Donor Stories

Most times in life, the experiences of the parents trickle down and influence the child. But sometimes the stream flows the opposite way and the experiences of the child have a great influence on the parent!

Such is the case with Belk Daughtridge, a double dipper at UNC (undergraduate and graduate), and his son, John (Clemson ’14). The first time Belk came to the school from his home in Charleston, he brought a group of young lads, including his son, up to football camp. There was a warm, fuzzy feeling that day when the parents of one boy had forgotten to register their son and the staff said, “No problem, we will take care of him.” That feeling was reinforced a few years later when, the very week young John was accepted into Clemson, there was an invitation to a “recruitment” dinner at which alumni and administration attempted to persuade all the accepted high school seniors that Clemson was the best place for them!

“The next perception I had of Clemson was when we came up for orientation and John knew so many people from around the state,” Belk recalled. “There were several kids he had played basketball and football with and against. I was amazed at how much time (the administration) spent working out John’s classes for the next two years of study. The organization and discipline of the people in charge of orientation came across when they said, ‘Here are your concerns as parents and as students . . . we’ll take care of them!’ They did break-out sessions four or five times during orientation. The big take-away was telling us, ‘Your kids will get out of here in four years, with a degree, an education and a job.’” Needless to say, Belk was impressed by what he experienced.

As the Clemson experience blossomed for John, Belk continued to notice the change in John’s development and his friendships. “I went to UNC, played lacrosse there, lettered there, was president of my fraternity and was in Naval ROTC. I have good memories from my time there. But the way I have seen my son’s friendships and his school loyalty evolve makes me realize that I don’t have that with my college friends from UNC. It is very inspiring. I see a bond of connectivity to the University that I envy. He has found lifelong friends. He has received a great education. He has formed a good ‘value compass’ during his tenure at Clemson. He is passionate about the University.”

John majored in business, with an emphasis in entrepreneurship, and is currently working for Oppenheimer Investments in Denver. And Belk continues to support Clemson. “I have been on several school boards in various states. I admire, appreciate and like the way things are going here with President Clements. I just want to help perpetuate the mystique that is unique to Clemson.”

With that in mind, Belk knew he had to do something. “Because of John’s experience and the ‘gift’ that my son has received at Clemson, I want to give back to the school and to those who come after him. As my dad told me, ‘Son, sometimes you gotta put your money where your mouth is!’ In this case, I wanted to put the money where my son’s heart is.

“The reason behind my bequest is the Clemson value system. You want a place where the kids in the state can have a chance to get better, to find a place where they can get character development, value development, spiritual development . . . that’s why I’m happy to be a part of the Clemson family.”

As a South Carolina native, Belk has seen the state’s economic disparity as it relates to income, population and opportunity. He knows something needs to be done. “Somewhere, generationally, things have to change . . . I don’t know if I can affect change on my own, but I know I can and need to perpetuate the values that I believe in. I think the values that are here (at Clemson) are the values that I believe in, embrace and aspire to. I want to reinvest and make sure that those values continue on for children from all walks of life in South Carolina.

“It will be interesting to see where your kids will be in ten years. Some of them may be captains of industry and some may be getting out of jail, but you have to lay the groundwork. The first foundation on values has to come from home, the second has to come from faith, the third is how they get educated.”

Belk continues, stating, “The foundation of values that I got in boarding school are the values that have carried me all my life. The values John got at his high school in Charleston were solid, but not as intense. When he got to Clemson, things got ratcheted up another level.”

With his gift and the gifts of people just like him, Belk believes that Clemson’s values, education and research will continue to pay dividends to the state, nation and beyond for the next hundred years. “My relatives, who live in North Carolina, always say that you (the state of South Carolina) shouldn’t have separated from us . . . we have Charlotte and the Research Triangle . . . now I can tell them, that’s nice, but we’ve got Clemson.” Spoken like a true believer.


Julia A. Herns has been a member of IPTAY for 40 years and a graduate of Clemson University for almost 50. She’s been a Tiger her whole life.

