Thomas Grady Spires ’50

Thomas Grady Spires '50

Thomas Grady Spires, known to all simply as “Grady,” passed into glory peacefully at the age of 91 years on Tuesday, August 27, 2019, at The Residence at Riverbend in Ipswich.

In his final days, he was surrounded by family, who rejoice that Grady has gone home to be with the Savior that he loved so dearly and served faithfully his entire life. 

Grady was born in Miami, Florida, on June 6, 1928 to Alfred Clinton Spires and Mildred Evans Spires, the third of five siblings, the late Evans Spires, the late Clinton Spires, Eunice (Spires) Hoffman, and Mary (Spires) Rynd.

He met his wife, Marian Elizabeth White, of Schenectady, NY, at Penial Bible Conference, and were married on May 23, 1953. Later, after Marian’s death, Grady remarried to Catharina Swart of Beverly, on June 2, 2005. 

Grady graduated from Miami High School in 1946, then from Davidson College with an A.B. in 1950, then went on to study under eminent Reformed philosopher Cornelius van Til, earning a bachelor’s degree in Divinity from Westminster Seminary in 1953.

After Westminster, he moved to Boston, completing a Masters in Sacred Theology at Harvard Divinity School, and continued on in pursuit of a PhD, with graduate work at Free University of Amsterdam.

While in his doctorate program, he felt called to teaching in Christian higher education and started as a Professor of Philosophy at Gordon College in 1956. 

Grady continued to teach at Gordon for the next 42 years, becoming a beloved fixture at the school until his retirement in 1998. His roles at Gordon included not only professor but also department chair, academic advisor, faculty senate chair, professor for European Seminar, visiting professor at Daystar University in Kenya and much more; twice he was awarded Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award (1969, then again in 1998).

During his tenure at Gordon, he wrote a significant portion of his doctoral thesis – inspired by Dutch Reformed philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd – but tragically lost the thesis in an office fire at the college.

On May 26, 2005, Grady was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Westminster Seminary, honoring his incredible contributions to his field and his tenacious efforts to obtain his doctorate. 

Grady was known for his incredible warmth, his genuine joy, his vivacious smile and greeting, his infectious interest in all things philosophical and theological, his intellectual curiosity, and his well-grounded character and faith.

He was a true Renaissance man, often performing his famous “bottle-cap tap dance” at faculty talent shows, acting in many theatrical productions – both at Gordon and beyond – and singing and playing jazzy piano long into his older years, including for the residents of his retirement community.

He stayed active until well into his older years and he spoke Dutch, German, and also knew Greek and Hebrew as a result of his theological studies. 

Outside of life at Gordon, Grady was a founding elder of First Presbyterian Church North Shore, in Ipswich, where he served faithfully as an elder for many years and was an integral part of church life for over six decades.

He taught at Peniel Bible Conference – the place he met his wife Marian, a camp named after the place where Jacob encountered God in the Old Testament – in upstate New York for many summers, also becoming an indispensable part of that community.

He also gave his time to the C.S. Lewis Foundation, where he was a founding trustee, working to preserve Lewis’ legacy and his estate in England. 

Finally, Grady was a loving husband, father, and grandfather as well. He is preceded by his first wife, Marion (White) Spires, and survived by his second wife, Catharina (Swart) Spires.

He is also survived by his four children and their spouses: Karen (Spires) and John Capps of Flagstaff, AZ, Jo-Alice (Spires) and Ken Stockwell, of Danvers, Cindy (Spires) and Frank Purdy, of Hamilton, and Thomas Spires of Amesbury; 11 grandchildren, Krista, Nicole, Allison, Kayla, John Michael, Janel, Sarah, Josiah, Jennifer, Johanna, Jonathan and six great-grandchildren, Talia, Emmett, Lucas, Wyatt, Selah, and Rowan. 

