Owensboro resident Aloma Dew was named the 2022 recipient of the Liberty Bell Award, an honor bestowed by the Daviess County Bar Association.
Jeanie Owen Miller, a retired administrative law judge, said the bar association is happy that the reinstatement of the award was given to Dew.
“We have been giving this award for decades, but with COVID, it was not given for several years,” Miller said. “... Dew has worked all of her adult life to educate the community about the many women and minorities that have dedicated their lives to ensuring equal rights under the law.”
Dew is a retired lecturer and history teacher at Kentucky Wesleyan College and has spent time teaching the democratic system of government.
She served as co-chair of the Daviess County Bicentennial Committee, has co-authored books on life in Owensboro and Daviess County and has received numerous awards for her educational efforts.
“While on the bicentennial committee, we got a plaque for the Black soldiers who were joined up here in Owensboro,” she said. “That was a great accomplishment.”
That led to her and her husband being asked by the city to create historical markers for Smothers Park, English Park and several at Kendall-Perkins Park.
“We were really trying to be inclusive and get everybody’s history, but there’s still a whole lot to be told,” she said.
Dew said she is more active in the American Association of University Women (AAUW) today and sits on the board as the club’s historian for the Owensboro chapter.
“I’ve worked a lot on various projects that we’ve had, with the latest one being tours of people buried at Elmwood Cemetery,” she said.
Dew worked on the brochure and map for grave sites at Elmwood Cemetery of women who worked for equal rights.
While at KWC, Dew created a class centered around American women’s history.
“Right now I’m in the process of writing a book about an important Kentucky suffragist named Josephine Henry,” she said.”I’ve written about women in the Kentucky Encyclopedia. The environment and women are two of my main efforts.”
In 2020, she was instrumental in efforts to place a memorial on the Daviess County courthouse lawn commemorating the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.
“The AAUW worked very hard to get a memorial for Louise Gasser Kirtley,” Dew said. “She was the first woman attorney in Daviess County, she was the first woman state representative from here. She was a whole list of firsts.”
Dew said she received the award during a time where she felt like the work she was doing in and for the community didn’t matter to anyone.
“It cheered me up after my thoughts of feeling that I have wasted my life because nothing was happening,” she said. “I’m very humbled, because I know there are a whole lot more people out there who have done a whole lot more than I have.”
Dew’s husband, Lee, was a previous recipient of the award, as was her mentor, Clara Oldham, who received the award in 1997.
“It’s reaffirming, and I feel like it’s given me new energy,” she said. “I felt like I hadn’t been doing enough, so now I have to get more serious. I feel honored.”