Former MOC head receives honorary alumni award
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 22, 2004 2:13 PM
MOUNT OLIVE -- This year's recipient of the Honorary Alumni Award was at Mount Olive College for half a century and never took a class.
"You haven't complained about cafeteria food," said Gary Barefoot, chairman of the alumni award recognition committee and former librarian at the college. "You did not win a scholarship ... you did not play a sport ... and you did not live in the dorm."
But, he added in presenting the award to former college president Burkette Raper, "any person who's been here for 50 years and contributed as Dr. Raper has done, deserves to be an alumnus."
Dr. Raper and his wife, Rose, were recognized for their service Saturday night as part of the college's homecoming weekend activities.
Raper was appointed president of the college in 1954 at the age of 26, making him the youngest college president in the country. During his tenure, he guided the college from a two-year to a four-year institution and oversaw the development of the current 138-acre campus.
He retired as president in 1995 after 40 years, earning him the distinction of being the longest tenured college president in the nation. He served as director of planned giving from 1995 until his retirement earlier this month.
Referred to as "Mr. and Mrs. Mount Olive College," the Rapers have six children, all of whom graduated from the college.
Their daughter Elizabeth, class of 1977, said the college, its building and its people have been an integral part of the family over the years.
"Mount Olive College was like another brother and sister to us," she said. "From the old downtown campus where we ate Sunday lunch in the cafeteria and danced around the May pole, to the new campus where we climbed each dirt pile that later became a new building, Mount Olive College was part of our everyday lives." Three other awards were presented during the ceremonies:
*The Rev. Frank Harrison, professor of religion emeritus, was named lifetime member of the alumni association. For 30 years, he served as campus minister, retiring in 2002. He has also pastored several Original Free Will Baptist Churches throughout his career.
*Kim Quinn of Kenansville received the Alumni Hall of Fame Award in recognition of contributions to the local and regional economy as owner and president of Prima Tech, a Duplin County-based organization that produces and distributes animal health delivery systems. Quinn graduated from Mount Olive in 1988 and serves on the school's board of trustees.
*The Distinguished Service Award went to James Alton Cowan, class of 1959. He has been an avid supporter of the college, said Alumni Director Dianne Riley. She said he has participated in numerous fund drives and been instrumental in the establishment of several endowments and scholarship funds to the college.
"Tell Your Story" was the weekend's theme. Other activities included a criminal justice seminar, golf tournament, Pickle Classic basketball tournament, art show, concert, and an alumni worship service.
A book of stories collected from students and staff will be published next year.
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