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Inaugural Class Inducted into Catawba's Business Hall of Fame

November 7, 2007

Category: Alumni, Business & Economics, Events

Business Hall of FameCatawba College's Ralph W. Ketner School of Business inducted seven individuals into its new Business Hall of Fame on Saturday, Nov. 3, in the Peeler Crystal Lounge of the Robertson College-Community Center.

Nearly 200 people attended the induction of the inaugural class which included local business leaders, Ralph W. Ketner, co-founder of Food Lion; Claude B. Hampton, Jr., retired executive vice president of Nabisco; and Lynne Scott Safrit, president of Atlantic American Properties and Castle & Cooke, developers of the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. Also inducted were Thomas S. Carroll of New Canaan, Connecticut, retired CEO and President of Lever Brothers; and three who were inducted posthumously:  Dr. Millard F. Wilson of Salisbury, chair of the business department at Catawba for more than 30 years; Adrian L. Shuford, Jr. of Conover, retired business executive and trustee of the college; and J. W. Abernethy Sr. of Newton, business executive and benefactor of the college.

Joey Popp, a 30-year broadcasting veteran and 1977 alumnus of Catawba, served as emcee for the program, sponsored by the Business Advisory Board for the Ketner School of Business at Catawba. College President Robert E. Knott assisted with the induction ceremony. Phil Kirk, Vice President for External Relations, welcomed the group, which included faculty, administrators, trustees, students, alumni, and other friends of the inductees. Professor Paul Oakley and Eric Finland provided music during the reception and dinner.

F&M Bank was the gold sponsor for the event. Silver sponsors included Rowan Regional Medical Center, Summit Developers, Robert and Tara Van Geons, VeloceNet, and Food Lion. The bronze sponsors were Duke Energy, Tom Abramowski and Rockwell Farms, Carolina Aircraft, Multi Wall Packaging, Norandal USA, Inc., Square D, SunTrust, and Walker Marketing.

The Inductees

Claude B. Hampton, Jr.
Claude B. Hampton was inducted by his granddaughter, Lindsay Hampton, a N. C. State University student from Salisbury. Hampton recalled his days at Catawba and at Nabisco, crediting the education he received for a big part of his successful business career. He said the Ketner School of Business is poised for greatness and is receiving strong support from the trustees.

Claude B. Hampton, Jr.Hampton, a native of Newton who grew up in Statesville, served in the Air Force during World War II. He earned his degree in business from Catawba after World War II and enjoyed a long and productive career with Nabisco. At Nabisco, he advanced through the Biscuit Division's field selling organization before being named vice president of sales in 1976. In 1978, he was elected vice president of Nabisco, Inc., and president of the Biscuit Division. In 1981, he was named to the additional position of senior vice president and group executive, Nabisco Brands U.S.A.

In 1985, he was named executive vice president at Nabisco, but that same year, he elected instead to take early retirement and accepted an invitation to join the Catawba College Board of Trustees. He and his late wife, Edith, moved back to Salisbury from New Jersey where they had made their home, and Hampton also began serving Catawba as an adjunct professor of business education.

A former director for Chubb Life Insurance Company, Hampton has served on a variety of other business boards. In 1986, Catawba awarded him an honorary doctor of laws degree. Hampton earned his master's degree in marketing from the School of Business and International Marketing at Syracuse University and a degree from the advanced management program at Harvard University.

He is a current member of Catawba's Board of Trustees.

Ralph W. Ketner
Ralph W. KetnerIn delivering the induction remarks for Salisbury businessman Ralph W. Ketner, Phil Kirk lauded Ketner for being "right" in so many ways in his life, playing on that theme as a result of the W in Ketner's name standing for Wright. "He has been right with his family, right with his business and business associates and right with so many worthwhile causes, and, of course,  he has been very right with his support of Catawba College in sharing his resources and, of course, his time and talents."

Kirk told the group that Ketner represents the character traits and attributes which Catawba seeks to instill in its students. Among those he listed were hard work, loyalty, effective communication, and strong convictions. "Very seldom does one have any difficulty knowing what Ralph Ketner means when he says something," he said. "If this were a roast instead of a toast, I might say that some would say he is opinionated or occasionally stubborn, but I would say instead that he is a leader with strong principles and high moral values."

Ketner responded by sharing stories of lessons learned in the business world and gave examples of how to achieve success in business. The Ketner School of Business is named for the Salisbury businessman as is Ketner Hall, which houses the business, mathematics, and teacher education programs at Catawba as well as the institution's School of Evening and Graduate Studies. He is a member of the board of trustees at Catawba. Ketner has been the recipient of numerous awards, including membership in the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame.

Lynne Scott Safrit
Catawba trustee Darlene Ball of Greensboro inducted Lynne Scott Safrit, whom she called an "intelligent and savvy businesswoman who has earned the utmost respect of her friends, church members, fellow real estate developers, associates at Castle & Cooke and those in academia, government and industry throughout the country whom she has dealt with in the development of the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis."

Lynne Scott SafritBall read from a letter written by David Murdock, the billionaire developer whom Safrit has worked for during the past 25 years. He wrote, "I started out working with a young lady not too long out of college with a lot to learn about business. During the period of time that we've worked together, she has gone from letting my ideas lead her, to her ideas leading me. Many of the ideas which I get credited for are Lynne's ideas."

Murdock continued, "Lynne's education, hard-driving desire, integrity and intellectual ability have caused her to be the hallmark of an example to other men and women."

Safrit's husband, Wally, added, "Lynne possesses that rare combination of intellect and beauty, grace and wit, humility and strength not often found in so plentiful measure. She is well gifted for the business world but she cherishes motherhood more. She is at ease standing to speak for a thousand people but she prays on her knees. Lynne may well be destined for higher causes but she is content to resolve today's challenges."

