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UPDATED: 3/31/20 - 11:28 a.m.

School of Business to Host Inaugural Business Hall of Fame

September 14, 2007

Category: Business & Economics, Events

Business Hall of FameCatawba College's Ketner School of Business will host its inaugural Business Hall of Fame on Saturday, November 3. Seven individuals will be inducted into the Business Hall of Fame at the event which begins with a 6 p.m. reception, followed by a 6:45 p.m. dinner in Peeler Crystal Lounge of the Robertson College-Community Center on campus.

Those to be inducted include the late J.W. Abernethy Sr. of Newton, a Carolina textile magnate and longtime trustee of the college, Thomas Carroll '41 of New Canaan, Conn., retired president and chief executive officer of Lever Brothers and retired president and chief executive officer of International Executive Services Corps; Claude Hampton Jr. '48 of Salisbury, retired executive vice president of Nabisco Brands U.S.A.; Ralph W. Ketner of Salisbury, a founder and chairman emeritus of Food Lion, Inc. (formerly Food Town); Lynne Scott Safrit '80 of Kannapolis, president of Atlantic American Properties and president of Castle & Cooke, North Carolina; the late Adrian Shuford Jr. of Conover, and former Ketner School of Business Professor, the late Millard Wilson of Salisbury.  Catawba Alumnus Joey Popp '77 of Charlotte, a well-known television and radio personality, will serve as emcee for the event.

The Business Hall of Fame is a way to increase the visibility of the Ketner School of Business and to showcase its successful graduates and supporters. According to the Hall of Fame bylaws, candidates will be inducted annually and nominations are accepted, although the candidates must meet these criteria:

  •  A 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.

Tickets to Business Hall of Fame are $45 per person or $80 per couple. For tickets or more details, contact Cecilia Stach in the Ketner School of Business at (704) 637-4405.

This Year's Inductees
The late Julius Whitener (J.W.) Abernethy Sr. of Newton, N.C., a generous benefactor and member of the College Board of Trustees for more than three decades, used his substantial resources and influence to help spearhead facilities construction on campus. During his lifetime, he made and lost millions of dollars and amassed one of the largest fortunes in the Carolinas through the purchase of controlling interests in dozens of textile manufacturing companies, including Dan River Textiles, Inc., and Mooresville Mills.

While Julius Whitener Abernethy Sr. served on the Board of Trustees, the College was involved in an extensive building campaign. Abernethy was among a group of trustees who were the core of Catawba's financial support in those days and pledged themselves to contribute toward raising funds to construct a library, a science building, a larger gymnasium, and a community center, and to increase the college's endowment. In recognition of Abernethy's many contributions, several buildings on campus were named in his honor, including the Abernethy Physical Education Center and Abernethy Hall, a men's residence hall constructed in 1966 which stood on the site of the current Abernethy Village. Julius Whitener Abernethy, Sr. was a major contributor to Catawba's Omwake-Dearborn Chapel construction and when the Chapel was completed, it was dedicated to the glory of God and in honor of him.

Abernethy, although not a Catawba alumnus, was tied to the institution through his home church in Newton, Grace Reformed United Church of Christ. He died in 1978.

Thomas Carroll, retired president and chief executive officer of Lever Brothers and retired president and chief executive officer of International Executive Services Corps, is a 1941 alumnus of Catawba. A longtime member of the College Board of Trustees, Carroll chaired Catawba's Challenge Campaign in the late 1960s which raised funds for the institution's capital development program. He now serves as a trustee emeritus.

Born on the upper West Side of Manhattan, he was the youngest of six children. A football scholarship brought him to Catawba where he majored in math. He was drafted the year he graduated from Catawba and the Army Air Force sent him to MIT to study meteorology. He forecast weather from b-29s and flew with them over Germany and Japan. After his discharge, he attended the Harvard Graduate School of Business.

In the mid-1960s Carroll, who had been with Lever Brothers for 10 years leading his household products division, was tapped as president of the company, one of the big three makers of detergent and other household products. At that time the company's sales and profits were down and it was Carroll who led the company charge in the battle for the housewife's buck against Procter & Gamble and Colgate-Palmolive. Carroll knew the competition; he had worked for both competitors prior to joining Lever Brothers. It was Carroll who successfully argued to name a new Lever's product introduced in the 1960s Dove and advocated cents off promotions to increase sales volume and gain more shelf and display space.

Carroll retired from Lever in 1980 and then assumed the role of president and chief executive officer of International Executive Service Corps in 1982. He is now president emeritus of that company.

The father of five sons, he and wife Caroline make their home in New Canaan, Conn.

Claude B. Hampton, Jr., who was born in Newton and grew up in Statesville, served in the United States Air Force during World War II and was decorated with the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters. After his military service, he attended Catawba and earned a degree in business in 1948.

A year after his graduation from Catawba, Hampton joined Nabisco and 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 father of two adult children and two grandchildren.

Ralph W. Ketner, a native of Salisbury, was one of three men who founded Food Town Stores in 1957. Ketner today serves as chairman emeritus of that grocery store chain which has evolved into Food Lion, Inc. with more than 1,200 stores, mostly in the Southeast. A member of the Catawba Board of Trustees, Ketner was recently recognized as one of the people in North Carolina who had made a significant difference in the state during the 20th century with his founding of Food Lion.

When that company's sales were lagging in the 1960s, he came up with a novel approach to lower prices and increase sales, thereby propelling the chain to its current success. Ketner's concept was LFPINC, an acronym which stands for the Lowest Food Prices in North Carolina  He determined that it would better for the chain to make “five fast pennies rather than one slow nickel,” building its success on volume sales, rather than on per item profits. His autobiography, “Five Fast Pennies,” expounds on this concept and many others.

