Alumni Day draws friends and classmates to Due West
Posted on April 28, 2015
Dr. Richard G. Taylor, Jr. ’69 of Greenville, who has served on Erskine’s Alumni Board, Flying Fleet Board, and Board of Trustees, received the Alumni Distinguished Service Award as part of the Alumni Day celebration at Erskine College and Seminary April 25. Awards were presented to alumni and friends of the institution during a meeting led by Alumni Association President Steve Southwell ’80 of Rock Hill.
Southwell presented the Alumni Association’s highest award to Taylor, a retired orthopedic surgeon who is married to Janet Fellers Taylor ’68. All four of the Taylors’ children are Erskine graduates. Educated in the public schools of Rock Hill, S.C., Taylor is a graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina, where he received his degree in 1972. His gifts to Erskine College include the Taylor Hospitality Room in the Galloway Center, an endowed scholarship named for his parents, and an athletic training fund.
The Taylors are members of Greenville ARP Church, where he has served as deacon and elder. They continue to support Erskine through recruitment of students and assistance with alumni events in Greenville, and can frequently be seen at Erskine athletic events both in Due West and on the road.
“When Erskine awarded Richard Taylor an honorary doctorate, the words ‘loyalty,’ ‘accountability,’ and ‘responsibility’ were used to describe his service to Erskine,” Southwell said. “Today we add one more word—‘distinguished.’”
Taylor, who was visibly moved by the award, said he prays for Erskine every day. “Pray for the college, support the college, give if you can, and pray some more,” he said.
Erskine President Dr. Paul Kooistra offered a welcome and a few opening remarks. He said he and his wife Sandi have been at Erskine for nine months. “Erskine is an easy place to fall in love with,” he said. “What really makes the institution special is the students.”
The Sullivan Awards, given by the New York Southern Society to a man and woman who have “shown a spirit of love for and helpfulness to their fellow human beings,” were presented by Kooistra.
Sarah Wightman Brice ’71 received the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award and Dr. Douglas O. Jones ’54 (Seminary) received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.
Brice, a native of England, came to Due West when her father, Dr. Joseph Wightman, was invited to teach history. He eventually succeeded Dr. J.M. Lesesne as Erskine’s president in 1966. A member of the Choraleers and Philomeleans, Sarah Wightman chaired the Honor Council and received the Sullivan Award as an Erskine senior, which Kooistra said makes her “a double award winner.” Graduating cum laude with a history major and secondary education minor, she went on to earn a master’s degree in library science from the University of North Carolina and worked in school systems in Durham, N.C., and Greenville, S.C. She has been active in Westminster Presbyterian Church as elder, Sunday school teacher and choir member and has served on three pastor search committees and as chair of the wedding committee for 19 years. She has volunteered with the PTA, the Greenville Hospital System, and the Junior League Singers.
She and her husband James Brice are the parents of Joseph, Anna, and David. Joseph and Anna attended Erskine and married their Erskine sweethearts. Joseph Brice ’01 accepted the award on behalf of his mother, who was unable to attend.
“The relationships we have developed here at Erskine have been phenomenal,” Brice said. “My mother is disappointed that she could not be here but grateful for the honor.”
Jones received both the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Divinity degrees from Erskine Theological Seminary as well as several degrees from other institutions, including the Juris Doctorate degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law.
The Rev. Michael Jones ’91 (Seminary), executive director of Outreach North America for the ARP Synod, accepted the award on his father’s behalf. “My grandmother used to say that my dad had ‘more degrees than a thermometer,’” he said.
Dr. Douglas Jones served in the United States Air Force as a chaplain, attaining the rank of colonel; practiced law both in private practice and for the Federal Trade Commission; was chief of budgets and logistics in Washington, D.C., responsible for congressional funding of Air Force Chapel programs; was senior command chaplain in 19 primarily Islamic countries; and served as pastor at six ARP Churches through the years. His work for the ARP Church has included service as coordinator of the ARP General Synod, two terms as a member of the Erskine Board of Trustees, and a term on the Dunlap Orphanage Board of Trustees. He currently serves on the Bonclarken Board of Advisors. He is married to Ruth Sherer Jones and in addition to Michael, they are the parents of Phyllis and David.
Michael Jones said his father’s life and career have been marked by “love for Erskine, love for the ARP Church, and service to both.”
The Outstanding Young Alumni Award, for recent graduates who have begun making achievements in the workplace, church and community, was given to Dr. April Clayton ’08, who graduated summa cum laude with a double major in biology and chemistry.
Clayton went on to graduate school at Johns Hopkins University, where she received the Ph.D. degree in biological chemistry, with a focus in microbiology, immunology, and entomology. Young Professor of Chemistry Dr. Howard Thomas, who presented the award, said Clayton “was one the best students I have ever taught.” Her Ph.D. work focused on how mosquitoes defend against malaria parasites. Now a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health in the Laboratory of Viral Diseases, she is investigating the basic biology of the West Nile virus.