Julia’s father, Charles Kenneth Herns, came to Clemson – then Clemson A&M – in 1942, but after going home for the summer following his sophomore year, World War II had started. Instead of returning to Clemson, Charles, along with five of his friends, joined the U.S. Army. “He decided that it was the right thing to do to go ahead and enlist to protect our freedom,” Julia said.

Doing the right thing has become a way of life in the Herns family.

One of the places Charles was stationed for training before deploying overseas was Valdosta, Ga., where he met Jeane Amos, a student at Valdosta State College. When the war was over and Charles was being processed out of the Army, he and Jeane were married, and they moved back to Clemson for him to complete his education, sharing their first home as a married couple in a prefabricated home on the site of what is now Littlejohn Coliseum.

“My mother was as much of a Tiger as my dad was,” Julia said. “I guess because it was the first place they lived together really. My sister was born before my dad graduated, and the love was just born. And it continues.”

The Herns family moved to Charleston, living in a house Charles, who had finished in Mechanical Engineering, designed and built on Shem Creek. “It was like Tom Sawyer growing up,” Julia said, “and I was such a tomboy and loved the water and any kind of ball – baseball, basketball, tennis. Tennis was my favorite.”

But despite moving to Charleston, only one college was talked about in the Herns household. And when Julia graduated from Bishop England High School and it was time to go off to college, only one school made sense for a girl who had grown up going to grade school with Clemson stickers that had been mailed out to alumni such as Charles on her three-ring binder.

“I came in ’69, and my dad was just flabbergasted,” Julia recalls. “His saying was, ‘I always hoped I would have a son that went to Clemson, but I never dreamt I’d have a daughter …’ because, of course, it was all-military and all-male while he was here.”

That year, 1969, is also one of special historical significance to Clemson athletics, as it marked Frank Howard’s last as the Tigers’ football coach. One of Julia’s favorite memories of her days at Clemson remains a speech Howard gave at a pep rally the Thursday prior to the first football game of her freshman year in which he introduced the new freshmen to the Clemson way.

Julia recalls: “Frank Howard got up on stage at the amphitheater and he said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, this is Clemson, and we do things a special way here. We’re friendly and we’re a pedestrian campus, and by the time you finish here you’re going to know pretty much everybody. And I want you to start today. If you haven’t been doing it, when you pass somebody on campus, you speak and you smile or you tip your hat.’ And he tipped his hat, because he always wore a hat, and he said, ‘Because we’re friendly and this is family, and we want everyone to feel a part of the family.’ And from that point forward, that touched me the most.”

Julia finished Clemson in 1973 in Economics and went on to get her MBA, beginning a career that led from a pharmaceutical rep at Abbott Laboratories to a managerial position within the company and ultimately to being a Vice President for Sales in North America for technological giant IBM.

But wherever Herns’ career took her – from Dallas to St. Louis to Charlotte to Lexington, Ky. to Manhattan to Atlanta and finally back to Charleston – her love for Clemson remained. She kept up her season tickets for football and always flew back for at least two games a year, always the South Carolina game and usually Homecoming.

Now, Herns is giving back to Clemson, as a Planned Gift Donor with IPTAY. For her, she’s only doing what her father taught her to do: the right thing.

“We weren’t not rich, by any means,” Herns said. “My father was the first one to graduate from college in his family and so was my mother. So I don’t come from money at all. We’re talking middle class. And they worked hard, and they instilled in us that if you work for somebody, you give them a day’s work for a day’s pay. And it’s the right thing to do to give back. I think that if we all stop and think about it, that it is the right thing to do. Whether it’s $10 or $10,000 or $100,000, depending on what your situation is. This place is so special to my family and I’m so proud to have gone here and be a second-generation Clemson Tiger that I think it’s the right thing to do. And I’m not only doing it because I think it’s the right thing to do. I know my parents would be proud of me for doing it.”


They met in sixth grade and were friends throughout high school and college, but it wasn’t until after they both graduated from Clemson University that Ken (’81) and Layne (’81) Smith fell in love.

