• 59°

OUS rotunda to #039;Bear#039; name of first director

A man known as "Bear" will have a rotunda that bears his name.

At 4 p.m. Thursday, representatives from Ohio University Southern Campus will dedicate the James J. Mains Rotunda in the Riffe Center of the university.

Mains, 85, still resides in Ironton.

"I found out a few months ago," he said. "I was happy to have that happen. I thought people had forgotten about me."

In 1956, Mains became the first director at OUSC.

"It was tough then because we only had 90 students," he said. "We recruited at high schools, but it was still hard because it seemed like their parents made more money than I did. Now, it's a great thing in this city. It seems like the only thing going here."

Bob Smith, assistant dean for development, said it was only fitting to name the rotunda after Mains.

"We had this rotunda in our new building," Smith said. "Mr. Mains has a history of helping this university."

Mains served as a director until 1959, when he received a position as the Ironton High School guidance director. Nevertheless, he remained at OUS for more than 20 years teaching physical education and physical health.

"Athletics is my first love," he said.

Also, he worked as an assistant superintendent of Ironton City Schools and was a principal at St. Joe High School before a heart attack forced him to retire.

His five children, who live in Ironton, Columbus, Birmingham, Ala., San Diego, Calif. and Houston, Texas, will also be present at the dedication, along with his wife and sister.

"My friends are all gone and it's been tough and rough," he said. "But, it's been rewarding to be associated with young people."

Mains also encouraged people who weren't mailed an invitation to come anyway.

"I taught required classes, so the amount of former students I have has really mounted in the last 30 to 40 years, Mains said. "I'm 85 years old, so there's a lot of people I know. If I had to write invitations for everyone, my God in Heaven, I'd still be writing." Amelia Pridemore/The Ironton Tribune