Ava Spencer, Former First Lady of Davidson College

Ava Spencer, Former First Lady of Davidson College

Ava Clayton Clark Spencer of Davidson, N.C., beloved wife and steadfast partner of the late Samuel R. Spencer Jr., died on August 20, 2019. She was 94 years old.

A woman of extraordinary intellect and broad education, Ava was one of the seven children of Dr. Frank E. Clark and Ava Clark. She was born on February 25, 1925, in Grundy, Virginia, where her father, a Presbyterian minister, served as a “domestic missionary” in this rural area, founding the Presbyterian School for local children.

Her father’s work as a minister and her mother’s as a teacher instilled in Ava a profound sense of the value of education. Always a brilliant student, she completed high school at age 15 and entered Virginia Intermont College before transferring to Mary Washington College.

In May of 1944, after graduating from Mary Washington, Ava began working at Oak Ridge, Tenn., as staff support for the Manhattan Project, the top-secret development of the atomic bomb that ended World War II.

Then came two years of graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where Ava was the first woman to teach a course at the Wharton School, as an instructor in political science. Her studies at Penn led to a one-year visiting fellowship in the Government Department at Harvard. That’s when a chance meeting changed the course of her life.

At a tea hosted by the Harvard Presbyterian Chaplain in February 1948, Ava met Sam Spencer, a World War II veteran in Army Intelligence who attended Harvard on the GI bill and completed his doctorate in American Social History. After their first date, a lecture by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, Sam told his roommate to start looking for someone new to share quarters.

“Why?” the roommate asked.

“Because I just met the girl I’m going to marry,” Sam said.

On August 28, 1948, Ava and Sam Spencer were married in Abingdon. They spent the next 65 years together, until Sam’s death on October 16, 2013.

That marriage also meant a choice for Ava, who turned down a fellowship to study the nature of radical politics in Chile in pursuit of her Ph.D.

After the birth of their first son, Samuel Reid Spencer III, in April of 1950, Sam and Ava moved to Davidson, where Sam served as assistant to President John Cunningham and later as Dean of Students. Their early years together in Davidson brought the addition of daughters Ellen Blakeney Spencer and Ava Clayton Spencer.

In 1957, they moved to Staunton, Virginia, where Sam served as President of Mary Baldwin College until 1968. Years later, Mary Baldwin dedicated the Samuel & Ava Spencer Center for Civic & Global Engagement, aptly recognizing Ava’s role in a partnership that helped elevate the stature of the small women’s college in the Valley of Virginia.

A second son, Frank Clark Spencer, was born in September of 1960. During the summers of their tenure at Mary Baldwin, Sam and Ava regularly led Brownell Tours of college students to Europe, including their own children in the exposure to different countries and cultures.

In 1968. Sam and Ava and their children returned to Davidson, where Sam served as president for 15 years, with Ava as the consummate partner in the intellectual life of the college and the architect of the warm and generous hospitality of the President’s House.

In 1983 their journey together took them to Richmond and the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges and ultimately back to Davidson in 1988, first to a house on Lorimer Road—the same street on which they lived when they first came to Davidson in 1951—and finally to The Pines, the retirement home they had helped to found years earlier.

In 2009, a gift to Davidson from close friends Marcus and Carole Weinstein established the Spencer-Weinstein Center for Community and Justice, honoring the service, leadership, and generosity of both couples.

The marriage of Ava and Sam Spencer was the essence of unwavering love and respect, a perfect blend of two human beings ideally suited to each other. Straightforward and practical on the one hand, Ava also possessed a ready wit and a mischievous sense of humor. But her special gifts were the kindness and love she gave freely to any willing recipient.

After Sam’s death in 2013, Ava lived with determined independence, remarkable courage and unquenchable spirit until her own passing in August.

Ava is survived by children Samuel Reid Spencer III (Candice), Ellen Henschen (Gary), Clayton Spencer and Frank Spencer (Melanie); grandchildren Samuel Reid IV and James Spencer, Josef (Susan), Sam and Elizabeth Henschen, Will (Mariah) and Ava Carter, Aly Spencer (Brian Zakutansky) and Clark Spencer (Jenifer); great-grandchildren Spencer Henschen and Sam Zakutansky.

Ava Spencer was pre-deceased by husband Sam Spencer; brothers Frank Clark and Blake Clark; and sisters Caroline Stuart, Margaret Tiffany, Katherine Clark, and Eloise Clark.

A service will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 14, at Davidson College Presbyterian Church.