Choosing Clemson was easy for Ken. Growing up in nearby Greenville, he was able to attend Clemson football and basketball games early on, and his dad was an avid fan. Ken knew he wanted to major in engineering; so, coupled with the cost of out-of-state schools, Clemson was the obvious choice. Layne had different reasons in the beginning to help narrow her decision. “My older sister went to South Carolina and I knew I wanted to do something different,” she says. Layne’s family moved to Greenville in the early ’70s, so she gradually became a Clemson fan during high school because many of her friends were fans. She chose Clemson and has never regretted the decision.

During their time as students, Layne and Ken were both active in Greek life and, of course, attending Clemson athletic events. Memories of First Friday parades, bowl games, sorority and fraternity rush and Homecoming are still vivid. “Homecoming week was a lot of work . . . it was a lot of fun, but a lot of work,” Ken remembers. Coming in the middle of the semester when classes were in full swing, working day and night on the Sigma Phi Epsilon display always made Sunday night after Homecoming a challenge. Looking back and thinking, “How can I catch up on a week’s worth of work in one night?” is a sentiment to which generations of Clemson students can relate. “Students who can balance the fun, the challenges and stress, staying up all night, going to class, the tests, while delivering results . . . that’s a well-rounded person. So, in a strange way, it’s a little bit of life training.”

They should have graduated together in May of 1981. Layne did, but Ken wanted to pursue a Masters degree, so he remained a student through the fall of 1981, a magical time for all Clemson football fans. He decided a few weeks into the fall semester that he wanted to go to work instead, so he graduated in December and left Clemson on a National Championship high, attending the Orange Bowl soon after graduation.

As a sociology major, Layne knew she wanted to use her skills in sales. Finding a job after graduation was slow at first until she came back to Clemson for a job interview sponsored by the University. She landed a sales position for Xerox. “The classroom and social activities I experienced at Clemson provided an excellent foundation that paid off in sales,” reflects Layne. Ken used his contacts from his intern experience and started a job with J. E. Sirrine. While walking into a building to buy insurance soon after starting with Sirrine, Ken ran into Layne. They reconnected, started dating and got married in 1984.

The year 1986 was an eventful one for the Smiths. Ken decided to move into sales. They moved to Atlanta and Layne gave birth to their first daughter. Layne worked for Xerox right up to the delivery and then became a full-time mom.

A few years later, the family moved back to the Upstate, settling in Greer. Two more daughters followed soon after. In 1996, Ken accepted a position with Fluor. Six months into the new job, he was transferred to Cincinnati where they lived for almost three years before coming back to Greenville. Their three daughters, Kelly, Haley and Cameron are all Clemson graduates. Kelly also married a Clemson graduate, Chad Owens, in 2009. They have two future Tigers, Eli and Evan.

The ties and friendships Layne and Ken built while students continue to be important to them today, cementing the idea of a true Clemson family. Layne stays in close contact with her Chi Omega sisters, getting together every year for a girls’ weekend away. Ken stays in touch with many of his Sigma Phi Epsilon brothers and other friends. Supporting Clemson and IPTAY began soon after graduation, starting with their company’s matching donation program. Giving back has been a part of their Clemson DNA. Ken says, “A good friend from IPTAY told us early on . . . just start with what you can. Start and stay involved, and as your family and career expands, keep Clemson in your plans. This was good advice then and it holds true today.”

As their family became more involved with Clemson, it gave Ken and Layne even more reason to expand their support. This has continued not only in support of athletics, but the academics as well, opening up new perspectives to see the impact that gifts have on the University. Ken serves on the Clemson University Foundation Board; he is able to see first-hand the value of donations. “Clemson does an outstanding job of getting the most out of every dollar provided,” he says. “Whether it’s a college or a business, that’s what you look for.” Annual gifts are important, but planning for the future by remembering Clemson in their wills is also important to them. “It’s something that you can not only pass down to your family, but something that you can pass down to Clemson also.” You never know when you’re going to have that event that’s going to change your life . . . whether it’s after college or, in the case of Ken and Layne Smith, in the sixth grade.


