an emergency situation.

There was a senior Girl Scout troop, senior-level Girl Scouts who were also seniors in high school, and they were going to have to disband their troop for lack of a leader.

So they asked if I would help with that just for a year because after that the troop would have disbanded anyway. I said “sure,” so I did that, and then became neighborhood chairman for the entire Girl Scouts organization in this area.

While I was there, along with some other ladies, we established the first Girl Scout day camp here in Jackson along the banks of Hubble Creek, and then we branched out and went to different, much better camp sites.

I stayed with the Girl Scouts because, after so many years, I had a daughter who was ready to be a Brownie. That was my first opportunity to be of service to Jackson, and I’ve just been doing things ever since.

What are some of the organizations you’re currently involved with in Jackson?
After I was fully retired, I started volunteering. I always said that I would help with those things when the time became available, and I did. I help with the Jackson Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry, I volunteer there on Mondays. I volunteer at my church.

I’ve been very active in the Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization; I’m on their board. And I’ve helped get tourism really started, so we can share this fantastic place we’ve got here with people from other towns. We have bus tours through uptown Jackson pretty regularly.

What are you most proud of here in Jackson?
The atmosphere that we have here. Jackson is a very progressive town, but we are unique in the fact that we have managed to maintain that small town atmosphere.

We’re very friendly and very welcoming when these folks from the bus tours come, and they are from everywhere. We’ve had people from Australia, Denmark and all over the United States. And they always comment on how welcoming everybody is in this area.


What is something you
think most people don’t know about you?

I’m pretty much well known around here. Probably a lot of folks see me all the time at football games, but I have not missed a home football game in over 50 years. I really support our team.

My husband first came here as a football and wrestling coach. As a matter of fact, he was the first official wrestling coach for the city of Jackson. I just thoroughly enjoy it. When fall is in the air and football is coming, I get invigorated.

And then probably folks don’t know I was an athlete in high school. I played on a softball team and a basketball team. This was down in Sikeston and they actually did not have organized girl’s sports. But softball is very popular in this area, so I played in a girl’s softball league outside of high school. I was a catcher, hence the knuckles on my hands.

And I played basketball. I was considered a really good player, but I never shot a basket or scored. That’s because I was a defensive player. When I played, it was so long ago that there were six on a team; there’s only five now, and three were on one side of the court playing offence, and three were on the other side playing defense.

So the job was if the ball was on your side of the court and you were defense, you had to get it back and get it to your offense so they could score. It was very, very different, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

What aspect do you find most rewarding in the work you do?

The service to my community. I raised my three children here, and when I say “I raised them,” I sure had a lot of help. I have two boys and a girl, and the two boys were involved in Boy Scouts and they were very active in school.

All three of them were athletes, and I appreciate what their teachers and their coaches did for them. So I just feel like we really should give back something to our communities.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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