Memorial gifts may be made to the following:

Spencer-Weinstein Center for Community and Justice
Davidson College
Box 7170
Davidson NC 28035-7170

Clark Scholars
Union Presbyterian Seminary
3401 Brook Rd.
Richmond VA 23227

Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement
Mary Baldwin University
PO Box 1500
Staunton VA 24402

Mount David Named Scholars
In memory of Sam and Ava Spencer
c/o Sarah Pearson
Bates College
2 Andrews Road
Lewiston, ME 04240

Former Trustee Isaiah Tidwell

Former Trustee Isaiah Tidwell

FEBRUARY 13, 1945 ~ AUGUST 4, 2019 

Services Friday, August 9, 2019 11 AM Friendship Baptist Church 80 Walnut Street SW Atlanta Rev. Dr.  Richard Wills, Sr., Pastor, Officiating Private Interment

Omega Services for Omega Psi Phi Fraternity will be Thursday, August 8, 2019 6 PM – 8 PM at Friendship Baptist Church. 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published this piece in honor of Mr. Tidwell’s service. https://www.ajc.com/news/local-obituaries/isaiah-tidwell-served-more-than-atlanta/xHDF55N5R4d4UfRHlDvQZP/

BOV Member Joan Huntley

Dr. Joan Huntley of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, age 88, died on August 5, 2019 at North Carolina Memorial Hospital following a sudden illness. 

Born in Melrose, Massachusetts, Dr. Huntley was a graduate of Mary Washington College (AB, 1953) and received an MPH degree from the University of Virginia in 1962.  After working as a research assistant at Harvard University School of Public Health and Yale University School of Medicine, she pursued further graduate studies in public health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, from which she received a PhD degree in 1970. 

For the next several years, Dr. Huntley taught and conducted research in the UNC School of Public Health and was promoted to Associate Professor, with tenure, in 1975.  Her career then took her to Washington, D.C. where she was a division director in the National Institute on Aging (part of the National Institutes of Health) until retiring to Chapel Hill in 1990. 

In addition to being a member of numerous professional associations, she served as president of the UNC School of Public Health Alumni Association and vice-president of the UNC School of Public Health Foundation.  Dr. Huntley was awarded the H.A. Tyroler Distinguished Alumni Award by the UNC School of Public Health in recognition of the substantial impact she had over her career on the field of epidemiology.  She was the author of numerous scientific articles published in professional journals.

Dr. Huntley was a world traveler and an avid collector of antiques and eighteenth and nineteenth century French paintings.   As an art lover, she enthusiastically supported the North Carolina Museum of Art by serving as a member of the Museum’s board of trustees.  She also provided support to NCMA for the establishment of the Joan and Robert Huntley Gallery and has promised to the museum a valuable collection of Barbizon paintings to be displayed in the Huntley Gallery.

Prior to his passing, Joan and Robert Huntley spent much of their retirement together traveling the world,  when they were not traveling, they enjoyed each other’s company and the serenity of nature in the private escape of their cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  While in this area, Joan became interested in the Ash Lawn Opera in Charlottesville, Virginia where she was a member of the Board of Directors. In more recent years, she enjoyed spending time with friends and colleagues in Charlottesville, VA, as well as Padua, Italy.  Joan always treasured experiencing local art and culture and continued to do so up until her passing.

Dr. Huntley was preceded in death by her husband, Robert Ross Huntley, M.D., a family physician who served as founding chairman of the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine.  The Huntleys were generous donors to numerous organizations in North Carolina.  In addition to their donations to the NC Museum of Art, they contributed to the Morehead Foundation, Ackland Art Museum, and Davidson College. 

Joan was devoted to her late husband Robert Huntley, Class of 1949, who first introduced her to Davidson College.  She wholeheartedly embraced its purpose, people, and principles, serving as a lifetime member of the Board of Visitors and a founding member of the Art Collection Advisory Committee. Her legacy lives on in the college’s permanent collection and campus sculpture program.

In 2004 Dr. Huntley established an on-going, annual visiting professorship for the UNC School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine in memory of her husband.

Surviving relatives include a niece, Elizabeth Dinsmore Nolan of Darien, Connecticut; a nephew, Paul Dinsmore of Los Angeles, California; three stepdaughters —Julia Mehalik of Leland, North Carolina, Katherine Ponton of Warrenton, North Carolina, and Elizabeth Weide of Bend, Oregon; and a stepson, Jeff Huntley of Woodbridge, Virginia.

A graveside service will be held for the immediate family at Old Chapel Hill Cemetery and a memorial service is scheduled for September.  In lieu of flowers please send donations to the NC Museum of Art, The Ackland Museum of Art, Davidson College or the Morehead Planetarium.