A memorial service for Grady will take place on Saturday, September 28, 2019, at 2 pm in the First Presbyterian Church, 179 County Road, Ipswich. Family and friends are respectfully welcomed.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home of Ipswich.

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Copyright 2019, Salem News, The / CNHI, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

W. D. “Dave” Erwin ’50

 W. D. “Dave” Erwin died May 7, 2019. Dave was born in Honea Path, SC, son of Malcom and Inez Erwin, in 1929.

He was predeceased by his wife Alice “Mickey” Erwin, his son Pat M. Erwin, and his brother Malcom “Mack” Erwin. He is survived by his son William D. Erwin Jr. and five grandchildren, Catherine, Mary Dallas, Ryan, Lydia, and Marcus Erwin.

Dave graduated from Greenville High in 1946 and from Davidson College in 1950. He was employed in the Savings and Loan business for more than 30 years. After retirement, he worked part time with several Savings and Loans and Banks for 10 more years.

Dave became a member of First Presbyterian Church in 1936. He was a former Deacon, Church Treasurer, and President of the Men’s Bible Class. He was a former Board member of the YMCA, took cancer patients to the hospital, and delivered Meals on Wheels.

Dave’s first love was his family and second love was sports. He played football and basketball and coached County League football, Church basketball, and officiated football.

Dave had several great mentors growing up. They were B.T. Gault (Elementary Principal), George Mackey (Director of Rotary Boys Choir), Monk Mulligan (Director of YMCA Camp Greenville), coaches J. H. “Speedy” Spear and James “Slick” Moore. All had a great influence on him and kept Dave straight growing up.

Dave said, “My father had the greatest influence on me, and I tried my best to do the same for my family. I had the best – my wife, my father and mother, my two sons, and my brother. I don’t think anyone could have had a better life than me – growing up in Greenville and having the friends I had. I was certainly blessed. My visit on Earth is done – it’s time to move on to the welcoming arms of my Heavenly Father.”

Visitation will be held Friday, May 10, 2019, from 3:15 p.m. until 4:15 p.m. at Thomas McAfee Funeral Home, Downtown. The graveside service will be held at 4:30 p.m. at Springwood Cemetery.

Flowers will be accepted, or memorials may be made to Greenville High School Booster Club, 1 Vardry St., Greenville, SC 29601, or First Presbyterian Church, 200 W. Washington St., Greenville, SC 29601.

Condolences may be made to the family by visiting

Kenneth M. Ritchie ’50

Kenneth M. Ritchie, 91, of Wilmington, NC died Tuesday, December 11, 2018, in New Hanover Regional Medical Center. Mr. Ritchie was born in Stanly County on January 27, 1927, the son of the late Hugh S. and Mary H. Ritchie.

Mr. Ritchie was a graduate of Albemarle High School. He proudly served in the U.S. Navy during World War II as a radioman aboard the U.S.S. Stewart. He was a graduate of Davidson College and subsequently worked for Kaiser Agricultural Chemicals.<

He was a member of St. Andrews Covenant-Presbyterian Church. He enjoyed playing golf and took great pride in sharing his experiences in the Navy.<

Surviving are his daughters, Rita Ritchie Wolfe and husband, Jimmie of Calypso, NC and Kenna Ritchie Bullard and husband Glenn of Loris, SC; grandson, James Thomas Wolfe, Jr. and wife Kim of Calypso, NC; his two great-grandchildren, J.T. Wolfe and Katherine Wolfe of Calypso, NC who were the light of his life.

A graveside service will be held at 11am, Thursday, December 13, 2018, at Oleander Memorial Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the charity of one's choice.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

Copyright, 2018, StarNews, All Rights Reserved.

Charlton Kennedy Torrence, Jr. ’50

Charlton Torrence '51Charlton Kennedy Torrence, Jr. passed away peacefully on November 9, 2018.

