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McDuffies' Scholarship to Help Students from Rowan, Cabarrus and Mecklenburg Counties

August 28, 2007

Category: Academics, Alumni


James Doyle McDuffie '50 of Charlotte and wife Darlene Sears McDuffie have established a scholarship at Catawba College which bears their names. Preference for the scholarship will be given to students from Rowan, Cabarrus and Mecklenburg counties.

"We are grateful to the McDuffies for their foresight in the establishment of this new scholarship," said Tom Childress, Catawba Senior Vice President. "Since his graduation, Jim has been very involved in the life of the institution, representing his alma mater well in both the region and state. This new scholarship assures that the McDuffie name and intention of helping future generations of students will continue well into the future."

McDuffie, who grew up in Kannapolis, has enjoyed a long and successful career employed as a State Farm Agent and continues to be employed in that capacity. Outside of his career, McDuffie served for three years on the Charlotte City Council and ran unsuccessfully to serve as mayor of Charlotte against John Belk. He was elected five times to the North Carolina State Senate between 1974 and 1988, serving under three different governors  — Holshouser, Martin and Hunt.

McDuffie attended Cannon High School in Kannapolis where he was a valuable member of the 1946 basketball team that won 27 games and only lost two. They won three tournaments including a 110-team Winston Salem Journal Newspaper Annual Tournament. McDuffie was recruited by Lenoir Rhyne's Clarence Stasavich for football and basketball. He was only 17 years old his freshman year and was the sixth player on the basketball team. Wishing to develop more in basketball, he gave up football and transferred to Pfeiffer Junior College. He and two teammates there were recruited to play at UNC Chapel Hill by then coach Tom Scott. Lacking foreign language and algebra, UNC declined admission to him. He averaged 20 points playing industrial league basketball against teams like Hanes Hosiery, McCrary Eagles- Davidson and Appalachian State. Against the 1950 Duke freshmen, he scored 33 points.

Just two months after his graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. It was while stationed in Denver in 1950 that he met his future wife, Darlene, who lived in that city with her parents and attended Colorado State University. A year later, Darlene Sears learned through a telegram that she received from CBS-TV that her Air Force fiancé, Sgt. James McDuffie, had written a letter and won a televised, all-expense paid wedding in New York City — to be broadcast on a live television show, "Bride and Groom."

This year, the McDuffies celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary. They are parents of four adult children, all college graduates — David, an alumnus of Pfeiffer University; Mark, an alumnus of UNC-Charlotte; Patricia, an alumna of N.C. State University; and John, an alumnus of UNC-Chapel Hill — and also have eight grandchildren.

Looking back on his time at Catawba, McDuffie remembered classes taught by the late M.M. "Chub" Richards, "a tough instructor who wanted you in your seat before class began and kept you there until it was over."  He also recalled a female professor who taught anatomy and "made demands on her students like they were going to be in the medical field."

Earl Ruth was also one of McDuffie's favorite persons. His P.E. classes featured participation by Coach Ruth who did not like to lose any kind of game.

When asked what advice he would give to current Catawba students, he responded: "Take advantage of opportunities that you have to be a diverse person and learn all that you can. Make decisions that will benefit you and your family and make you a better person."

A loyal Catawba athletics supporter, McDuffie, who was honored by Catawba in 1977 with its Distinguished Alumnus Award, has consistently supported the Catawba Chiefs and the Catawba Fund. He also made a gift to support the construction of Shuford Stadium in 2002.

When he is not working, McDuffie can be found on a golf course several times a week. He recently continued a tradition he began in 1987 while serving as a state senator and competed in the national Senior Olympics, held this year in Louisville, Ky. He has won three medals in National competition in the Olympics.


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