Three Catawba College alumni were honored as recipients of the College's Distinguished Alumnus Award during a barbecue luncheon held Saturday, Nov. 4 in the Goodman Gymnasium of the Abernethy Physical Education Center before the football game against Presbyterian College. ;
College Alumni Grady Shoe '49 of Mooresville, Larry Cloninger '74 of Salisbury, and Tom Childress '64 of Salisbury were recognized with these awards are made annually at homecoming by the College Alumnus Association to individuals who have served their community, distinguished themselves in their profession, and served the College community.
Grady Shoe '49
Shoe, who enjoyed a long career in the automotive industry, recently stepped down as owner and operator of several Ford dealerships, including Mooresville Ford. Active in the Mooresville community, he served as the first chairman of Mooresville's ABC Store Board and for 30 years, from 1969 to 1999, he served as an elected commissioner for the Town of Mooresville. He is credited with being one of Mooresville's community leaders who successfully lobbied for business diversification during a time when textile industries in the Piedmont area were going out of business.
In 2004, Shoe was the recipient of the State of North Carolina's highest civilian honor, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. His other honors include Jaycees Boss of the Year, Kiwanian of the Year, Mooresville Outstanding Citizenship award, the Ford Motor Company's President' Award, and the Time Magazine Quality Dealer Award, which Shoe was the only N.C. automotive dealer to receive. He serves on the board of directors for BB&T in Mooresville and is a member of the Carolinas Transportation Compact. He has served as past chair of the Lowrance Hospital and taught Sunday school at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Mooresville for more than 30 years.
Shoe has long supported the College's annual fund, various capital campaigns, the Shuford Stadium campaign and more. Recently, he made a $100,000 gift to Catawba to establish an endowed scholarship and to endow the institution's annual Orientation Program for new students.
Married to wife Frances, they are parents of four adult children.
Larry Cloninger '74
A native of Gaston County, Cloninger is president of Cloninger Ford-Toyota of Salisbury and serves on the Catawba College Board of Trustees. He has co-chaired the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce's capital campaign and is supportive of many community organizations including the Boy Scouts, the Salisbury-Rowan Symphony, Waterworks Visual Art Gallery, Salisbury Academy and the Cannon School of Salisbury.
He and wife Susan recently established the Cloninger First Family Scholarship fund at Catawba. The couple also made a substantial gift to furnish and maintain the College's guest house which was the 2004 Salisbury-Rowan Symphony Guild's Designer House. That house, which the Cloningers' gift helped furnish and maintain, is now named the Cloninger Guest House in their honor.
Tom Childress ‘64
A native of Mt. Airy, Childress currently serves as Catawba's senior vice president responsible for development and athletics. He joined the College in 1995 as athletic director, but only spent one year in that position before moving to his current post.
Under his leadership, between the 1996/1997 academic year and the 2005-2006 academic year, $101.6 million dollars has been raised for the institution - $63.3 million of that in gifts, $31.4 million in deferred gifts, and $6.9 million in open pledges. Additionally, the College endowment has increased by $10 million in the last 10 years and now stands at $36.2 million.
Last year, the College saw its highest number of donors contributing to the institution – 3,427, with a 30% alumni participation. It also saw President's Circle membership at its highest point ever – 378 members. The institution's Tower Society members more than doubled from just 80 individuals in 1998-99 to 179 in 2005-2006. Chiefs Club membership last year was also at its highest level ever – 449 members. Additionally, the number of First Family and Endowed Scholarships at the institution numbered 281.
Childress coached at East Surry High School and served as assistant coach at Appalachian State University before becoming head basketball coach at Pfeiffer where he spent 14 years. In that capacity, he led his team to two conference championships and a conference tournament title. He was named Carolina Conference Coach of the Year five different times.
He served as athletic director at Pfeiffer from 1977 until 1990. During his tenure, Pfeiffer expanded from nine varsity sports to 14 and developed facilities for tennis, softball, lacrosse and field hockey. Childress instituted Pfeiffer's Sports Hall of Fame into which he was inducted in 1992, and he was inducted into Catawba's Hall of Fame in 1998. In his hometown, in recognition of his own athletic prowess and his work to promote athletics, he was inducted in 2006 into the Mt. Airy Sports Hall of Fame.
He and wife Judy ‘65 are parents of four adult children and eight grandchildren.
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