Dr. Randall T. Ruble ’58 and Molly Grant Ruble ’60 of Due West, former president and first lady of Erskine College and Seminary, received the Alumni Distinguished Service Award as part of Alumni Weekend activities at Erskine College and Seminary April 27. Awards were presented to alumni and friends at a meeting led by outgoing Alumni Association President Nan Sherer Campbell ’86 of Honea Path.
The Alumni Association was gathered “mostly to celebrate,” Campbell said, and added that sometimes the organization’s role is to “patiently watch and pray.”
Erskine President Dr. David A. Norman, who will be leaving his post at the end of June, welcomed alumni and said, “I am incredibly thankful for the three years my family and I have had at Erskine.”
Norman paid tribute to the Rubles as well as to former president and first lady Dr. John and Sarah Ellen Carson, saying “I could not have made it through the past three years” without their advice and support.
Vice President for Finance and Operations Greg Haselden presented the award to the Rubles. “This year, the committee was unable to separate the award winners,” he said. “Their work for Due West, the ARP Church, and especially Erskine College and Seminary, has been joined for more than 50 years.”
Dr. Randall T. Ruble came out of retirement to serve as Erskine president from 2006 to 2010. He holds degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary and the University of Edinburgh. During his long tenure at Erskine, he served as chaplain for the college and seminary and as professor, assistant dean, and finally vice president and dean of the seminary. He was named dean emeritus upon his retirement from the seminary and president emeritus upon his second retirement.
Molly Ruble taught at Erskine and in the public schools, but spent much of her career as a speech and language pathologist. She earned two master’s degrees, one in English from Clemson University and one in communication sciences and disorders from the University of Georgia. Known for her hospitality and concern for others, she has joined her husband in supporting Erskine events with her presence.
The president emeritus said he was glad that he and his wife were chosen to receive the award together and expressed gratitude for their many years of marriage.
The Rubles are the parents of three adult children and enjoy their role as grandparents. Many family members and friends, including two sons and two grandsons, came to Due West to honor them.
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 Norman.
Sarah Richie Dagenhart ’82, who earned a master’s degree in teaching from Winthrop University and serves as a kindergarten teacher in Rock Hill, received the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award. Described as “always willing to serve and eager to see the success of others,” she met her husband Barry while he was a student at Erskine Seminary, and their two children, Jamey and Rachel, are Erskine graduates. Active in the First ARP Church in Rock Hill, she also serves on the Board of Advisors for the Bonclarken Assembly.
William Banks Patrick Jr. ’66, a partner in the McDonald Patrick Law Firm in Greenwood, received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. He has served on the boards of CountyBank, TCB Corporation, and Chester Telephone Company; as chairman of the Erskine Board of Trustees; on the boards of Bonclarken, Greenwood School District 50, and Greenwood Genetic Center; and on the ARP Board of Stewardship. He has been a Rotary Club president and a trustee for Self Foundation and the South Carolina Foundation of Independent Colleges. “These are just the ones we found,” Norman said of Patrick’s many avenues of service. An elder at Greenwood ARP Church, he is married to the former Laurel Barron, an Erskine graduate.
The Outstanding Young Alumni Award, for recent graduates who have begun making achievements in the workplace, church and community, was given to Marcia Tuten Greci ’96, an attorney with Avery Dennison. A chemistry major, she earned a Ph.D. in organic and polymer chemistry and a law degree, and has worked with Dr. George Olah, a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. She is on the board of Camp Opportunity in Greenville, serving abused and neglected children. Tuten, who is in India, sent her thanks.
Mary Lou Whitesides Pearson ’50 received the Erskine Service Award, presented by Director of Alumni Affairs Buddy Ferguson ’82. She has served as a chapter worker as well as a co-chair for the Annual Fund. Her family established the Gaston Community Foundation and she has served on the Erskine Board as well as on the Gold Campaign Steering Committee. She was praised as “one who views service as an opportunity.”
Joseph H. “Jody” Patrick Jr. of Greenwood, partner and president of Southern Resources, LLP, was named an honorary alumnus. A native of Ninety Six, he is an active member of Greenwood ARP Church. The Patrick family established a scholarship in memory of the late Mary Deck Jenkins Patrick, an Erskine graduate and Patrick’s first wife. He has been married to Robin Belcher Patrick since 2000.
Outgoing Alumni Board members recognized were Carolyn Baird Borden ’70; Ellen Rodillo Fowler ’97; Jane Todd Presseau ’59; Ty B. Robinson ’96; Ruth McDill Stukes ’79; and Buddy Styers ’64.
The Class of 1963 Gift was a donation of more than $7,000 toward a baseball scoreboard.
Annual Fund Co-Chairs Dr. Robert M. Alexander ’73 and Jane Shelton Dale ’73 said this year’s goal is $1.3 million, with $910,000 raised to date. Dale quoted Nan Campbell’s assertion that “Erskine students are worthy of our continued investment.” Alexander reminded alumni that they are “surrounded by potential students where we live, where we work.”
President-elect Steve Southwell ’80 presented nominees for the Alumni Association Board; Campbell conducted the election and installed the officers. Chosen as new members were Amy Cunningham Alexander ’91; David Danehower ’74; Scott Fleming ’77; Jo Ann Griffith ’56; Harriet Smith Linderman ’60; and Lewis McKelvey ’81. Andy Byrd ’88 was named president-elect, and Sharon Smith ’90 was named secretary.
Following the passing of the gavel, Southwell offered a few closing remarks, focusing on the need for alumni participation.
“We each took a part of Erskine with us in our hearts,” he said. “We’re stakeholders in Erskine—in its past, in its future.”
Southwell stressed that in the area of institutional governance, “Ours is a supporting role.”
The Erskine Choraleers opened the meeting with a short concert. The Rev. Bryan Bult, pastor of Greenwood ARP Church, offered the opening prayer and President Emeritus Dr. Randall T. Ruble gave the closing prayer and blessing.
Activities Friday night included a 50th reunion dinner for the Class of 1963, and a number of classes gathered Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening. Elizabeth DeVault ’07, soprano, presented a recital Saturday afternoon.
Saturday’s events started early with the 21st annual Red Eye Run. Assistant Athletic Director Bart Walker took first place among the men with a time of 19:42, with freshman Alexis Zwilling coming in first among the women at 22:30.