When you think about the Clemson family, you usually think of someone with direct ties to the school, either going there themself or having family that has gone there. But that isn’t always the case. Sally Rowe visited Clemson for the first time in the early ’60s when she went with a church group to a football game. She was amazed at everything that was going on around her, but then life happened and she didn’t get back again . . . until 1998. And boy, how things had changed.

“I remember stopping at the top of the hill by the rock and just looking up at the stadium. I asked the people I was with if our seats were all the way at the top and they laughed and said not quite.”

Sally grew up in Mauldin, SC, then moved around until her family settled in Beaufort, SC, in the late ’60s. That’s when her life changed.

“We joined a church because everybody joined a church back then. The first day we went to the church, there was this boy sitting in the back row and he told his friend that he was going to ask that girl to go with him to the first football game. He did and it was love at first sight.” Phillip Rowe and Sally dated all through high school, before he was drafted and sent to fight in Vietnam. They got married when he returned from his tour of duty.

When he came back, Phillip was a paraplegic and spent the rest of his life in and out of hospitals and being cared for by people in the medical profession. Sally spent her time taking care of him too, developing a deep appreciation for those nurses who helped them on a daily basis. Sadly, Phillip died in 1996.

And that’s when her second family, the Clemson family, really came into her life. Starting with that return trip in 1998, more than 35 years in the making, Sally came to love Saturdays in Death Valley. Through tailgating, she met new, now longtime friends to share the experience. And a ritual was born.

“I wake up early on Friday mornings, pack the car and make that drive to Clemson, ready to stay with my friend, Carol Jo Henry. We had two parking spaces and two tailgates when we started, but now we have combined them to one giant tailgate. It really is my favorite part of coming up. Well, that and the Tigers running down the Hill.”

Now, Sally never misses a home game and has even gone to many of the away games. She also loves to catch other Tiger teams when they come down to the lower part of the state. Clemson Club meetings are a must, so she can catch up with what’s going on in Tigertown.

It’s because of all this activity that Sally really began thinking about what she could do for the University. With no children or other family members who really needed anything, she began to explore the possibilities of giving money to Clemson on a delayed basis. She knew that she wanted to give to IPTAY, but she also knew that, because of the care that her husband received, she wanted to help support the nursing program at Clemson.

“I just feel that, even though I never went to school here, it is a place that I consider my university. And that planning to support the school that I love after I’m gone just makes a lot of sense.”

After many conversations with Bert Henderson about a plan that works for her, Sally is now set. A way to give back, a way to support her Clemson family that makes sense now and in the future. Proving that family isn’t necessarily dependant on blood . . . unless it runs Orange.


Mills Makes Sure Insurance Keeps Working Even After He’s Gone

Floyd S. “Trey” Mills III clearly remembers the day he realized he wasn’t invincible.

Mills was 17 years old and played football, basketball and track. He had just spent a week at Palmetto Boys State, a leadership program for rising high school seniors, feeling terribly ill and thinking he had some kind of bug.

When he returned home, his aunt gave him a joking punch in the gut. The playful jab floored him – literally.Mills went to Lexington Medical Center in Columbia, where his mother, Patricia, was a nurse. He can vividly remember sitting in a waiting room and hearing her screams from down the hall after she saw the results of his blood tests.
“Run it again! Run it again!” she yelled.

Mills was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, and he spent 17 days in the hospital undergoing chemotherapy in June of 1995. It didn’t take long before his family’s insurance company started denying his claims.

“My bill was upward six figures at the hospital for 17 days of chemo and all that,” he said. “We had health insurance, and you’re wondering, ‘Why will they not pay anything? Why is my mom yelling on the phone with these people?’”

Fast forward to the present, and Mills is still fighting those battles. After graduating from Clemson University (’00, BS Marketing) and eventually law school at Mercer, he is now a partner at Trammell & Mills Law Firm in Anderson, S.C. The firm works to protect the rights of injury victims, primarily against their insurance companies.