Safrit credited the education she received at Catawba for much of her success in life. "I came to Catawba as a sophomore and I fell in love with this college. I knew that the people at Catawba cared about me as an individual," she said.

A native of Kannapolis, Safrit began her career working at Cannon Mills while an English major at Catawba. She later received her master's degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is a member of the Catawba College Board of Trustees.

Thomas S. Carroll
Thomas S. CarrollThomas S. Carroll, who was unable to be present, was inducted by Henry Bernhardt, former Vice President for Institutional Advancement of Catawba, who praised the former Lever Brothers CEO, for opening the doors to the offices of many foundations and corporations in New York City for Catawba College. "He was so gracious and such a gentleman in everything he did," Bernhardt said.

Carroll was the first speaker at the symposium for business people and students at Catawba and later assisted in inviting CEOs from across the country to come to the Catawba campus to speak.

David Setzer, former Executive Assistant to the President at Catawba, accepted the award in Carroll's absence. "He walked in the halls of the mighty as a leader and counselor and he did it with class." 

Carroll, a native of New York City, majored in math at Catawba and served as a trustee for many years. Carroll retired as CEO of Lever Brothers in 1980 and then assumed the role of president and chief executive officer of International Executive Service Corps.

Dr. Millard F. Wilson
The late Dr. Millard F. Wilson, who led Catawba's business program from 1948 through 1979, was inducted by Al Carter, associate professor emeritus of accounting who taught with him. Carter called Wilson "not only a colleague, but a friend."  He discussed the high expectations that Wilson had for his students and the efforts made by students to meet those standards. "Catawba is like a family. Mr. Wilson said one never says goodbye. Just say 'I will see you soon.' One never leaves the family for good." 

Dr. Millard F. WilsonAccepting on behalf of Wilson's widow, Helen, former Catawba President Fred Corriher, a former student of Dr. Wilson's, recalled the days when Wilson's students were required to wear coats and ties to make presentations in class.

"We were all addressed as 'Mr.'  No one had ever called me Mr. Corriher. I had always been called 'Freddie.'  He made you feel as if you were really someone of importance. It helped shape whom we all became. It taught us how to think on our feet and to be able to express our ideas verbally and coherently."

Corriher added, "Without the work done by Millard Wilson, there might not be a Ketner School of Business today. He laid the groundwork and set the course for the business school. Ralph Ketner then provided the funds to make Millard Wilson's dreams a reality and to provide a beautiful facility in which to house that dream."

J.W. Abernethy Sr.
J.W. Abernethy Sr.Dr. Karl Hales, professor emeritus of communications at Catawba, inducted the late J. W. Abernethy by calling him a "generous benefactor, member of the board of trustees for more than three decades, financial advisor, and valuable voice of reason for Catawba College throughout a long association with this school. The college grew and prospered from his extensive counsel.”

Hales traced Abernethy's successful business career, as well as his accomplishments in the military and as a philanthropist. Catawba President A. R. Keppel was quoted by Hales as listing the ways Abernethy helped in building Catawba. "First, his unswerving faith in the institution and in its administration; second, his indomitable spirit to achieve his objective at all costs; and, third, his consistent practice of setting the example himself."

Hales concluded, "Between raising money, giving money, and his uncanny ability to know when to buy and when to sell the college's stock, could easily be a fourth reason for his success for the college."

Christine and James Abernethy accepted the award and expressed the family's appreciation and recalled the love which J. W. Abernethy had for Catawba, even though he was not an alumnus. His interest in Catawba originated from his active role in the Grace Reformed United Church of Christ in Newton.

Adrian L. Shuford, Jr.
Dr. Martha West, a trustee of Catawba and former faculty member, presented Dr. Adrian Shuford for membership in the Business Hall of Fame. Of him she said, "Truly he considered Catawba to be part of his family. He nurtured the college with love, leadership, knowledge, and resources."  She recalled experiences with Dr. Shuford when her late husband preached at Dr. Shuford's church, Trinity United Church of Christ in Conover, calling him a "kind, gentle man."

Adrian L. Shuford, Jr.Accepting the award, Dr. Ken Clapp, senior vice president and campus chaplain, said, "Adrian was one of my most valuable advisors and friends, a person who was supportive of the different ministries in which I have had the opportunity to engage. His wisdom, practical advice and encouragement have been exceptional."

Continuing Clapp said, "Adrian had a personal commitment to support causes that he believed were worthwhile and valuable work that positively impacted the lives of others. In Catawba College, he saw an institution that was true to that mission and gave value to the resources provided it. If Adrian were alive tonight to be here to receive this, he most likely would respond by being embarrassed and saying something to the effect, 'I appreciate your thoughtfulness, but it is not about me. Let's get on with the work that still needs to be done.' "

The Business Hall of Fame
The Catawba College Business Hall of Fame will be held in the fall of each year to showcase the Ketner School of Business and its successful graduates and supporters. According to the Hall of Fame bylaws, four candidates will be inducted annually and nominations are accepted, although the candidates must meet these criteria:

  • Business Hall of Fame ProgramA candidate must either have attended Catawba College as a full-time student, been employed at Catawba as a full or part-time faculty/staff member, including adjunct faculty or Executive-in-Residence or contributed to the success of the College by performing outstanding service as a volunteer. ;
  • A candidate, if eligible as a former student, must have completed his/her degree a Catawba College at least 10 years immediately preceding the date of induction. ;
  • A candidate's business achievements and contributions to business while at Catawba College or as an alumnus must have been widely recognized over the area served by the College, enhancing the reputation of the College as well as himself or herself. ;
  • A candidate must be of good character and reputation and must have been in good standing at the termination of such relationship with the College.

A permanent exhibit of Business Hall of Fame inductees is being installed in Ketner Hall.