Born in Gastonia on October 5, 1928, to Charlton Kennedy Torrence, Sr. and Marguerite Ring Torrence, his ancestors were among the earliest settlers in Gaston County. He embodied both their native Scots frugality and his own compassionate generosity and made a lasting impact on Gastonia and Gaston County.

Charlton graduated from Gastonia’s public school system, Darlington Prep School and Davidson College, where he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. He remembered with pride his 1945 pitching triumph in a 5-0 shutout against Shelby, who won the American Legion World Series that year.

He also pitched for Davidson from 1947-1951. Charlton joined the Navy Reserve in 1952, served aboard the USS Francis Robinson and was honorably discharged as a Lieutenant in 1955.

He began his career at Superior Yarn Mills, doing every job in the mill before becoming its VP and Treasurer. He continued in sales after Superior was sold to Clyde Fabrics which was sold to Textiles, Inc., (later Ti-Caro, Inc.) and then to Dixie Yarns. He was a member of Civitan in the late 50s, joined The Rotary Club of Gastonia in 2014 and was named a Paul Harris Fellow in 2015.

He was also awarded the Bud Schiele Lifetime Achievement plate in 2009 by the Schiele Museum and Planetarium, a proclamation of gratitude from Gastonia City Council and then-mayor John Bridgeman in 2016, and received the Community Foundation of Gaston County’s Alan H. Sims Award in 2017.

Charlton was married for 42 years to the love of his life, Mary Elizabeth Mason, who died in 1997. They married in June of 1955 and raised their 3 children in Gastonia. He was a member of Gaston Country Club and excelled on the golf course and tennis court, where he was so competitive that he was known as “Nasty” after popular tennis star Ilie Nastase.

He was a lifelong member and leader at First Presbyterian Church, serving as a Deacon and Elder and chairing numerous committees. He was instrumental in the creation of the church’s columbarium, and in commissioning “A Christian Witness: History of First Presbyterian Church, Gastonia” by Marion Ellis.

He loved his community and worked tirelessly to make things better for all. In addition to significant financial contributions, he generously gave his time and experience and became a vital part of those causes and organizations: First Presbyterian Church Gastonia, The Schiele Museum and Planetarium, Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, Gastonia Potter’s House, Crisis Assistance Ministry, and many others. Numerous individuals, churches and schools also benefited from the deep well of Charlton’s compassion.

Family was the center of Charlton’s life, and we are so grateful for every one of his 90 years on this earth. He and son Charlton III shared the same birthday and never missed a year of celebrating together. The most recent occasion was October 2018 at Pawley’s Island, a beloved vacation spot, often enjoyed with family and friends.

Charlton was preceded in death by his wife and parents and his sister Jean Marie Torrence, and is survived by daughters Elizabeth Ring Torrence Stafford (Billy) and Catherine Mason Torrence Giles, son Charlton Kennedy Torrence III – all of Gastonia – and granddaughters Sarah Elizabeth Giles Arnold (Sean) of Wasilla, Alaska and Meredith Torrence Giles of Charleston, South Carolina and their father, Christopher T. Giles of Gastonia.

He is also survived by his cousins Clay Vance Ring (d. November 17, 2018) and Ann Hall Ring Wauford, Ellen Larson Gray, Mary Gray Clouse, April Gray Rohrer, William M. Gray, George A. Gray III, Glenn L. Gray, Sally Gray Lovejoy, Nan K. White and James Tracy Ormand.

Charlton Torrence will be remembered as a quintessential Southern gentleman of kindness, integrity, and generosity, with a roguish twinkle in his eye and a deadpan sense of humor that caught people off guard. He was an endearing flirt and was always ready with a wink or a hug to brighten someone’s day. He was a humble man who much preferred to stay in the background, but, graciously allowed his name to be used in order to encourage philanthropy in others.

The family will welcome friends at a visitation from 3:00-4:30pm on Friday, November 30 in the Covenant Village Living Room.