“My family had to fight the insurance company to cover anything over $1,000 – and that’s while you’re dying of cancer,” he said. “That’s not something anybody should have to deal with. I figured I’d love to slay the insurance dragon as much as I could.”

While at Clemson, Mills was a student worker at IPTAY and became a Collegiate Club member in 1998. He has given to the IPTAY Annual Fund ever since, currently as a McFadden Donor, and says he plans to give more in the future.
In the meantime, Mills has found another way to make insurance companies work for him – by making an endowment through the University Foundation on a life insurance policy he got when he first joined his law firm.

“The endowment is through the Foundation,” he said, “but 50 percent is earmarked for IPTAY and then 50 percent is given to Tiger Brotherhood on the alumni side. On the gift-giving side, they can set you up from your will, from land assets to stock assets to life insurance assets. Any asset that comes from your wealth-building throughout your life can be transferred over at any point in time, that won’t even impact your family at the time, and it can move like a vehicle or a trust until such time as it would revert to the IPTAY planning.”

These days, Mills is able to make a bold proclamation: “Cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me.” He says it gave him a sense of purpose in his life. And while Mills spent many years thinking he wouldn’t live nearly this long – he turned 35 on April 24 and has had a clean bill of health since his freshman year at Clemson – the experience has left him keenly aware of the need to take care of the things he loves after he is gone.

After ensuring his family is taken care of, another way he has done that is through the endowment of a life insurance policy to Clemson University and IPTAY.

“You can do it through your 401k, 403, IRA, however you have it, but mine was through a life insurance policy,” Mills said. “I figured if I could get those people to pay out every bit of money even when I’m dead, I’ll just have a smile on my face as I’m taken to a higher power. It would just make me smile to know that those benefits that I was afforded and that would go to me, would come from an insurance company and go to the university.”


Longtime IPTAY Donor Credits Wife for Decision to “Do Something for Clemson”

Steve Pearce will be the first to tell you his wife, Priscilla, is the one blessed with the brains.

So, when Priscilla suggested he reconsider the structure of his will to make sure the charities that were important to him got something significant when he was gone, Steve knew she was on to something.

“We’re pretty much charitable givers; we do our share if we can,” Steve said. “But we had it spread so thin among a lot of little things, it really wasn’t going to help any of them very much.”

Steve had been an IPTAY member since the 1960s, but it wasn’t until years later he met Priscilla and they got a chance to share their love of Clemson.

Pearce grew up in Charleston and followed some of his high school pals to Clemson University in 1953. But after a couple of years, his father had a different plan.

“My daddy suggested after two years that I’d make a good Marine,” Pearce said. “In other words, I didn’t do very well. I
didn’t apply myself.”

After eight years in the Marines, Pearce never made it back to Clemson as a student, but instead returned to Charleston and went to work.

He worked as a credit adjuster, then a chemist’s assistant, then a salesman and then drove a gasoline tanker for a while.

On one of his deliveries with the tanker truck, Pearce noticed a customer had a small coin laundry adjacent to the gas station.

“It was just a little hut with probably six washers and three or four dryers,” he said. “I used to tease him about it and say, ‘You make any money with that, just getting a nickel here and quarter there once in awhile?’ And he’d say, ‘Oh, they pay for themselves.’”

That was the start of Pearce getting into the coin laundry business – completely by accident – and he soon opened up his first washerette. Then another. And another.

Pearce ended up taking over for the salesman from whom he bought his equipment and did well selling laundry equipment, and that eventually led to a distributorship with the company that made the equipment.

“We became the largest distributor in the United States of their products for six or seven years, which is kind of amazing because we were competing with California and New York and all these big states, and we were right here in little South Carolina,” Pearce said.

While Pearce never finished his studies at Clemson, a love for the school’s athletic teams, particularly football, was sparked during his time on campus.

Pearce’s passion for Clemson sports didn’t truly start to mature until he moved back to Belton to open his first coin laundry, and he joined IPTAY soon thereafter.