Although orphaned at age 11 when his grocer father, George Robert “Bob” Ketner died, Ketner learned early on lessons that served him well in business. He learned the value of thrift and hard work, that it is wrong to charge a price that is unfair or to shortchange a customer, and that if you give real value to customers and save them money, they will reward you with their business.

Ketner attended Tri-State University in Angola, Ind., earning a bachelor of science degree and an honorary doctorate in business administration. He worked as an accountant for Cannon Mills for several years before joining the Army and serving in Italy and Africa during World War II. After the war, he worked as an IRS agent, a N.C. Revenue agent, and later as a buyer for Winn-Dixie before launching his own grocery venture.

While business has been Ketner's professional focus, he has found many ways to share his business success with his community and has been active in professional and civic organizations, including N.C. 4-H, the Lions Club and Rotary Club. He and wife Anne are generous supporters of Nazareth's Children's Home and Catawba College. Ralph W. Ketner Hall houses the Ketner School of Business on Catawba's campus and Ketner Scholarships offered to Catawba students from the immediate area are the direct results of his financial support and shared vision about the importance of education.

Known by friends and colleagues as a mathematical genius, Ketner is the father of three adult children.

Lynne Scott Safrit, a native of Kannapolis, is president of Atlantic American Properties and president of Castle & Cooke, North Carolina. She is now involved in the biggest professional challenge of her career to date, serving as project manager for the much heralded and anticipated $1 billion North Carolina Research Campus in her hometown. The 350-acre research campus, a collaboration between Dole Food Company, developers Castle & Cooke, and the UNC system, is taking shape on the site of the former Cannon Mills/Pillowtex complex, where Safrit and both of her parents once worked and will provide an economic boom for the region.
Safrit graduated from Catawba in 1980 with a degree in English. She was working at Cannon Mills in employee relations in 1982, pursuing her master's degree in psychology from UNC-Charlotte, when she met billionaire David Murdock who purchased the textile giant. Four years later when Murdock sold the mill, but kept other assets, Safrit was one of the office staffers who continued in his employment. She became vice president of marketing for his local real estate interests and then president of that subsidiary several years later.

A modest woman without pretensions, Safrit is as comfortable in a board room as she is in the choir loft of her church. She sees her role in the research campus project as an opportunity to bring new life and much needed jobs to her hometown.

A member of Catawba College's Board of Trustees, she is also active in other civic and professional organizations. She is a member of the Cabarrus County Board of Realtors, the N.C. Board of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors. She has served on the boards of directors for the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Bank of the Carolinas and the Vision Council and has chaired the Cabarrus Economic Development Commission. She is active in the Arts Council, the Kannapolis Community Chorus, the Cabarrus Literacy Council and the Kannapolis Rotary Club.  She was honored by Catawba as the recipient of its O.B. Michael Award in 2001.

Safrit and husband, Walter Safrit II, are parents of two children, Elizabeth and Will.

The late Adrian L. Shuford, Jr. of Conover, N.C., was a retired textile executive and president of his own company, JAC Inc. until his death on December 30, 2000.

He was educated at Cornell University and the University of North Carolina. During Conover's early days, he worked with his family at Warlong Glove Manufacturing Co., Conover Knitting Co., and Conover's first Bank, Citizens Bank. A U.S. Naval officer in World War II, he also served as mayor of Conover and two terms as a N.C. state senator.

He was a member of the Catawba College Board of Trustees for more than 50 years, with his service beginning in 1944. He served as that board's secretary and as its president for more than 26 years. When College President Dr. Donald Dearborn died in 1967, he assumed a leadership role at the institution until that presidential void was filled.

His service and generosity to Catawba, as well as his family's, are legendary and commemorated in the names of various buildings on Catawba's campus, including the Shuford Science Building, Shuford Stadium and the Shuford School of Performing Arts. Catawba's most prestigious award, the Adrian L. Shuford, Jr. Award for Distinguished Service, is named in his memory and given annually to an individual who has served Catawba. A lifelong member and stalwart leader of Trinity United Church of Christ in Conover, Shuford's affiliation with Catawba helped keep intact historic ties between the UCC and the institution.

Shuford was the first president of the Newton-Conover Rotary and president of Shuford National Bank. He, with others, founded what is today the YMCA of Catawba Valley. He and his first wife, the late Dorothy Cilley Shuford, gave the property that is now the site of the Adrian L. Shuford Jr. YMC Conover branch. They also established the YMCA endowment fund. He also donated land to Hospice of Catawba County. Conover's town center exists today due to Shuford's generosity. He was honored by the Conover City Council the year before his death when it established the Adrian L. Shuford Jr. Conover Citizenship Award.

He was the father of two adopted children and a step-child and is survived by his second wife, Dorothy Lewis Griffith.

The late Dr. Millard F. Wilson, a native of Florida, served as chair of Catawba's Department of Business from 1948 through 1979 and during those three decades influenced the lives and business careers of hundreds of Catawba students. He died December 17, 1997.

A graduate of the University of Florida, he completed graduate work at Duke University. Prior to coming to Salisbury and joining the faculty of Catawba, he served as a principal of Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville, Fla.

Known as “Sunshine,” by his friends and colleagues, his students remember him as the professor who coached them to future success. Catawba business graduates recall Dr. Wilson's high standards. He required his students dress for success by wearing coats and ties to class, and he also required frequent oral presentations of his students to prepare them for future public speaking. He was gentle, but firm, dedicated and highly profession in his teaching. He stressed the development of interpersonal skills and was a strong advocate of the value and benefits of community service to his students. <

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