From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Childress, Joanna Kimble Offutt

(born: 1914  -  died: 2002) 

Joanna Kimble Offutt Childress was born in Lexington Kentucky on February 1, 1914. She spent most of her life at the same residence, 439 Georgetown Street. Her father was Reverend E.T. Offutt who preached at Pleasant Green Baptist Church. She was named after her mother, also Joanna Kimble Offutt. Joanna began learning music in elementary school. She attended college at Kentucky State University, majoring in English, with a minor in music. She taught thousands of students to read music, sing, and play instruments. She taught and supervised music education programs at all the black schools in Lexington: Constitution, Russell, Booker T. Washington and Carver elementary schools, and Dunbar junior and senior high school. She was greatly noted for teaching musical theory earlier on to her younger students. She became one of the first black teachers in Lexington to teach at an integrated school.

After the schools were integrated, Joanna K. Offutt Childress taught at Ashland Elementary and Lexington Junior High. She retired in 1976. Meanwhile, she played the piano and organ at her church until 1978. She sang with the World Alliance Choirs in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1975.  She was the recipient of the 1991 Community Achiever Award at the YMCA Black Achievers Award Banquet. She held the position of Music Department Chairwoman at Pleasant Green Baptist Church. She also played the piano in nursing homes throughout the community. In her later years, she performed at The Helping Hand, a day-care program for people with nontreatable memory losses.

Joanna K. Offutt Childress was the wife of Kentucky statesman, William Hobbs Childress. She died September 22, 2002, and is buried in Nicholasville, KY. 

For more see University of Kentucky Archives, Alumni/Student Biographical File Box 47, Joanna Offutt Childress; "Joanna Childress, music teacher, dies - Lexington pianist had been honored for education work," Lexington Herald-Leader, Obituaries, p.B5; D. Burdette, "Longtime resident happy at home on Georgetown Street," Lexington Herald-Leader, 03/04/1996, p.B1; and C. Holman, "Joanna Childress receives honor playing piano has led her to many things," Lexington Herald-Leader, 04/03/1991, Community section, p.2.

This entry was written and submitted by Nathan Moore.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Historic Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church (Lexington, KY)
NKAA Entry: Childress, William Haydon, Jr.
NKAA Source: Lexington herald-leader (newspaper)

Related Entries Citing this Entry


Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Childress, Joanna Kimble Offutt,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 18, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-09-14 21:35:36