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Over 63 years at Wofford

I recently learned of the passing on July 16 of Mrs. Doris B. Wade, who was one of the longest-serving employees in the history of the college. 

Mrs. Wade came to work at Wofford in the spring of 1954, when Wofford was a very different institution.  It was still all-male, at least in the regular semesters.  The faculty was much smaller, and the business office staff was probably 2 people – Mrs. Wade and the college’s bursar, Mr. Harold Smithyman.  Dr. Pendleton Gaines, Wofford’s 6th president, was in office when she joined the staff.  In total, she would work for six of the college’s eleven presidents. 

From her desk in the bursar’s office, later the business office, she witnessed Wofford’s centennial celebrations in 1954, the admission of Wofford’s first Black student in 1964, the transformation of student life in the late 1960s, the admission of women in the 1970s, and the gradual growth of the student body and faculty over time.  She also witnessed significant changes in Spartanburg, and in American society. 

Given the small size of the business office in those early days, she would have probably known more than most anybody else on campus about the college’s operations.  She probably helped pay the bills for almost everything that happened, and probably knew every student who came in to pay their tuition, or borrow a few dollars from the various loan funds.  In 1981, the college presented her with the Mary Mildred Sullivan award at Commencement, one of the college’s highest honors, noting that she was at that point in charge of student accounts in the business office. 

She came to work every day, year in and year out, as the college grew and changed around her.  I am sure she knew way more about a lot of things than she ever let on, but I used to hear about comments she’d make to her business office colleagues or senior administrators, remembering this or that student from years ago.  I know that generations of students remember her as well.  She was part of a network of women working in the various offices on campus who knew and respected each other, and probably had as much to do with the smooth operation of the college as the department heads who supervised them.  No doubt they could quickly solve many student problems with a phone call. 

Along with three other long-time staff members, she officially retired in the summer of 2009, after 55 years of full-time service.  Several hundred faculty and staff and friends came to that retirement reception.  But she didn’t really retire.  She continued to work part time for about 8 more years.  Her last day working in the business office, at least according to an email I got that day, was December 20, 2017.  I know I walked over to speak to her that day – I always felt like we had so many people in common, people that we both knew, but that she knew for much longer than I did.  She was a part of Wofford for over sixty years – I think the only institution that she was part of longer was her church – she was a lifelong member of Sharon United Methodist near Reidville.  63 years of service is probably more than most of us want to give to any institution, but I think she kept coming to work here every day because of how much she loved being around the people -students and staff – of Wofford. 

By Phillip Stone

I've been the archivist of Wofford College and the South Carolina United Methodist since 1999. I'll be sharing college, Methodist, and local history, documents, photographs, and other interesting stories on this blog, which I've been keeping since December 2007.

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