Lucille Caudill Little

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Mary Lucille Caudill Little
BornAugust 8, 1909
DiedOctober 8, 2002
Spouse(s)W. Paul Little
Parent(s)Rosetta Proctor and Daniel Boone Caudill

Lucille Caudill Little (August 20, 1909 – October 8, 2002), was an American patron of the arts and philanthropist who served as president of the W. Paul and Lucille Caudill Little Foundation in Lexington, Kentucky.


Mary Lucille Caudill was born in 1909 in Morehead, the county seat of Rowan County, Kentucky. She was one of five children (sisters Dr. Claire Louise Caudill[1] and Patricia Caudill Eubank; and, brothers Boone Proctor Caudill and Dr. Charles Milton Caudill) of Rosetta Proctor and Judge Daniel Boone Caudill. Her father was a lawyer and a banker as well as a popular circuit judge of the Twenty-First District.[2]

She attended elementary and high school in Morehead and graduated from Hamilton College, a girls finishing school in Lexington, Kentucky. In the 1920s she attended eleven colleges, including Transylvania College, the University of Kentucky, Morehead College (now Morehead State University), and studied voice at Stetson College in Florida. She was a member of Pi Beta Phi, having been initiated into the chapter at the Ohio State University.[3] In 1932 she earned a bachelor's degree in voice from Ohio State University, took graduate courses at Columbia University and then at Juilliard School of Music (where she earned a scholarship). She continued her studies in New York with vocal scientist Dr. Douglas Stanley,[4] with Lily Pons as accompanist. After performing in New York, she served on the faculty of Morehead State Teachers College where she taught speech and started up the department of theatre. Later, she served as a volunteer teacher at a P-12 private school in Lexington, Sayre School.[5]

She married W. Paul Little, a businessman and thoroughbred breeder, in 1937 at the age of 28 and they made Lexington, in the heart of the Bluegrass state, their home. Paul Little was a successful thoroughbred breeder and owner, having bred Wild Again and 28 other stakes winners.[6]

In 1979 she was kidnapped by a young man whose father worked at Paul Little's tobacco warehouse in Lexington, Kentucky. She went to the bank to collect her own ransom of $85,000 and told the police. They followed and, while she was on the floor in the backseat of her own car, exchanged fire with the kidnapper.

After her husband's death in 1990, Mrs. Little was the sole heir to a large fortune. In 1999, the W. Paul & Lucille Caudill Little Foundation was the 9th-ranked foundation in Kentucky by total dollars donated.[7]


Because of her training in the arts, Little focused the Paul & Lucille Caudill Little Foundation in the areas of the arts and education. The purpose of the foundation is to develop creativity mainly through the fine arts. The Foundation was originally handled by the Bank of the Bluegrass and Trust Company, and today by the Blue Grass Community Foundation. Gifts are awarded quarterly to nonprofit organizations that have been in existence for at least three years. The organizations must serve in and around Central and Eastern Kentucky, specifically Fayette, Rowan or Elliott County. Grants tend to range in amount from $5,000 to $1 million. In May 2011, however, the Foundation announced the largest awards ever presented: $2.5 million each for the Lexington Children's Theatre (Shooting Star Youtheatre outreach to Rowan and Elliott Counties) and for Morehead State University's scholarships for students primarily from Rowan or Elliott County who pursue a bachelor of arts degree in art, music or theatre.[8]

Her involvement in the cultural life of central Kentucky led to the establishment of several entities. She founded and led the following:

Her leadership was invaluable to the following organizations:

She also enjoyed singing as the soprano soloist at Central Christian Church in Lexington.

Numerous Kentucky entities have benefited from her generous contributions, including the Lexington Ballet, the Opera Guild of Central Kentucky, the Headley-Whitney Museum, the Central Kentucky Women's Club, Hospice of the Bluegrass, the Salvation Army, United Campus Ministries, Lexington Theological Seminary, Midway College, First Christian Church, St. Clair Medical Center in Morehead, the Lexington Arts and Cultural Council, Lexington Musical Theatre and the Actors Guild of Lexington. The Foundation established a permanent endowment at Kentucky Educational Television to integrate the performing arts into Kentucky's elementary education.

Even larger projects include a $1-million donation to the University of Kentucky in the 1990s to establish a combined fine arts library. Her gift was matched by Mr. William T. Young and the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education's Research Challenge Initiative, resulting in the Lucille Caudill Little Fine Arts Library and the Learning Center Fund.[9] The Little Library is the home of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music.

The Lucille C. Little Theater at Transylvania University, where she was a member of the class of 1928. Another gift of $1 million to the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation will endow the International Museum of the Horse with the W. Paul Little Cultural and Learning Center. She has endowed the Lillian H. Press Distinguished Speakers Series at Centre College, and recently gave $100,000 to the Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership.

Mrs. Little conceived the horse-themed pendulum clock which was installed in Lexington's central branch of the public library.

When asked why she chose to give her donations to art organizations, she replied:

I wish people could feel the power of the arts. That the arts can be in their living. It has been such a power in my life and has led me into such beautiful pathways, that I would like everybody to have the experience.[7]


Little received honorary doctorate degrees from Transylvania University, Georgetown College, the University of Kentucky, and Morehead State University. She was awarded the Lexington Optimist Club Cup. Her portrait was installed in the Kentucky capitol in the Kentucky Commission on Women's Kentucky Women Remembered exhibit in March 2002.[10]


Lane, Ed (October 2001). "Lucille Caudill: 'I Have Called Myself a College Tramp'". One-on-One. The Alexander Stewart Family of Kentucky. Retrieved 2011-05-30.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Louise Caudill". Alexander Stewart Family of Kentucky. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  2. ^ "1933 Rowan County Election Dispute 1933". Alexander Stewart Family of Kentucky. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  3. ^ Directory of Pi Beta Phi, 1951, p. 98. Her sister Dr. C. Louise Caudill was also a member of the Ohio Beta (Ohio State University) Chapter of Pi Beta Phi.
  4. ^ "Douglas Stanley & Nelson Eddy vocal technique demonstration". YouTube. 2009-09-01. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  5. ^ "Lucile Caudill Little". Kentucky Educational Television. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  6. ^ Goode, Kristin Ingwell (2002-10-09). "Lexington Philanthropist, Wife of Breeder Paul Little, Dead at 93". The Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  7. ^ a b Lane, Ed (October 2001). "Lucille Caudill: 'I Have Called Myself a College Tramp'". One-on-One. The Alexander Stewart Family of Kentucky. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  8. ^ "Little Foundation bestows $2.5M apiece to endow Morehead State, Lexington Children's Theater to promote drama in Rowan, Elliott counties". The Lane Report. Lane Communications Group. 2011-05-25. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  9. ^ <ab_id=611 "About the Lucille Little Library". University of Kentucky. 2010-03-03. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  10. ^ "Alison Lyne Portraits of 2002 Kentucky Women Remembered Honorees for Kentucky Commission on Women". Lyne Art. Retrieved 2011-05-30.

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