An email from Joe Pugh
A few weeks ago, it was a pleasure to receive an email from Joe Pugh, Class of 1960. Joe’s loyalty and memories of the college have been invaluable to me for years, and I always look forward to hearing from him.
Joe is very much in demand as a public speaker all around Atlanta, a talent that we can modestly claim he learned at Wofford from the late Dean Frank Logan and others. Among his recent speaking engagements have been the Baron DeKalb DAR, Decatur Chapter; the Maidens of Honor, Atlanta Chapter; the Glenn Memorial Seniors; Lady Anne’s Retreat; and the annual banquet of the Sons the American Revolution, Marietta Chapter.
Joe’s email began: “I spoke to the Buckhead Rotary Club in Atlanta last week. The club was seated at six-person round tables. As the speaker of the day, I was introduced to my five tablemates as a Wofford College grad. Major General David R. Bockel told us that he had attended Camp Greenville when he was 8 or 10 years old. His counselor was a Wofford student who convinced the future general that he should think about becoming a Terrier when he was a little older. Had he not been selected to go to West Point, the general said he definitely would have attended Wofford. Another person spoke up. ‘I was at BellSouth for 30 years with the late Walt Sessoms (Class of 1956),’ Everybody at BellSouth knew about Wofford.’ Another gentleman said he had a cousin who attended Wofford and played baseball. The final tablemate, the president of the club, smiled, looked at us and said, “I am embarrassed. I don’t have a Wofford story.”
“This was a pleasant interlude and quite different from 40 years ago when Wofford had a very low profile in Atlanta.’”
Joe’s story started me thinking that liberal arts colleges truly make their reputations one story at a time, and those stories nearly always concern an alumnus or alumna. So I went back through my saved inbox. In a very short time, I came up with these recent examples.
Frank Morris sent me a nice note about Glenn Orr ’62. Before he retired, Orr was one of North Carolina’s outstanding banking executives. He always has been interested in independent higher education and certainly has been generous to Wofford, but his contributions to Wake Forest University as chairman of its board of trustees are exceptionally noteworthy. In February, he received the university’s highest honor, the Wake Forest Medallion of Merit. He made it a point to pose for a photo with another Wofford graduate in the platform party, University Chaplain Tim Auman ’80.
I found a note to be sure to watch ABC’s television program “Shark Tank” on March 2. A year ago, Kim Adams Nelson ’84 was operating a small Spartanburg bakery that specialized in cakes made from her Great-Aunt Daisy’s recipes using the very best fresh ingredients. Her marketing concept has been “share a slice of love.” In those days, she was baking eight cakes at a time and filling 2,000 orders per year.
Then, on “Shark Tank,” Barbara Corcoran bought a piece of her action. Corcoran is the street-savvy New Yorker who made over $5 billion in the real estate business. She offered contacts, a bankroll and the marketing skills to build the brand name much more quickly. Now Daisy Cakes is producing 150 cakes at a time in larger quarters and bringing in revenues of $100,000 per month. But Nelson’s success is still anchored in a good product and a likability that shines through even on network television.
Finally, I found a new email address for Dr. Michael Copps ’63 in my in-basket. It said that he was planning to retire from the Federal Communications Commission in December. His 10 years of service left him at number seven on the longevity list of all FCC commissioners, serving under both Democrat and Republican presidents. He always has been a thoughtful and articulate spokesperson on media consolidation, broadband expansion and threats to the free media in the United States. When I googled his name, I was glad to find several recent interviews, and I am delighted to know that he has no intention of being silent on critical issues.
The public service list of recent alumni achievements could continue with Catherine Brawley Templeton ’93, who on March 15 began her work as the first woman commissioner of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, or DHEC. On Oct. 3, 2011, my Wofford classmate, the Honorable Henry Floyd ’70, was confirmed 96-0 by the U.S. Senate to serve as a judge on the Richmond-based US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. He has joined the Honorable Dennis Shedd ’75 and the Honorable Clyde Hamilton ’56 (senior judge) on the bench there and is now hearing cases.
Private liberal arts colleges differ from large state-supported, research universities in several important ways, but perhaps the key difference is that they have (or should have) a single, focused mission. Wofford’s mission is to provide superior liberal arts education that prepares its students for extraordinary and positive contributions to society. The focus of Wofford’s mission is upon fostering commitment to excellence in character, performance, leadership, service to others, and life-long learning.
By our graduates, we are known.