 “Joan Huntley’s commitment to Carolina, from the Ackland to public health, medicine and beyond, was extraordinary.  For many, she was a gateway to the university, welcoming them to this incredible place and making them feel at home.  Her passion for educating our students, encouraging collaboration, and taking care of people in Chapel Hill was inspiring.  The impact of Joan’s generosity, support and love for this university will be felt for decades to come.”  – Interim Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz

“Joan Huntley was a Gillings doctoral student who returned to get her PhD after she had worked in the field of aging for some time.  She was an adjunct faculty member, a respected epidemiologist who focused on issues of aging and worked for the National Institute of Aging,  and a member of the Public Health Foundation Board, generous in her wisdom and contributions to the School.  Dr. Huntley always took a pan-university perspective.  She loved many parts of this university and the larger community.  She was a patron of the arts and was as comfortable talking about a painting as about an aging study.  Her renowned Christmas parties were a great example of her broad network.  She came to our May Foundation meeting as an emeritus board member and joined in an active discussion about how one of our faculty intended to measure cognition in older adults.  We will miss Joan very much.”  – Barbara K Rimer, Dr. PH, Dean Alumni Distinguished Professor – UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health 

The Huntley family is under the care of Walker’s Funeral Home of Chapel Hill.  Please express your online condolence by using the tab below.

Leland Park ’63, Director Emeritus of the College Library

Leland Madison Park, Ph.D., 77, died on Wednesday, February 13, 2019, at The Pines at Davidson. He was born October 21, 1941, in Orlando, Florida, to Rebecca Leland Park and Arthur Harris Park, who provided his earliest example of civic engagement.

A 1959 graduate of the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tennessee, he entered Davidson College in 1959. Often referring to Davidson as a “way of life based on things of the mind, tempered by manners and morality,” Dr. Park quickly made Davidson the way of his life after his graduation in 1963.

Apart from Army service and acquiring advanced degrees from Emory and from Florida State, and a stint on the staff of what was then called the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, Dr. Park devoted the rest of his life to Davidson College.

“Devoted” is, indeed, the right word. When he retired in 2006, Dr. Park concluded nearly 40 years of service as Director of the Library – the third person in Davidson’s history to hold that position. He also was the Library’s most entertaining and authoritative reference source. He welcomed many generations of students, faculty, and staff with presentations of Davidson’s history and with emphasis on the most enduring and admirable of its values and traditions.

He also welcomed new presidents and others with tours beyond campus. As Carol E. Quillen, Davidson’s current president relates, “Leland gave me a tour of the town, complete with a history of who had lived in each house for the past fifty years and some pretty incredible stories.”  Others might add that the “incredible stories” were always seasoned with anecdote and, when appropriate, spiced with gossip. 

Like any master storyteller, Dr. Park told stories with a point: he sought to make newcomers welcome and to lead them to find the best in both the past and present of what had become his chosen home.

As Dr. Quillen notes, Park’s stories were “punctuated by his joy-filled, one-of-a-kind laugh.”  That laugh led to free tickets to comedies in the early days of the Davidson Community Players; his joyful laughter could help bring together the Davidson community beyond the campus boundaries.

One of the leaders instrumental in preserving the town’s branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg library, and a supporter of many other community efforts, Dr. Park was honored in 2011 by the Town of Davidson with its G. Jackson Burney Community Service award, which he treasured perhaps even more than the state’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine bestowed on him at the time of his 2006 retirement – because the award from Davidson represented the mutual devotion of a person and his chosen community.   

Having no children of his own, Dr. Park leaves many heirs: friends and colleagues, to be sure, but first and foremost the students for whom both colleges and libraries exist. Dr. Clark Ross, former Dean of the Faculty, has described Dr. Park as a “supportive, but candid, adviser and friend” to everyone from entering first-years to experienced presidents.

He advised countless students over the years, either officially or unofficially, and was an enthusiastic supporter of Wildcat basketball. In 2007, a group of alumni whom he had influenced established a scholarship in his name. At least one former advisee gave his son the middle name “Madison” in tribute to Dr. Leland Madison Park. 

Park will be remembered as a gateway and a bridge to the institution he loved, whether for students attempting to navigate scholarly life or new staff and faculty enjoying a tour of campus led by one of the few people who could gracefully walk the path between the college’s past and present.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Leland M. Park Scholarship, Davidson College, Box 7170, Davidson, NC 28035-7170, and to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 115 W. 7th St., Charlotte, NC 28202.

A service to celebrate the life of Leland Park will be held at 4 p.m. in the sanctuary of Davidson College Presbyterian Church on Sunday, February 17, with a reception to follow in the Lilly Family Gallery.

