CONTACT: Carmen Ramos-Kennedy 828.423.6476

The Asheville Living Treasures' selection committee is happy to announce the selection of O. L. Sherrill, Oralene Simmons and Clark Olsen as the Fall 2015 Class of Asheville Living Treasures. They will be honored on October 25, 2015, at a recognition ceremony starting at 1:30 pm in the Manheimer Room at UNC Asheville's Reuter Center. Each Treasure will receive an honor certificate plus recognition from City of Asheville and Buncombe County representatives. Families and friends are invited to share stories and reminiscences. The event is in partnership with Osher Lifetime Learning Institute and is open to the public. Donations are welcomed to help offset expenses.

O.L. Sherrill is 85 and has lived in Black Mountain since 1962. He had an illustrious 27-year career as a teacher and administrator with Asheville City Schools where he was a father figure and mentor to hundreds of young people. He spent most of his adult life spreading the message of education and the doors that it will open. He has served in a leadership capacity on numerous boards and committees. Sherrill’s focus and commitment to improved race relations has influenced many of Asheville’s prominent leaders for over 40 years.

Oralene Simmons is 75 and grew-up in a home where the focus was on civil rights and social equality. In the 1960’s, she was a founder of ASCORE (Asheville Student Committee on Racial Equality), the student group at all-black Stephens-Lee High School that worked for racial integration in the city. Simmons is perhaps best known for her work as founder and chair of the Asheville Buncombe Martin Luther King, Jr. Association Prayer Breakfast where, for over 30 years, she has mentored youth and raised money for academic scholarships.

Clark Olsen is 82 and a Unitarian Universalist minister.  In 1965, he was gifted by his Berkeley, California, congregation to travel to Selma, Alabama, in response to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call to clergy to join him. It was there, on the evening March 09, 1965, that Olsen and two ministerial colleagues were attacked and beaten by racist thugs; Rev. James Reeb died of his injuries. Later, Olsen became a staunch advocate for civil rights and racial justice.  He joined other civil rights veterans and toured the South with church and school groups in an effort to assure that lessons learned from the period were not lost.

Finally, Asheville Living Treasures is delighted to remember and honor the Treasures previously honored. Spring 2015: Bill and Marianna Bailey, Charls Bono, Peggy Kirkpatrick. Fall 2014: Isaac Coleman, Ray Kisiah. Fall 2013: Shirley Cohen, Billy Gardenhight, Adelaide Key. Spring 2013: Thelma Washington Porter, Julia Greenlee Ray, John and Hazel Robinson. Fall 2012: John Bridges,
Joe Eblen, Mitzi Tessier. Spring 2012: Matthew Bacoate, Jr., Sara Hill, Dr. John Wilson. Fall 2011: Marie Colton, Dr. Lewis Rathbun, Rosa Walker. Spring 2011: Jessie Coleman, Hyman Dave, Mary Parker, Lucille Flack Ray.

Archived articles

Asheville Citizen Times:

The Urban News:

The Mountain Xpress:


The Laurel Of Asheville: