Friday, March 1, 2013

Sesquicentennial Stories: The Promise of UK #104

Mrs. Florence Offutt Stout was the daughter of Ben and Florence Graham Offutt of Jefferson County. Since her mother died at birth, she and her three older brothers were raised by their maternal grandmother, Mrs. Hyman Graham. Upon Mrs. Graham's death, the children went to live with their aunt, Mrs. Maurice Satterwhite. Florence Offutt Stout was a descendant of the Reverend James Moore, former president of Transylvania University, and a cousin of Henry Stites Barker, former president of the University of Kentucky in whose home she spent much time.

She graduated from the Louisville Girls High School and from the New Haven Connecticut Normal School of Gymnastics where she studied under Jakob Bolin, an advocate of the Swedish system of gymnastics. In addition, she studied at Chicago University. Following her graduation from New Haven, she came to Lexington and lived with her relatives, Colonel and Mrs. James E. Pepper at "Meadowthorpe."

Florence Offutt Stout was elected the first Physical Director of Women at the University of Kentucky and began her duties January 1, 1902, in the then-new gymnasium now known as Barker Hall. On December 23, 1903, she married Judge Robert Lee Stout of Woodford County but continued her work in physical education at the University commuting from her home when even they moved to Frankfort. When they moved to Lexington, she walked to the campus from her home on Preston Avenue.

She was elected the first Dean of Women at the meeting of the Board of Trustees in June of 1908 but resigned two years later for, she said, "Believing as I do that the position of Dean of Women somewhat impairs the distinctive quality of my specialty, demonstrated by the fact that I am now dean of women, rather than as physical director of women, I hereby tender my resignation." She was particularly interested in medical gymnastics and the relation of posture and mental health to physical well-being.

She was the first Kentuckian to become a member of the National Association of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, and organized a state chapter which she served as president for several years. In 1944, she was given a special assignment and relieved of active teaching duties. Florence Stout served as director of medical gymnastics for posture defects for the Appalachian School of Nursing.

Florence Stout retired as a professor in 1946. In May of 1953, she was given the award for meritorious service in the field of health, physical education and recreation by the Kentucky Association of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. Mrs. Stout died June 12, 1958 after a long illness.

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