Merritt, Barbara Mae Croney(born: 1952 - died: 1999)
In 1970, Barbara Mae Croney Merritt was the first female to receive an athletic scholarship at Kentucky State University [source: "Ex-track champ is dead at 41," Kentucky New Era, 05/02/1994, p.2A (online at Google News)]. Croney was a track star from Hopkinsville, KY, the daughter of John W. and Dorothy K. Spurline Croney, one of 12 children.
In 1969, Barbara M. Croney competed in the National AAU Track and Field Championships in San Diego, CA [source: "Looking back: 25 years ago," Kentucky New Era, 08/20/1994, p.4A (online at Google News)]. She helped lead her team to the state championship in 1969 and 1970. Croney ran the 220 yard dash and was the anchor for both the 440 and the 880 relay. In prior years, she won the 220 in the 1968 state meet, and the standing broad jump in the 1967 state meet. She won the 100 yard dash in the Los Angeles Junior Olympics in 1967.
After her track career, Barbara M. Croney Merritt was employed at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), having worked in several departments before becoming an administrative assistant to the executive vice president and provost. Barbara Mae Croney Merritt died of natural causes in the Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania, her body was brought back to Hopkinsville with services taking place at the Gamble Funeral Home and burial at the Cave Spring Cemetery (grave site via Find A Grave). She was the wife of Earl F. Merritt.
The Barbara M. Merritt Memorial Scholarship Fund in Liberal Arts was established at Penn State in her honor. In 2004, Barbara M. Croney (posthumously) was among the 16 inductees to the newly formed Heritage Bank Christian County High School Athletic Hall of Fame [source: J. Wilson, "CCHS honors 16 former athletes, coaches," Kentucky New Era, 12/10/2004, Section B, p.B3 (online at Google News)].
For more about Barbara M. Croney's track career see "Barbara Croney sets mark," Kentucky New Era, 05/13/1967, p.6, picture included (online at Google News); "What happened to Barbara?," Kentucky New Era, 05/22/1967, p12 (online at Google News); "County girls go to enter Junior Olympic finals," Kentucky New Era, 08/04/1967, p.10 (online at Google News); "Christian County's girls capture region track meet," Kentucky New Era, 05/09/1970, p.8; and many other articles in the Kentucky New Era newspaper. Barbara Croney is mentioned on p.13 of the Amateur Athlete, v.40., 1969. See caption and photo of Barbara Croney in article by C. Hess, "Kudos to secretaries this week," The Daily Collegian, 04/25/1979, p.15.