“I really don’t know what year I joined IPTAY – back when it was 10 dollars a year,” Pearce said. “Frank Howard was the coach back then.”

After he retired in 2000, Pearce began doing charity work at a church in Greenville, where he would help the pastor serve meals to the homeless on Sundays.

It was there that he met Priscilla, who also volunteered there and had graduated from Columbia College and gone on to get her Master’s Degree from Clemson.

“Priscilla is a genius in mathematics, literally,” Steve said.

After heading up the math department at the South Carolina Governor’s School, Priscilla eventually got her Doctorate in Theology and went into the Methodist ministry.

“God gave her a late calling in life, but she’s been good at everything she’s ever done,” Steve said.

The couple has been married 10 years now, and with Clemson being such a big part of both their lives – both before and after they met – Priscilla suggested to her husband he do something to give back to the school they love.

“She said, ‘Why don’t we think about some of the things in your will? You’ve got too many charities in there, and nobody is really getting enough of anything. Why don’t we eliminate a few of those and do something for Clemson?’” he recalled. “So, in my will is left to Clemson, I guess, a pretty substantial amount of money. I didn’t ask anything back, and I didn’t expect anything back. It’s just a way of saying thank you.”


Passion Leads Safrits to Leave a Legacy at Clemson

For Lee and Amy Safrit, it’s all about passion. It was a quality that Amy recognized in a young assistant football coach named Dabo Swinney the first time she met him at a ladies clinic at Clemson in 2006.

Amy couldn’t quite pronounce his name, but Lee recalls her coming home and telling him confidently, “He ought to be our head coach.”

Swinney did become the head coach at Clemson a few years later, of course, and the trademark enthusiasm that Amy quickly spotted has led the Tigers to three straight seasons of at least 10 wins for the first time in school history.

“I think it’s a testament to how she perceived his personality and his passion for Clemson University and his caring for his players,” Lee said.

It takes one to know one, the saying goes, and Amy was able to recognize Swinney’s passion because it is a quality she possesses herself. Her passion is nursing.

Amy had worked as a registered nurse in cardiovascular intensive care for years by the time she went back to school and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Clemson with her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2007. She is currently working on her master’s degree in order to put her experience as a nurse to even better use.

“To be able to sit there with somebody’s heart in your hands takes a special person,” Lee said.

Much like his wife, Lee knew what he wanted to do with his life long before he ever actually did it. Lee wanted to travel and he wanted to work in business.

He graduated from Clemson in 1994 with a degree in marketing, and these days he serves as Midwest Regional Manager in sales for Anderson Hardwood Floors.

“I absolutely love what I do now,” Lee said. “Finally I have a position that just doesn’t stress me out so much.”

Lee spent the majority of his career climbing the corporate ladder, serving as Brand Manager for Anderson at one point, but now has settled into a position that allowed him to move back to the Clemson area and have time at home with Amy.

That has allowed the couple, who met through mutual friends in 2005 and married four years later, to spend as much time as they possibly can doing what they love – rooting for the Tigers.

“As long as we’re not out of town or working, we go to every event,” Lee said. “We usually go to two or three away games each football season and bowl games, too.”

Lee began coming to Clemson football and basketball games when he was four years old with people from his church in Greenville, SC, who attended Clemson and were IPTAY donors.

“I became a Tiger really early, and I knew this is where I wanted to go to school,” Lee said.

Amy didn’t have the benefit of being indoctrinated into the Clemson family. In fact, she had to go against the tide in her own household.

Growing up in a family of University of South Carolina fans in Spartanburg, SC, Amy saw the Tigers win the 1981 National Championship in the Orange Bowl and was hooked.

“I was always a Clemson fan since I was small,” Amy said.

Since they became a couple, one of the Safrits’ favorite pastimes has been attending Clemson sporting events.
They have season tickets for football, basketball and baseball, and try to attend as many ancillary events as possible, such as Dabo’s All-In Ball and the Dabo Swinney Ladies Clinic.

The Safrits also support the Tigers in Olympic sports. When a Clemson team beats South Carolina, Lee makes a donation through the Clemson Fund in honor of that team’s head coach.

