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Wofford’s first Rhodes Scholar, John L. Hydrick

Written By: Phillip Stone - Dec• 17•12

For all of my years at Wofford, in recounting some of the noteworthy facts about alumni, I’ve always mentioned that we have had five Rhodes Scholars.

Now, with Rachel Woodlee’s election last month, I get to amend that one to six.

Dr. John L. Hydrick ‘1908, Wofford’s first Rhodes Scholar

But what about those first five?  Three of them came very quickly after the establishment of the Rhodes Trust.  The first was John Lee Hydrick, of the class of 1908.  A native of Spartanburg, Hydrick was a very well-rounded student.  He was president of the junior class, president of the Calhoun Literary Society, captain of the gymnasium team, and a member of Chi Phi Fraternity.  Interestingly, three of those things no longer exist at Wofford.  He was also literary editor of the Journal and was the first editor of the Bohemian, which got its start in 1908.  About him, his classmates wrote “His faith, perhaps, in some nice tenets might/ Be wrong; his life, I’m sure, was in the right.”

He was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship in 1908, the year of his graduation.  He later studied medicine and graduated from the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.  He spent much of his career with the Rockefeller Foundation, and in the 1930s, was working in the Dutch East Indies, doing hospital work in Java.  By 1954, when Wofford awarded him an honorary doctorate, he had been on the staff of the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies.  With the permission of the American government, Hydrick received a Dutch knighthood.

His work also took him to Brazil, the Cayman Islands, India, Peru, and Ecuador, and he was honored for his work by the governments of Ecuador and Peru.  He was a member of the International Health Board.  He was living in Phoenix, AZ when he died in 1958.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at the others.

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