By MYRA THRIFT Staff Writer
Two students — just two examples of people who have been helped through the foundation — Angel Marie Merryman and Timothy Wade Strickland — told how in a time of need they were fortunate to receive financial assistance through the Dye Foundation that would help them continue with their education.
“I went to college after high school but then got married and had a child. I soon discovered my husband was addicted to drugs. I went to work and was living on my own and then my husband died in a bike accident,” said Merryman. “I started back to college, received treatment, counseling and medication for anxiety and depression. I had used up all my financial aid. The Dye Foundation helped me. Now I am taking my last two classes before graduating in May.”
She thanked everyone who had a hand in making sure the Dye Foundation is there to help herself and others like her to continue with their educational pursuit, even when life throws you a curve ball.
Merryman received the Charles Eames Scholarship in 2016. She plans to continue work on her bachelor degree in sociology through Albany State College classes at South Georgia State College in Waycross.
Strickland thanked everyone who contributed to help him finish his associate degree in physics. He plans to continue his pursuit of a career in engineering and said he is thankful for the assistance of the Dye Foundation. A 2015 honor graduate of Ware County High School, he received the Ted C. Harris Kiwanis Scholarship and the James Dye Memorial Scholarship, both of which will assist him in becoming the first in his family to graduate college.
Huey Spearman, president of the James M. Dye Foundation, welcomed the crowd and recognized several special guests in the audience.
“It is our top priority to help students fulfill their academic dreams,” Spearman said.
He commended Dr. Virginia Carson for “doing a great job” as president of South Georgia State College and introduced the three sponsors for the evening meal, SunTrust Bank, Georgia Power and The Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants (Waycross Chapter).
Dr. Carson noted the milestone of the 40th anniversary saying that “good things have been done here. I wish I had known Dr. Dye, I love his wife and family.”
Carson said that South Georgia State College, which “in name” after the merger of Waycross College and South Georgia College in Douglas, is three years old, is in good stead, enrollment is up and dual enrollment for high school students remains on the increase.
“We have 2,648 students from 386 high schools, 111 counties in Georgia, 22 other states and 13 other countries,” said Carson.
She also reported that scholarships last year totaled $55,000 and so far this year, are up to $63,000 with 130 students helped to attend college classes. Alarmingly, Carson said 80 percent of all students need financial assistance.
“With your help, we will continue to expand opportunities for students,” Carson said. “We are preparing tomorrow’s professionals to secure a bright future for Georgia.”
Chris Misamore, senior vice president and area manager of SunTrust Bank for south and west Georgia, said he was humbled and honored to have a partnership with the college. He commended Mrs. Frances Dye who he said taught Sunday School, to instill spiritual aspects of education and that SunTrust is working to develop healthy financial activities for the area.
James Willis, area manager for Georgia Power, said when he arrived here 22 years ago, Dr. James Dye was waiting in his office to make sure he was on board to continue support of the college. He said employees of Georgia Power were encouraged to “be citizens wherever you serve” and that he and Georgia Power continue to support education in the elementary schools, high school and college.
Taylor Hereford introduced the student hosts and hostesses for the evening, Nathan Steven Burke, Mallory Grace Helms, James David Hyers, Logan Esther Lee, William Dewitt Meadows and Lane McKenzie Rowell, all of whom have received scholarships for their studies.
Special recognition and small wrapped gifts were presented to petitioners, foundation presidents, foundation executive directors and Waycross College presidents, as well as the President’s Club donors. Although many of them were not present, the audience was reminded of their contributions in talent, resources and talents.
Petitioners for the establishment of the James M. Dye Foundation include William E. Deason, Jim Donaldson, Dr. James M. Dye, Warren Hereford, John G. Kopp, J. Dan Lott, C.C. McCray and Mrs. Ann Packer.
Those who have served as presidents of the James M. Dye Foundation are John G. Kopp, 1976 to 1979; J. Dan Lott, 1979-1980; Carolyn Hopkins, 1980-1981, Robert M. Williams Jr., 1981-1982; A.A. “Gus” Karle, 1982-1983; Robert L. Odum, 1983-1984; Owen Herrin, 1984-1986; Ann Packer, 1986-1988; Antoinette Hall, 1988-1989; Dr. J. Matthew Smith, 1989-1992; Lylburn Booker, 1992-1994; T.G. Crosby, 1994-1996; Deborah Carter, 1996-2000; Steve Stipe, 2000-2002; Blake Smith, 2003-2004; James Willis, 2005-2009; Dr. Dan Booker, 2010-2014; and Huey Spearman, 2014 to the present day.
Executive directors include Jim Donaldson, 1976 to 1992; Margaret Park Mathews, 1992 to 2000; John Vanchella, 2000 to 2007; and Taylor Hereford, 2008 to the present day.
Members of the board of trustees are Huey Spearman, president; Sue H. Johnson, vice president; Cindy M. Sowell, treasurer; Samuel R. Wylie, secretary; Dr. Virginia M. Carson, ex-officio; Dr. Marco A. Ayulo, Judge Michael P. Boggs, Dr. Daniel C. Booker Jr., Lylburn Booker (trustee emeritus), Deborah H. Carter (trustee emeritus), Dr. Sohail A. Choudhri, William E. Deason, Frances M. Dye, George Farr, Harbin Farr, Adam Ferrell, G.C. Ganas, Dr. Reginna Germano, John O. Hereford, P. Owen Herrin Jr. (trustee emeritus), Walda Kight, Dr. Barbara P. Losty, Bill Raulerson, Destiny Smith (student rep), Pam Taylor, E. Lawton Walker III, James Willis, Phil Wysong, Taylor Hereford, executive director, and Pamela Rudick, clerk.
Tables were set with white tablecloths and baskets of yellow roses. Those attending enjoyed a fabulous meal of prime rib, twice-baked potato, green beans, salad, bread and dessert.