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Retired Chico State professor's connection to the Kennedys

By Jerry Olenyn, jolenyn@krcrtv.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:22:30 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 22 2013 10:47:40 PM CST
CHICO, Calif. -

For those who were alive in 1963, few will forget where they were when they heard the news that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

It was not an easy moment in time for retired Chico State professor Jim Gregg.

Fifty years ago Gregg was 36 years old, and teaching a political science class at U.C. Santa Barbara.
 
"A student came barging into the class about 15 minutes after it had started," recalled Gregg.  "And he said, 'President Kennedy is dead. He's been killed in Dallas.'"
 
The reaction from Gregg's 25 students was immediate.  "The women sobbed, the men cried out 'oh, no.'"
 
Professor Gregg had been splitting time at U.C.S.B and Chico State teaching political science.   He enjoyed a distinguished 35-year career before retiring in 1994.   He remembers how his students looked for answers to unanswerable questions after the events of November 22, 1963.
 
"Why would this happen? Who could have done it?," said Gregg, remembering the questions students posed to him at the time.
 
The assassination of President Kennedy helped set Gregg's course in life.  He became a campaign director in Northern California for Robert Kennedy during his 1968 presidential run.
 
"I always felt a sense of loyalty to the Kennedy Family," he said.
 
Gregg remained active in democratic politics throughout his life.  Even today in an era of constant political bickering,  Gregg remembers how the Kennedy assassination galvanized a nation.   Democrats and republicans all grieved the loss of their president.  In contrast, today Gregg said the political divide is more stark.
 
"My experience was in a period of government where you could sit down with the opposition and have dinner together and reflect on each others positions."
 
Jim Gregg also taught at Shasta and Enterprise High Schools.  Gregg is doing well at age 86.  He and his wife have been married for 58 years, and are living happily ever after in their home near Chico's Bidwell Park.