There will also be a short visitation after the memorial service at 1:30pm on December 2nd, First Presbyterian Church, Gastonia before interment at Oakwood Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers or food, the family requests that memorials may be made to any of the organizations listed above to or the charity of your choice.

Condolence messages and remembrances may be shared online at

McLean Funeral Directors of Gastonia is serving the Torrence family.

Published in Gaston Gazette on Nov. 24, 2018

William Stokes “Billy” Houck, Jr. ’50

Billy Houck '50William Stokes “Billy” Houck, Jr., MD, passed away peacefully at home in Florence, SC, on Friday, November 2, 2018, just 6 days before his 89th birthday.

He was born on November 8, 1929, to the former Charlotte Weston and William Stokes Houck. He was raised in Florence and graduated in 1946 from Florence High School where he excelled in sports, particularly football and baseball.

He received his B.S. degree from Davidson College in 1950, and received his M.D. from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston in 1956.

After an internship with the St. Louis (MO) City Hospital during 1956-57, Billy married the former Ann Ward of Rock Hill on June 22, 1957.  Billy fulfilled a five-year residency at Duke University in 1962.

Shortly thereafter, he joined the US Army Medical Corps and served his country as a Captain and the Section Chief of Surgery based in Fort Leavenworth, KS.

During that time period, he completed his boards in General Surgery and Thoracic Surgery. He was discharged in December 1964 and spent one year in private practice in Richmond, VA.  He moved home to Florence in 1965 and began a practice in General, Thoracic, and Cardiovascular Surgery that would last until 1990.

Billy maintained memberships in a number of medical organizations, including the prestigious American College of Surgeons, and especially the Southern Surgical Association; he cherished the friendships he made with these doctors from throughout the southeast.

In 1977, he was given a faculty appointment at MUSC Clinical as an associate professor of surgery, and was elected as vice-president of the South Carolina State Board of Medical Examiners.

In 1986-87, he served as president of the SC Chapter of the American College of Surgeons, and was president of the South Carolina Surgical Society in 1988-89.

At the urging of his good friend and state representative Malloy McEachin, he ran for and won SC House Seat 63 in the fall of 1990, and represented Florence County as the only physician in the state House or Senate for two terms.

He spent his remaining 24 years enjoying his family and good friends, either playing golf at his beloved Florence Country Club with Joe, playing tennis with Tommy and Jimmy, catching fish at DeBordieu with Took and Lukie, watching the Gamecocks play football in Columbia with his boys and their Davidson buddies, tending to his greenhouse, or reading anything he could get his hands on.

Along with his parents, Billy was predeceased by his brother, the Honorable Charles Weston Houck.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Ann Ward Houck; their four children and spouses: Jacqueline Houck Borowicz and Eric Justin Borowicz (Greenville, SC), Dr. William Stokes Houck, III, and Betsy Hoffman Houck (Charlotte, NC), Robert Bates Houck and Shannon Stevenson Houck (Mount Pleasant, SC), Dr. Ward Vaughn Houck and Caroline Blackhurst Houck (Murphreesboro, TN); and fourteen grandchildren: Sarah, Kate, Emma, and Robert Borowicz; William IV, Lee, and Mary Houck; Charlotte and Ann Wallace Houck; and Megan, Klara, Isabel, Liam, and Scarlett Houck; nephew and niece, Charles Houck and Elizabeth Houck; as well as dozens of truly beloved in-laws in the extended Ward family of Rock Hill.

The family wishes to thank Agape Hospice Care and Tommy Porter who helped tremendously with Billy’s care in the last years of his life.

Funeral services will be 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, November 7, 2018, at First Presbyterian Church with burial following in Mount Hope Cemetery.  The family will receive friends from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, at Waters-Powell Funeral Home.

Memorials may be made to Agape Hospice, 1516 W. Palmetto St., Florence, SC  29501; or to First Presbyterian Church, 700 Park Ave., Florence, SC  29501; or to a charity of one’s choice.