Grubbs family has strong ties to Mount Olive College
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 17, 2006 2:03 AM
MOUNT OLIVE -- Mention the last name Grubbs to students or staff connected to Mount Olive College and there's likely to be a hint of recognition.
That's because over the last 50 years, 20 members of the family have attended or represented the school in some capacity.
It all started with patriarch Herman Grubbs, who became a student there in 1959. After his death in 1974, wife Lillian enrolled in the one-year business program to prepare to re-enter the workforce and support the family.
All eight of the couple's children have attended the college, as have three spouses and seven grandchildren, two of whom are currently students. And in the midst of it all, Mrs. Grubbs has been working at the college since 1978.
Five of the Grubbs' six sons are ordained ministers serving Original Free Will Baptist churches around the state - Adrian, now 62, lives in Deep Run; Harry, 60, in Ayden; Leon, 58, in Kinston; Frank, 54, in Smithfield; Paul, 52, in Elizabeth City. The sixth son, Darrell, 56, is a retired school principal.
Of the two daughters, Muriel Overman, 53, is in the nursing profession, living in Havelock and Sandy Sasser, 50, who lives in Goldsboro, is currently in the mission field with her husband in Cambodia.
There are also 18 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren, Mrs. Grubbs said.
The family's affiliation with the college began nearly five decades ago, when the Grubbs met Dr. Burkette Raper, now-retired president of Mount Olive College, in 1958 at a state convention in Florida. The conversation prompted the couple to consider relocating.
To do so meant first securing a job for Grubbs, a mail carrier at the time. In that era, though, Mrs. Grubbs said, they would not let carriers simply move from one place to another, so he had to find someone willing to make the trade.
"After we talked with Dr. Raper at that convention, (Herman) wanted me to write a letter and see if there was anybody up there that was willing to move to Florida," she said.
Unsuccessful at first, she later received a letter from a Goldsboro man prepared to move south. After gaining approval from the postmasters, plans were made to move.
The notion was met with mixed reactions from relatives.
"A lot of (Herman's) relatives down there thought we were crazy to move up here, this far away from home. But we prayed about it, we talked about it," she said.
The most surprising response came from their children.
"A couple of years before that, there was a church over in the panhandle of Florida that called him to be a pastor. We talked about moving there, but none of the children wanted him to move. When we started talking about coming up here, none of them objected," she said. "The Lord's the only one that could have worked it out like that."
Grubbs took afternoon and evening ministerial classes at the college, working days for the post office until his retirement in 1973. He also pastored several churches, the last one in Plymouth, until his death in 1974.
Having been a stay-at-home mom throughout her married life, Mrs. Grubbs said she was not equipped for a job when she became a widow. Dr. Raper talked with her about coming to Mount Olive as a student.
"I had thought about it a little bit. I had to do something," she said. "I had to get a job and go to work."
She enrolled in the one-year business program, attending with her two youngest children, Paul and Sandy. At that time, Mount Olive was a two-year college.
"Paul and I graduated at the same time, him with a two-year degree and me with a one-year degree," she said.
The family has continued to support their alma mater. Eldest son Adrian currently serves on the MOC Board of Trustees. Two of Paul's sons, Matthew and Andrew, are currently a senior and freshman, respectively.
Mrs. Grubbs said the legacy all began with one simple dream her husband had, that their children receive a Christian education. Having the Free Will Baptist scholarships assist with financial aid was a bonus.
"It's meant a lot to us. I know it's meant a lot to me to come here," she said, adding that the additional family tie is "something to be proud of, and I don't use that word a lot.
"I'm proud of every one of them. Every one of them have turned out good."
At 83 years old, Mrs. Grubbs has seen a lot of changes to the world and its people. Likewise, she can attest to many changes at Mount Olive College.
When the family first arrived to the area nearly 50 years ago, she said the downtown campus was all Mount Olive College had.
"It has really grown since I have been here. It's about to outgrow itself," she said. "They're adding so many different programs, it's just really spread out."
Leon Grubbs said his family's relationship with the college and Dr. Raper has been a blessing.
"Mom and Dad really had a dream of giving their children an opportunity to attend a Christian-related college. For all of us to have attended and to have a second generation go through is a great experience," he said.
"It's a dream come true for my dad especially. My mom is still here to enjoy that dream."
He said it has been wonderful to witness the changes at the college, much like those of his family, over the years.
"I look at our family, we have grown and expanded. I kind of look at the college as growing in that same way," he said.
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