10/17/10 — College's alumni pick 2010 honorees

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College's alumni pick 2010 honorees

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 17, 2010 1:50 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Long after everyone else had eaten and headed off to the next event at Saturday's historic Mount Olive College Alumni Weekend, Dianne Riley finally had time to sit down and eat.

Ms. Riley had been busy dashing around the Lois K. Murphy Regional Center where close to 100 alumni representing classes from the 1950's to the present had been on hand for a reunion lunch.

The college's Alumni Weekend is normally held in conjunction with the annual Pickle Classic basketball in November. However, college officials have decided it deserves its own weekend. This weekend's event, that got under way Friday and continued through this morning, was the first breakout Alumni Weekend.

"We had a great number of the 50th class back last evening (Friday) and we had a good number this evening," said Mrs. Riley, director of alumni relations at the college. "We are going to have to see how the afternoon goes. Hopefully we will have another good group tomorrow (Sunday). We have heard different comments (about the change).

"We are excited about it. It is the first breakout and we think this is the beginning of something really big."

The weekend included a number of sporting events including women's volleyball, softball and soccer and men's soccer. Also new Saturday was a play area for children and a music festival. The day started early with a Cystic Fibrous Walk/Run held in memory of Jan Brewer.

Ms. Brewer was a student at the college in the 1980's when she succumbed to the disease. The proceeds are being used to fund a scholarship in memory of Ms. Brewer.

Saturday's lunch gave classmates an opportunity to catch up and share memories.

Retired Wayne County educators Johnny and Patricia Turnage were looking through the yearbooks from their time at the college comparing pictures at the lunch.

And like their classmates, they attributed Mount Olive College and its staff and faculty with making such an impact on their lives.

"(Former MOC president) Dr. (Burkette) Raper, who was my pastor back in Greene County, he is the one who brought me to Mount Olive," he said. "Mount Olive was a long ways from home. I had never been away from home and I came to this almost foreign country that was actually 30 miles from my home, but back then it was a fair distance.

"Thanks to people like Dr. Raper and (religion professor) Dr. (Michael) Pelt and others that were here they were the kind of mentoring, nurturing environment that really transformed my life and helped me in my life. I was blessed and what my biggest blessing through this college was my wife, Patricia. I met her here and we have been married 50 years (next year) and we are celebrating our 50th reunion here today."

Neither of the Turnages graduated from MOC -- after marriage they moved to Greenville and attended East Carolina University. They returned to Wayne County where they worked in the public schools system until their retirement.

"This is where I got started in my education," he said. "The memories and just to think how all of us got our start. Most of us had very similar backgrounds. We came from very poor situations back in the 1950's. Thanks to the people here and this college, it just gave us our start that we would not probably have had had it not been for Mount Olive College."

In the 1950's the campus consisted of the old graded school building on North Breazeale Avenue. The women's dorm was upstairs and the male students were "farmed out" to area homes in the community, he said.

Turnage said he would have never thought MOC would grow like it has.

Six alumni were honored Saturday night during the annual Alumni Awards Banquet in the Lois K. Murphy Regional Center.

Romey Lyndon McCoy of Raleigh, formerly of Cove City, was presented the Distinguished Service Award given in recognition of his achievements in his profession, community, church and in appreciation for his leadership, service, outreach to others, loyalty and committed support to Mount Olive College.

Carolyn Fader Hill of Raleigh, formerly of Kinston, received the Mount Olive College Traditional Alumni Hall of Fame Award. The award was given to Ms. Hill in recognition of her involvement in civic and community activities, as well as contributions to her profession.

The Mount Olive College Cohort Alumni Hall of Fame Award was presented to Tharesa Chadwick Lee of New Bern. The award was given to Ms. Lee in recognition of her volunteer leadership in civic, community and church organizations, and for bringing honor and respect to the Mount Olive College Alumni Association.

Brothers Michael Brent Williams and D. Keith Williams jointly received the Outstanding Young Alumni of the Year Award. The award was given in honor of the Williams' service and achievement to their profession as mentors, teachers and administrators.

Doug Anderson of Mount Olive was named Alumni Business Associate of the Year. The awardrecognizes a successful business which is led by a Mount Olive College alumnus.