Three Catawba College alumni were honored by their alma mater on Sunday, April 18, as recipients of the College's prestigious Adrian L. Shuford, Jr. Award for Distinguished Service. Recipients included Mr. Raymond '53 and Dr. Shirley Ritchie '52 of Salisbury and Mr. David E. "Gene" Fuller '52 of Charlotte.
College President Dr. W. Craig Turner made the presentations during a special President's Circle Event held to recognize the institution's major donors in Hedrick Theatre of the Robertson College-Community Center.
The Adrian L. Shuford, Jr. Award is presented annually to individuals whose actions and generosity to both the college and their communities emulate those of the late Adrian L. Shuford, Jr. of Conover, a businessman and a long-serving member of the College Board of Trustees. The President's Award for Distinguished Service was first presented in 1983, but in 1984, the award was named to honor Mr. Shuford and in recognition of all he had done for the college. This year's event marks the 28th year that Catawba has presented this award.
Mr. Raymond '53 and Dr. Shirley Peeler Ritchie '52
Turner described the Ritchies as "an unpretentious team that has enriched Catawba College greatly through their service, quiet and often anonymous stewardship, and dedication." He said the family's history with the college dates back to the 1920s when Shirley Ritchie's mother, the late Lillian Caldwell Peeler, attended Old Catawba in Newton and was counted among the members of the Class of 1926. He also noted that Shirley's father, the late Clifford Peeler, served for many years on Catawba's Board of Trustees. Clifford Peeler was a successful businessman who parlayed locally made soft drink, Cheerwine, into a booming family business and large Salisbury employer.
Turner said of the Ritchies, "The support that both Raymond and Shirley have provided to their alma mater has been phenomenal." He noted that in addition to annual gifts, the two have established a scholarship at Catawba in honor of Shirley's mother. He said they also have contributed generously to every major campaign the College has been involved in, including their most recent gifts to the 2 to 1 Matching Challenge. He added that a floor in Fuller Hall of Abernethy Village is named in their honor.
In accepting the award, Shirley Ritchie said, "I don't feel like we should be rewarded for [doing] something that we love so much, and we do love Catawba. I feel like it's my destiny to be here." Raymond Ritchie quipped that the best thing he did to deserve the honor was to "encourage Shirley to transfer from Greensboro College to Catawba."
Both natives of Salisbury, Shirley Ritchie graduated with a double-major in religion and philosophy and sociology, while Raymond majored in business and played football as a starter — offensive tackle — proudly wearing #46, until his 1953 graduation. After they graduated and were married, they settled in Salisbury to raise their family.
Raymond went to work for Carolina Beverage Corporation where he rose through the years to the rank of vice president. Shirley also went to work, first as a social worker, a school counselor in the Salisbury City Schools, and as an instructor and program director for Early Childhood Gifted Project at UNC Charlotte. All the while, she was furthering her education. She earned her master's degree in guidance and counseling and her doctorate in the areas of child development and family relations from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She joined the faculty of Catawba in 1981, and served the institution as a professor of education until her retirement in 1993.
While on the faculty at Catawba, Shirley received both the Swink Prize for outstanding classroom teaching and the Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award. Catawba honored her in 2005 as the recipient of the O.B. Michael Award and in 2007 as the recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award. She was awarded an honorary doctorate by Catawba in 1998. She was honored by Catawba in 2007 when it named the Shirley Peeler Ritchie Academy for Teaching for her.
In the community, both Shirley and Raymond are active members of St. John's Lutheran Church. Shirley has taken a leadership role in several area organizations including serving on the board of Partners in Learning, the Charlotte Area Education Consortium, Rowan Regional Medical Center, the Paul Laurence Dunbar Family Resource Center, and Meals on Wheels of Rowan County. She joined the Catawba Board of Trustees in 2001 and now serves as secretary of that Board.
The Ritchies are parents of three adult children, sons Cliff and Mark Ritchie, and daughter, Celia Ritchie Jarrett; and six grandchildren.
Mr. David E. "Gene" Fuller '52
In making the award presentation to David Fuller, President Turner described Fuller's loyalty to his alma mater as one "born of long-term friendships and fond memories."
He noted that Fuller had supported Catawba through his gifts and service, "with an eye on areas of greatest need." Fuller's gifts have been widely varied, Turner continued, touching everything from the Shuford Stadium effort, to outfitting a new kinesiology lab, to providing funding for music department tours, and to helping to construct five new residence halls on campus – one of which is named Fuller Hall in honor of Fuller and his wife Jane.
Fuller called Catawba his "second home" as he accepted the award. He remembered that he "didn't see this place until I showed up in September" the year he enrolled. Fuller recognized former Catawba President Fred Corriher for reconnecting him to his alma mater in the early 1990s when Fuller had stopped by campus for a quick self-guided tour before a funeral.
Born and raised in Lumberton, Fuller came to Catawba after serving several years in the U.S. Corp of Engineers. He was the youngest of five children and the first in his family to attend college. He came to Catawba after several friends who were planning to go, encouraged him to join them. An outstanding athlete, Fuller concentrated on basketball during all four of his college years and made lasting friendships.
Fuller, a member of the College Board of Trustees, is now semi-retired after a successful career as a commercial real estate developer. He now works managing commercial property that he owns.
Fuller and his wife are parents of two adult sons, Mark and David, and grandparents of a grandson and a granddaughter.
Other Adrian L. Shuford, Jr. Award Recipients
Other recipients and the year in which they received the award include Dr. Theodore P. Leonard, 1983; Enoch A. Goodman, 1984; Clifford A. Peeler, 1985; James F. Hurley, 1986; Ralph W. Ketner, 1987; Elizabeth C. Stanback, 1988; Roy E. Leinbach, Jr., 1989; Frances H. Johnson, 1990; Patricia P. Rendleman, 1991; Mariam Cannon Hayes, 1992; Tom E. Smith, 1993; Claude S. Abernethy, Jr., 1994; Millard F. Wilson, 1995; Fred J. Stanback, Jr., 1996; Paul E. Fisher, 1997; Daniel E. Kirk, 1998; Mary O. Dearborn, 1999; Wilson L. Smith, 2000; Marion M. Richard, 2001; J. Fred and Bonnie Corriher, 2002; William C. Stanback, 2003; Jacqueline C. Leonard, 2004; Charles Taylor, Jr., 2005; Newton O. Fowler and C.A. "Junie" Michael III, 2006; Claude B. Hampton, Jr. and James L. Williamson, 2007; and Charles G. Potts, Wade Hampton Shuford, Jr., Dr. Robert E. and Brenda S. Knott, 2008, and Robert and Sara Cook, 2009.
PHOTOS: President's Circle and Adrian Shuford Awards Presentation