By France Griggs Sloat
Bachelor of Arts in English 1958; Master of Education in counseling, 1969
Retired principal and hearing officer, Cincinnati Public Schools
Running Game | Kilgore was one of the first African-American students to enter Xavier. He arrived in 1954 on a football scholarship and played all four years as a running back.
Racial Tensions | “For the most part, the coaches took care of that. When we played in Kentucky, Coach would say he wanted everyone to go to the lobby together, and we knew what was happening. Denny Davis and I were the first African Americans to play on the University of Kentucky football field.”
My Alma Mater | With his English degree and teacher’s certification, Kilgore returned to his high school, St. Martin de Porres, to teach. He later moved to St. Xavier High School for 10 years before transferring to Crest Hills Middle School where he was a counselor and then principal. He wrapped up his teaching career as a hearing officer for the district before retiring in 1990.
Back To Work | Not one to stay idle long, Kilgore tapped into his experience as both counselor and hearing officer, returning to St. Xavier as a minority consultant and to two public school districts as a hearing officer. At St. Xavier, he helps minority students of all races adjust to the academic expectations and social environments that may be unfamiliar to them. As a hearing officer, he hears cases of students recommended for expulsion by their superintendents. In both positions, he works at being a strong male role model for youth.
Clothes Horse | Kilgore gives his wife all the credit. He is a snappy dresser. The reason? “When I started teaching, we had to wear a coat and tie. You get used to this. They are my work clothes, and I think it’s a symbol of professionalism and models for men how a professional should look. I think those kids really, really respect that.”
Dream On | He inspires kids by telling them to think about things they want. “I tell them to set some goals. You have to dream, and once you start dreaming, the dream will change attitudes. And when attitudes change, the behavior will change for the better. My first thing is to brainwash them, tell them how smart they are. Their potential has to be developed and they have to recognize that. Sometimes we put kids down so much they become dumb.”
Fast Cars | One goal he offers them is owning a fancy car. It may be materialistic, but it can get them moving in the right direction. “I ask them, how are they going to get that? If they can get it, then everything else is in place. In our society, it is about power and money, but it’s also about keeping your ethics in place. You’ve got to be honest with yourself and God and keep your ethics.”
The Gamut | Between his work at St. Xavier and his days as a hearing officer, Kilgore sees the best and the worst in kids’ behavior. He tries to help them all. “You have to be able to read people, kids, the whole gamut. I remember one kid said to me, ‘I’m going to go to college.’ And next time I saw him, he was in college.”