A gray moustache, a rose bud boutonniere, a black beret and an unquenchable passion for teaching are just some of the most remembered attributes of the late Dr. David Earl Faust who served for 38 years on the faculty at Catawba College. Faust, a professor of religion and history, was also known for his memorable greeting, "There you are!" which he almost always enthused upon seeing a student, a colleague, an acquaintance or friend.
To assure that the spirit of Dr. Faust lives on at Catawba, two of his former students, Ray Oxendine and Guy Rich, both alumni of the Class of 1961, have kicked off an effort to establish the Dr. David and Genevieve Faust Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund at the college. The Fausts' sons, David W. '49 of El Paso, Texas, and John '52 of Charleston, Ill., are fully supportive of the effort. Preference for the scholarship will be given to students who demonstrate need and who are majoring in religion and philosophy or history.
Ray Oxendine says he would remind his fellow alumni "that there were a lot of us who wouldn't be alumni if it hadn't been for Dr. Faust." "He [Dr. Faust] always took you under his wing and wanted to talk to you and ask you something about your family," Oxendine recalls. "It made you feel important and special. It even made you feel real interesting. He always showed up at everything at Catawba — athleticEvents, dances — you could always expect to see Dr. Faust."
Oxendine also remembers the three by five-inch cards that Dr. Faust kept on each student in his classes. "He would stand up in front of the class, shuffle those cards and call your name out. You never knew when your card was going to come up and it kept you on your toes."
Dr. Faust's son, David, remembers his father as a man who loved people. "He really didn't stand out in the crowd, but he was probably standing there talking to someone. He enjoyed the little guy.
"The person didn't have to be such a scholar or a big shot, they could just be an ordinary student with ordinary grades, but he enjoyed hearing about them and what they were doing and where they were going. He loved to take up tickets at basketball, football, baseball or American Legion games because that gave him a chance to talk to people. It was like a sudden joy for him to run into somebody.
"He said to me: 'We should live our life so we could be other-minded.' He had this idea that we were caught up in ourselves and he thought we should probe other experiences and other people and it would be like our having another 100,000 lives in addition to our own. It just opened up the horizon of our life to know other people."
David Faust also says the roses that figured so prominently in his father's life were grown to give away to other people. "He never thought the roses should just stay in his yard; he thought that people should have them."
Dr. Faust himself summed up his students and his teaching this way in a February 7, 1959 article published in Catawba's student newspaper, "The Pioneer": "the most interesting part about Catawba is her students ... My main interest is to teach students how to study and work for themselves. I make teaching a game and everybody is in on the act. The important thing is not what I have to say, but what they say."
In an April 28, 1968 story which ran in "The Salisbury Post," Dr. Faust shared some of his life's philosophy. "I believe the greatest value in life is to belong and be loyal ... to your city, your college, your organization, your friends. Looking back, I find my joys in living."
Dr. Faust, born August 24, 1897 in Mercersburg, Pa., earned his undergraduate degree from Franklin and Marshall, his doctorate of divinity from Yale Divinity School, and his Ph.D. from Yale Graduate School. During World War I, he was a Seaman Second Class in the U.S. Navy stationed at Great Lakes and Hampton Roads bases. He married wife Genevieve Rose in 1924, and five years later, in the fall of 1929, moved his family to Salisbury where he joined the Catawba faculty. He spent his professional life at the College.
In an interview with "The Salisbury Post" in 1969 after his retirement from Catawba, he recalled coming south. "I had never heard of Catawba and had never been further south than Norfolk, Va., but it (the call) came when I needed it. The biggest things that have happened to me have happened without me making any move. That came when I needed it and just when I was ready. I believe in the power of God. Everything in my background fitted in to make me what I am, even though I didn't know when I was doing it that it would all fit."
In addition to being a beloved professor at Catawba, Dr. Faust was ordained a minister in the Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1945. He was a member of the Catawba Hall of Fame, former president of the North State Conference, and a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame. He was also active in a multitude of clubs and organizations, including the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the N.C. Council of Churches, the American Legion, the Rowan Rose Society, and the National Association of Bible Instructors.
Those wishing to make contributions to the David and Genevieve Faust Endowed Scholarship Fund, should contact the Catawba College Development Office at (704) 637-4394 or at 1-800-CATAWBA.
PHOTOS: Dr. David Earl Faust