“I did it for (head volleyball coach) Jolene Hoover when they beat South Carolina; I did it for the tennis coach,” Lee said. “It’s important. You want to beat your rival.”

And Lee and Amy have made arrangements to make sure their support for Clemson continues long after they are gone.
“Our true connection, where we would like to leave our legacy, is with Clemson,” Lee said. “We know that without the support and without the funds, you don’t grow. And we want to lead by example.”

With no children and a passion for Clemson University, the Safrits have bequeathed their estate to support that passion through IPTAY’s Planned Giving department.

“The whole reason we’re doing what we’re doing is because we appreciate this university; we appreciate the athletics,” Lee said. “That gives us happiness. We are fans, sometimes fanatics. It’s so important to us. We live it and breathe it every day.”

And that’s what true passion is all about.


Qualities of a Life Well-Lived

Nicknames. People get them all the time, especially when they are young. Chunky, Froggy, Fish, Knee. Thankfully, most of them don’t last past school days. But sometimes, one of them sticks until the end. Jim Sanders had just such a nickname, “Jimbo.” Everybody who knew him knew him as Jimbo.

Perfect. No one is perfect, but for Claudia Sanders, Jim was the perfect husband. And before he was the perfect husband, he was a friend of her brother, who, along with Jim, was three years older than Claudia. Growing up in Gaffney, one block apart, Claudia said in the sixth grade that she was going to marry Jim, though it took him a little longer to make that jump. It wasn’t until Claudia started college that Jim asked her out on a date. After Jim finished Clemson in 1970 and Claudia finished Rollins College in 1973, they got married. When Jim died this past February, he and Claudia had been married 41 years, with three daughters and four grandchildren . . . as close to perfect as you could get.

Faith. Big Jim had enough for several people, a belief that he witnessed right up until the end. In his life, Jim knew that God was first, second was his family, third was his friends, fourth was “trying to use the resources God had given me to His glory and, if that was fourth, then, I guess, Clemson would be next, because every time the nurses started to take my blood, I would warn them that my blood would be orange.” A faith that helped inspire a love of his fellow man, especially his employees, and that love was returned in abundance.

Loyalty. Jim Sanders and his company, Sanders Brothers, were fiercely loyal to their employees. At one time, he had more than 1,000 of them. Many times he told his company chaplain, Col. Roy, “I probably won’t make a dime on the contract I signed today, but my employees are counting on me to put bread on their tables and I’m not about to let them down.” While visiting the various worksites, he would always ask the workers if they needed any help, genuinely caring for each of them – a quality that the employees really appreciated and that inspired loyalty in them.

Service. Many people can talk the talk, but Jim was one who walked the walk. Whether he was working for his church in Gaffney, one of the many organizations that he supported or IPTAY and Clemson, Jim lovedto serve. He would often cite the customer service calls of AT&T when talking about service, loving the way they always asked him “Is there anything else I can help you with today?” He lived that in his life, always asking what more he could do for somebody, for some organization, until everything was finished. He also wanted to make sure that no one ever forgot about the “Joes and Jennifers” of the world, because he knew that’s what the base was made of, whether it be for Clemson, IPTAY, a church or his company.

Legacy. When people move on to a different part of their life, other people will remember them for many different things. Jimbo Sanders was a shining example of this. His mentality was always to be genuinely considerate of every individual person with whom his life intersected. Jim’s philosophy, according to Claudia, was that you “always looked at someone who was working and serving, and treated them with kindness and respect and appreciation . . . appreciation for what they were doing.” His legacy is definitely felt at Clemson where he gave annually to athletics and academics, where he gave to capital campaigns and any other projects that might come up. As he told Col. Roy while preparing for the end, “I believe that God wants us to enjoy ourselves, and for me, it’s Clemson football, Clemson basketball or Clemson any kind of ball. I know it’s just a silly game, but you know what? It’s always ‘gooder’ to win.” Pretty good thoughts from a man known as Jimbo.


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