SHIRLEY MERRILL is a hometown girl. She was born and raised in the Grassy Creek area of Pendleton County on a farm where she and her parents and three siblings lived, raised dairy cattle, grew tobacco and corn. Hard work and education were valued by her parents, and Shirley put forth great effort to maintain an outstanding academic school record. Shirley attended Butler Elementary and High School through her Freshman year. In 1960, she became a sophomore at Pendleton County Memorial High School and graduated in 1962. Shirley holds a Bachelor Degree in Music Education from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. She earned her Master of Arts Education in 1976 and Rank One in Arts Education in 1990 from Northern Kentucky University.
Shirley was hired by Richard Gulick, Superintendent of Pendleton County Schools when the two new elementary schools were built, to be the first Elementary Music Specialist at Northern Elementary School at Butler. She held that position for twenty-seven and a half years, bringing awareness and enjoyment of music to the young people of the northern Pendleton County community. After retirement Shirley was the Fine Arts Coordinator for Pendleton County Schools for four years, taking young people to symphony concerts, dance performances and to arts museums. Shirley thoroughly enjoyed exposing the young people of Pendleton County to wonderful cultural experiences that they had no idea even existed.
Since that time Shirley has been the General Manager of Kincaid Regional Theatre Co., Inc. located in Falmouth, Kentucky. She has performed in several Kincaid Regional Theatre productions and has directed the KRT KIDS Musical Theatre Workshop and Kincaid’s Christmas productions for many years.
Shirley has twelve piano and voice students and serves as a Praise Team leader at Grassy Creek Christian Church where she directs Christmas Cantatas and other dramatic presentations.
Shirley and her husband, John, have been married for 48 years. They live on a farm south of Falmouth, raise beef cattle and enjoy the pleasures of country living. Shirley has two step children, one step granddaughter and one great granddaughter.
“I have counted it a privilege to have been able to enhance of the lives of the young people of Pendleton County and feel that anything I have done for a child has not been a waste of the precious time God has given me. The greatest purpose in my life is serving my fellowman and my Lord and Savior.”
Robert “Bobby” Bowling was raised in Pendleton County and is a 2003 graduate of Pendleton County Memorial High School. He attended Northern Elementary in Butler, KY and was part of the first student body to attend the Phillip A. Sharp Middle School after its completion.
Robert launched his first company in 2001 while attending Pendleton County High School, which he managed during his free periods, computer lab classes, and while assisting as a teacher aid. The record label he created at PCHS led to the launch of Substream magazine. An international music magazine which has been in print for over 17 years.
Robert developed a passion for video games and began making his own games from his home. After graduation, Robert moved to Los Angeles, CA to pursue this passion and became a lead of the video game development studio Infinity Ward, creators of the ‘Call of Duty’ franchise.
As Lead and Creative Strategist for Call of Duty, Robert created the ‘largest entertainment launch of all-time’ as reported by VARIETY. The Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series grossed over a billion dollars in sales in 18 days. Two years later, the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the final game in the Modern Warfare trilogy, generated a billion dollars in sales in just 13 days. Bringing the grand total of Robert’s games to 250 million copies sold and over $6 billion in global sales.
In 2009, the Call of Duty Endowment was formed to help veterans returning home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. $25 million dollars from the sales of Call of Duty games were donated to provide 45,000+ unemployed US military veterans full-time jobs with an average salary of $53k a year. Robert appeared on ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’ to promote.
This dedication to charity fueled Robert’s passion of combining games with good. He joined the board of directors for the Extra Life of Los Angeles Children’s Hospital. An annual video game playing marathon dedicated to raising money for local Children’s Hospitals nationwide. As of May 2018, Extra Life has raised over $40 million dollars for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Continuing this trend, Robert moved to San Francisco, CA to join Humble Bundle as their Vice President - Creative Director and Head of Publishing. There, Robert created and launched a new monthly subscription service for gamers called Humble Monthly which allowed users to buy their games while also choosing how much of their price went towards the charity of their choice. This initiative has raised $127 million dollars for charities all of over the world and continues to grow. Humble Bundle was acquired by the video game media company IGN in 2018.
Robert continues to develop his own video games while also managing their personal investment family-office with his wife Caroline Bowling. BowlingHaus Ventures is dedicated to supporting young creators to launch their own studios and games.
Robert’s mother, Sandra Bernice Hicks-Bowling, a GED graduate of Pendleton County Schools passed away in February 2016 and was laid to rest on the Kenton / Pendleton County line. His father still resides in his childhood home in Kentucky. Robert is the father of five children, Lauren Pompilio-Bowling, Coraline Bowling, Penelope Bowling, Dash Bowling, and Luna Bowling.