The Bale Family has a long history with WKU. James Kenneth “Ken” Bale came to WKU after serving in the U.S. Merchant Marines in World War II. At WKU, Ken played basketball for Coach Diddle and met his wife, Nell “Sissy” Wathan O’Bryan. He and Nell married in 1947 before moving to Horse Cave, Kentucky to start their family. He was a member of WKU President’s Club and WKU Foundation’s board. He worked as a prolific businessman in Southcentral Kentucky, including as owner and CEO of South Central Bank in Barren, Daviess, Hardin, Warren, Metcalf, Monroe, and Simpson County.
Among Ken and Nell’s children, their daughter Ruthie O’Bryan Bale also spent time on the Hill. She attended WKU from 1968-1972, and graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Physical Education. During her time as a student, she was also a member of Chi Omega. After graduation, Ruthie got her professional start in the hotel industry as an employee of Ramada Inn. She was also the general manager of Greenwood Executive before becoming chairman of Bale of Kentucky and its related affiliates and South Central Bancshares of Kentucky and South Central Bank in Glasgow, Bowling Green, Hardin County and Daviess County.
To give back to the university, Ruthie established the Bale Family Athletic Scholarship Fund in 1995. The fund serves to assist deserving WKU students who are members of the women’s basketball team. Through this fund, the Bale family’s legacy on the Hill continues in perpetuity.