Green River Museum honors Alma Jean Hocker
Each year the Green River Museum honors someone who has either impacted or preserved Butler County history. The 2018 Impact Award recipient was educator Alma Jean Hocker in recognition of her life and work. A special presentation by Tommy Hines, Museum Director, and reception was held in her honor on Saturday afternoon. Several of Mrs. Hocker's descendants were on hand.
Alma Jean Hocker could be what’s considered the “youngest set” of the Greatest Generation, but equally as strong, influential, and impactful. She was born on December 7, 1930, growing up in Butler County during the Great Depression, starting her Freshman Year at Morgantown High School in 1944, the height of WWII.
She married Hugh Render Hocker in July 1949, and they had four children: Mona Hocker Jones, Hugh Render Hocker Jr., Anna Laura Hocker, and Ruth Hocker Spalding. They also have nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Alma Jean began teaching English at BCHS in 1959 and spent her career there, retiring in 1986. While she wasn’t a teacher of history, she was most definitely a historian. She had a keen interest in family genealogy and local history, an interest that only grew as time went on. Besides being active in the D.A.R. and the Butler County Historical Society, Alma Jean began in the 1990s, to seriously collect and preserve the history of our county.
It all began in the late 80s. Between 1986 and 1988 Alma Jean and Hugh Hocker began to travel the backroads of Butler County photographing historic homes and buildings. This vital documentary project was eventually published on disc in 2005 by the Butler County Chapter of the NSDAR.
In 1992 she wrote “The Butler County Saga,” a pageant of local history, performed by a massive cast at the amphitheater in the park at Morgantown.
During the late 1990s, she helped compile the history on the one-room schools in Butler County, producing several volumes of great documentary material.
In 2001, Alma Jean Hocker was recognized by the Butler County Chapter of the Daughter of the American Revolution with its Community Service Awards—for recording and preserving Butler County History through articles, photography, and dramatic presentation.
In 2002, the second volume of “Butler County, Kentucky Histories and Families” was published. Butler County NSDAR, The History of the County Section, penned by Alma Jean.
In 2006, Alma Jean’s monumental project to add a second volume to the History of FBC was completed. She worked for many months recruiting volunteers to write chapters and to collect photographs, eventually including the years 1986-2000.
In 2010, Alma Jean wrote an expanded version of the Butler County Saga and the production was performed at the High School Auditorium over several nights. This was yet another monitor project, that she was bound and determined to see to fulfilled, this time commemorating the county’s 200th birthday.
Alma Jean Render Hocker is proof that you don’t need a history degree or be a history teacher to be a historian. She had a deep love for this county, the people, and was proud of the heritage of this place.
Alma Jean passed away on April 5, 2016 but leaves a body of work that historians will use for years to come. She also leaves a legacy of humor, love, and kindness to which any who knew her will attest. She was called one of Butler County’s Finest.