“Dr. Clayton has a passion to mentor the next generation of scientists and to continue research in infectious diseases,” Thomas said. Clayton was unable to attend but said she was “truly honored” to be chosen for the award.
The Erskine Service Award, presented by Vice President for Advancement David Earle, was given to William M. Frampton IV ’03, who is a television journalist with CBS46 in his hometown of Atlanta. He is the creator of Due West of Ordinary, a full-length documentary on Erskine which was shown at Erskine’s 175th anniversary celebration. His work in television began with a CBS affiliate in Indiana, where he went to work after graduating from Erskine with a degree in English. He has worked at television stations in Columbia, S.C., and Sacramento, Calif., and spent two weeks in Kabul, Afghanistan embedded with the South Carolina National Guard, later producing an Emmy-winning documentary based on that experience.
“I am honored beyond words,” Frampton said. About Due West of Ordinary, he said, “I did it because I love Erskine,” adding, “Erskine needs us to love her back.”
Inducted into the Erskine Alumni Association as an honorary alumna this year was Professor Emerita of Biology Dr. Janice H. Haldeman, a native of Tampa who has taught biology at Erskine College since 1967. Although she retired in 2002, she has continued to teach botany courses and supervises development of the Pressly Heritage Garden at Erskine. President of the Due West Branch of the American Association of University Women and a member of Trinity Episcopal Church in Abbeville, she is also a member of the South Carolina Native Plant Society. She is the recipient of a Conservation Education Award from the South Carolina Wildlife Federation as well as a Four-Year College and University Teaching Award from the National Association of Biology Teachers.
She is married to Richard Haldeman ’99 (Honorary), who retired after a long career as public relations director at Erskine. The Haldemans are the parents of two daughters, Robin Talbot ’80 and Nancy Cochran ’82, as well as a son, the late Ross Haldeman. They have two grandsons, William Talbot and Erzhan Cochran.
The Rev. Robert B. Elliott III ’89 (Sem. ’92), one of the co-chairs of the Annual Fund, said this year’s goal was raised from $1.3 million for 2013-14 to $1.6 million for 2014-15, calling this “a big year, a big challenge.” Contributions have reached $1.4 million, with the campaign ending June 30. Elliot’s sister, Lisa Elliot Dodd ’93, served with him as co-chair, and the siblings are supported by other family members in their efforts, including their mother, Suzanne Elliot ’59, and their sisters, Julie Elliot Mooneyham ’87 and Robin Elliot Shealy ’83.
Outgoing Alumni Board members recognized were Ruth Beard Boetsch ’72; Angie McNeill Grooms ’77; Herbert K. Jordan ’68; Robert B. Luebke ’61 (Sem. ’64); Darrin C. Sanders ’94; and; Richard E. Thompson, Jr. ’76.
President-elect Andy Byrd ’88 presented a slate of nominees for the Alumni Association Board of Directors; Southwell conducted the election and installed the officers. Chosen as new board members were Jason B. Dees ’94; Westley D. McAllister ’89; Eleanor Chesnut Richardson ’59; Ellison M. Smith, Jr. ’61; Sharon E. Smith ’90; and Wendy Herrmann Smith ’90. Angie McNeill Grooms ’77 was chosen as president-elect, and Ann Clarke Judd ’74 was named secretary.
The gavel was passed from Southwell to Byrd. In brief remarks as outgoing president, Southwell stressed the continuing importance of alumni participation and institutional governance, saying, “Erskine needs us now more than ever.”
Byrd expressed appreciation to Dr. and Mrs. Kooistra for their efforts on behalf of Erskine and spoke about the need for a “strong Board of Trustees with significant financial resources,” emphasizing the need to maintain relationships with alumni. He offered a closing prayer.
The Erskine Choraleers, directed by Dr. Mark Nabholz, opened the meeting with a short concert, and Erskine College senior Parker Edison gave the opening prayer.
Saturday’s activities began with the 23rd annual Red Eye Run at 8 a.m. Spencer Young finished in first place overall with a time of 21:15, with Matt Young following in second place at 22:06.
Activities Friday included a reception for the Class of 1965 at the home of Betty and John Hunt; dinners in Greenwood for the Class of 1960 and the Class of 1970; and a concert by Sinfonia and Jazz Band in Memorial Hall.
The Class of 1965 enjoyed a 50th reunion barbecue prepared by Matt Cox ’94 on Saturday afternoon, and the Class of 1990 gathered in the Taylor Hospitality Room in the Galloway Center. An alumni basketball game and a women’s alumni soccer match were also scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
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