Clifton Key Retires from Olney Community Library Board after 38 years
Can you imagine the impact you can have on a community after serving 38 years on the local library’s board of directors? Clifton Key has made an impact after spending nearly a third of his life as the president of the Olney Community Library board. And now he has decided to retire.
Many people refer to Key as the town historian; He responds to that title modestly, stating, “Well, I have got ears, and I have got eyes, and they’ve always been active. And they’re connected to something.”
Key was born to George A. Key, and Margurite Campbell Key on a farm outside Megargel, Texas. “I’m the youngest of four boys. Two older boys were born and lived in houses that did not have plumbing, electricity, and all that. But my brother—just older than me—and I were born in the house in Megargel. Olney was my mother’s hometown.” Key said he was baptized at the old Presbyterian Church located on Main Street, and he is married to JoAn Key.
By becoming the board president in July 1981, Key was afforded an opportunity to influence change through the educational programs offered through the library, which was modeled after the library in Wichita Falls.
“Everything Wichita Falls did, Olney tried to emulate,” said Key. “We had all this input from North Texas State, and we really couldn’t have done it without them. I think universities are always concerned about the environment they are in. And I think they saw this as an opportunity to promote their university. Of course, the school system had a lot to do with establishing the library. If the school had not gone along with it, we wouldn’t have made it.”
Key said one of the accomplishments that he is most proud of is the book donation program, which was started by the Rotary Club and in later years was picked up by First United Methodist Church and the Russell Altmillers.
“We emphasize that the children get a book a year, which means something to a child. Some children would never receive a book unless we give them a free one. This inspires the children to read it.”
Key’s advice to the next board president is to be prepared to raise money. “When we talk about raising money, I don’t mean anything preposterous. We can do things in steps over here.”
The library is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, and all donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. They are in the process of raising money to complete the bathroom renovations. Donations may be brought in to or mailed to the library.
The board reorganizes every year in July and will soon be reorganized to elect a new board president. The library director Lori Cox said the board has not made any final decisions on the new president but wishes Key well.
“There are not enough words to be said about what he’s done for the library throughout the many years, and he’s very supportive of everything that I’ve done since I’ve been here, and even from way before. I grew up with Clifton, I went to school with his son, and so I have known Clifton for a long time,” Cox said.
The board and staff will celebrate Clifton Key’s retirement Sunday, June 28, at 2 p.m. The celebration will take place at the library located at 807 W. Hamilton Street in Olney.