From the time she began coming to Luray in 1982, Gail Price said to Donald Liscomb, the man who would eventually become her husband, “this place needs a college.” As a community organizer, Price wanted to make a positive change for the county and saw accessible education as the best way to accomplish that.
Collectively, Gail and Donald, have eight children, who are all graduates of Luray High School and each pursued higher education. Price served on Page County’s Gifted and Talented Parental Advisory Committee in the late 1990s, and at this time, began having conversations with both parents and educators about high school classes, college courses, and LFCC.
“I wanted to see new ideas offered to young people so that they didn’t stay on the same path,” Price said.
Price said that night classes in Page County had been offered at Luray High School each year since the 1970’s. They were the standard college classes such as English, History, and Psychology. To complete a degree, however, people had to travel to LFCC at the Middletown Campus. Distance, time factor, and the expense of travel were cost prohibitive for many.
As a new resident, she initially taught courses at James Madison University and later worked as the Director of Corporate Communications for Wampler-Longacre. During this time (1994), she became the President of the Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce. In the interest of education, she reestablished the education committee through the Chamber. She also put together a county wide economic development survey which was sent to 8,600 households in Page County. Of those surveys, 2,300 came back. The eight- page, single spaced document asked pointed questions about educational opportunities available to residents.
“Among other things, we found out that a third of the county at the time was made up of retirees, and yet they saw a great need for access to education,” she said. “Dr. Marilyn Beck was very supportive of the findings and the need to expand college here by offering eight courses.” Increasing the amount of course offerings was a collaborative effort not only by LFCC, but also by the Page County School Board and the Luray-Page Chamber of Commerce.
Wearing her volunteer hat, Price pushed to increase course offerings. All course work was aimed to satisfy university transfer requirements. When Dr. John Sygielski became LFCC president in 2003, Price began working for the college by utilizing her years of public relations experience. With increased access, Price had the opportunity to repeatedly bend Sygielski’s ear about providing more services to residents of Page County. Price, the LFCC College Board, the Page County Board of Supervisors and the Town of Luray worked collaboratively to bring the Luray-Page County Center to fruition.
“This is truly a college that was built by the community,” Price said.” It was done by persistence and passion. Many worked together without a profit motive to make it happen.”
She provided much of the leg work from class and community-building to creating the physical building of the Center at its current location. Both the Town of Luray and the County of Page designated $120,000 each to construct, equip and offset the costs of the Center. The college purchased furniture and state-of the art-computer technology for the Center. Some of the first students were those laid off from the Wrangler Annex which houses the Luray-Page Center.
“It was wonderful to see those plant workers come and start down new pathways that they would never have imagined, “said Price. “And they were able to do so through the Federal Trade Act Program. Many are still working locally in the community and it’s phenomenal.”
The Center opened in January 2006 and Price served as Center Director through the start-up year. She continues to teach as an English adjunct at the Luray-Page County Center, and has enjoyed teaching hundreds of students throughout her career.