Former Trustee B. Franklin Skinner IV

Former Trustee B. Franklin Skinner IVBenjamin Franklin Skinner IV, corporate executive, active civic leader, beloved father and grandfather, died at age 87 on Friday, November 16, 2018, in Atlanta following a long and valiant battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Frank was born in Covington, Virginia to the Reverend B. Franklin Skinner and Charlotte Walton Skinner. He was a graduate of the University of Richmond where he was active in student affairs. A natural leader, he was elected president of the student government.

Upon graduation, Frank joined the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company of Virginia in Richmond as a staff assistant, thus beginning what would become a 40-year career in the telecommunications industry.

Shortly after joining the C&P Telephone Company, he was called to serve in the United States Army during The Korean War.

After a two-year tour of duty, Frank returned to Richmond to resume his work at C&P. There, he met and married the former Ruth Ann Gee on what he always called the best day of his life. They enjoyed an extraordinarily happy marriage of 52 years until her death in 2008.

Frank’s career took him to assignments in Washington, DC, Roanoke, Virginia, Charlotte, North Carolina, Miami, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia. He was elected president of Southern Bell on February 1, 1982.

He retired at the end of 1992 as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BellSouth Telecommunications. Wherever his assignments took him, Frank involved himself in local community initiatives giving generously of his time, his talents and his considerable energy.

He had the unique distinction of leading as General Campaign Chairman of the United Way in three major cities—Atlanta, Miami, and Charlotte.

Long associated with the Salvation Army, Frank was a Life Member and past Chairman of its National Advisory Board. He was honored with election as a life member of the Salvation Army, was awarded the Others Award and was inducted into the Order of Distinguished Auxiliary Service, the highest recognition the Salvation Army can give a lay person.

Frank served on the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce in each of the cities in which he lived. He served as chairman in Atlanta. He served as Chairman of the Board of Central Atlanta Progress and as a Trustee of the Metropolitan Atlanta Community Foundation and the J. M. Tull Charitable Foundation, Inc.

He also chaired the United Negro College Fund Campaign. He served as a commissioner on the Atlanta Housing Authority Board, was a past president of the Rotary Club of Atlanta and held leadership positions in a number of other organizations.

Frank’s keen interest in education was clearly evidenced by his service as a trustee of several colleges and universities. He was a Trustee of Morehouse College, Davidson College, The University of Richmond, Gardner-Webb College and Columbia Theological Seminary. Frank served as Executive in Residence at the University of Richmond Business School.

He was also a trustee and past board chairman of the Charlotte Latin School. Frank had a strong desire to become part of each community in which he lived, he served on the Board of Directors of several corporations including BellSouth Telecommunications and its parent company BellSouth.

He also served on the Board of Nations Bank, The Barclays American Corporation, Interstate /Johnson Lane, Southeast Bank and Shoney’s. Frank Skinner received honorary doctorate degrees from The University of Richmond, Jacksonville University, Morehouse College, and the Interdenominational Theological Center.

He also received awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award of Christians and Jews, the Blanchard Award for Ethical Leadership, The Turknett Leadership Character Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Service Above Self Award given by the Atlanta Rotary. He was named one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians and was admitted to the Hall of Fame of Influential Georgians.

He was past president of the Telephone Pioneers of America, one of the world’s largest volunteer associations of industrial employees. He was a past president of the Rotary Club of Atlanta and also a member of the Orange Bowl Committee and the Florida Council of 100.

Frank Skinner was a man with a deep faith and a love for the church. He was an active member and an Elder at Peachtree Presbyterian Church.

Frank was defined by his unwavering integrity, by his strong work ethic, and by his heart for serving others. He loved words, both spoken and written, and had the gift of using them to inspire, to motivate, to teach and to encourage.

Frank’s excellence in the community and business sector was legendary but it was his role as husband, father, and grandfather that was exceptional.

He showered his family with his immeasurable love, with his abundant wisdom and his unending generosity and with his delightful sense of humor. His blue eyes twinkled with warmth and kindness. He was happiest when “all of the feet were under the dining room table”.

Frank Skinner was predeceased by his wife Ruth Ann and by his daughter Lisa.

He is survived by his daughters Ruthanne Suttles and Christian Kirkland and his son-in-law John Kirkland.

He is also survived by his grandchildren Mackenzie and Molly Suttles and Tyler, John, and McKay Kirkland. Memorial contributions may be made to the Music Ministry of the Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.

A memorial service will be held at Peachtree Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, November 21, 2018, at 1:00 p.m. followed by a celebration reception in the Williams Center.