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Sullivan Awards presented to students, community leaders

Sunday, May 16, 2004

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Two Spartanburg community leaders and two Wofford College students were presented the Mary Mildred Sullivan and Algernon Sydney Sullivan awards during the college’s commencement on Sunday, May 16.

Wofford College is one of about 50 colleges and universities, most of them in the South, authorized to present the Algernon Sydney Sullivan and Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards. The recipients, a graduating senior and a non-student, are named and the awards presented annually during spring commencement ceremonies.

Dr. Sheila S. Breitweiser, president of the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, and Dr. Clay H. Turner, rector of the Episcopal Church of the Advent, received the non-student awards, while graduating seniors Elizabeth A. (Beth) Byars of Columbia, S.C., and Robert E. Tibbetts of Leesville, S.C., also were recognized.

Breitweiser has been president at SCSDB since 1996, coming to Spartanburg from the Governor Morehead School at the North Carolina School for the Blind. She has implemented numerous education programs to improve student academics and arts performance. Under her leadership, student achievement has increased and SCSDB has been recognized as one of the top performing schools in the state.

Breitweiser has forged innovative partnerships with state agencies and other organizations, including Wofford, creating programs to provide high-quality services for individuals who are deaf or blind. More than $17 million for capital projects at SCSDB have been generated under her leadership, for projects such as a new student dormitory, renovation of the historic Walker Hall, safety improvements and new playground equipment.

Volunteer activities for Breitweiser include her being a member of the Mary Black Foundation Board of Trustees and the Spartanburg Lions Club, and is a Spartanburg County Foundation Scholar Program mentor. She is the head of the S.C. Agency Directors Organization and chairwoman of the Assistive Technology Executive Committee. She is the recipient of a number of awards, including the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine and the National Federation of the Blind of S.C. Distinguished Service Award. She also was named the Professional of the Year by the S.C. Association for the Rehabilitation and Education of the Blind and Visually Impaired. She was named Spartanburg Business Women’s Club Career Woman of the Year in 1998-99.

Breitweiser is a graduate of Marywood College in Scranton, Pa., and received her master’s in special education and doctorate in education administration from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. She and her husband, Bob, have three children and four grandchildren.

Turner has been rector at the Church of the Advent since 1990, coming to Spartanburg from Roanoke, Va. He also has served churches in Statesville, N.C., and Rocky Mount, N.C.

Turner is a founding member of the board of the St. Luke’s Free Medical Clinic and serves as the pastoral services director. He is co-chairman of the Stop the Violence Coalition, a member of the steering committee of Spartanburg County Health Assessment, member of the board of Black Achievers, chairman of the comprehensive health committee for Spartanburg County School District 7, and a member of the Spartanburg Regional Medical Center Heart Board. A board member of the Rotary Club of Spartanburg, he was named the organization’s Citizen of the Year in 1996.

A graduate of Southern Methodist University and Duke Divinity School, Turner studied at the Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Mass., and received his doctor of ministry degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is a member of Bishop and Council for the Diocese of Upper South Carolina; is a board member of York Place, Cathedral College, Ecclesiastical Court and Dean Eastern Deanery; and is head of examining chaplains and member of the Commission on Ministry for the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia.

He is a member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and the Association of Couples in Marriage Enrichment.

A native of Mobile, Ala., Turner and his wife, Jane Rollins Turner, have three sons, Craig, Todd and Keith, and five grandchildren.

Elizabeth A (Beth) Byars, an English major, was inducted into the Wofford College Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa this year. She is a Frank F. Roberts Scholar, recipient of the S.C. Independent Colleges and Universities’ Sterling Lee Smith Scholar, a dean’s list student, a Campus Union delegate, a Wofford Ambassador and feature editor of the Old Gold & Black student newspaper. She is a member of Blue Key National Honor Fraternity and Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society. She is a participant in the 2004 Presidential Seminar. She was a member of the Senior Order of Gnomes and received a “Heart of a Terrier” Leadership Award at the 2004 Spring Honors Day. She is the daughter of Dennis and Barbara Bracey of Columbia, S.C., and Andy Byars of Columbia.

Robert E. Tibbetts was inducted into the Wofford College Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa this year. He is a dean’s list student and member of the men’s soccer team. A history major, he also is a member of the Twin Towers student volunteer organization and a member of the Blue Key National Honor Fraternity. He served as Chief Junior Marshal at Commencement 2003. He received the department of history award, the David Duncan Wallace Award, and a “Heart of a Terrier” Leadership Award at the 2004 Spring Honors Day. He is the son of William and Cherie Tibbetts of Leesville, S.C.

Tibbetts also was named the Wofford College Class of 2004 Honor Graduate, recognizing him as the graduating senior with the highest grade point ratio.

Algernon Sydney Sullivan, born in Indiana in 1826, rose to success in New York City as a respected lawyer and a man who “reached out both hands in constant helpfulness” to others. The award bearing his name was established in 1925 by a Sullivan Memorial Committee and the New York Southern Society, which Sullivan had served as its first president. The award seeks to perpetuate the excellence of character and humanitarian service of Sullivan by recognizing and honoring such qualities in others.

The Mary Mildred Sullivan Award was created in 1940 by the New York chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy to honor those who demonstrate the “spirit of helpfulness and an awareness of the beauty and value of the intangible elements of life.”