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Three honored by Alumni Association during Homecoming 2004

Thursday, October 21, 2004

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The Wofford College National Alumni Association honored two graduates and a friend to the college on Oct. 16, during Homecoming Weekend 2004 activities.

James Blair, Class of 1983, executive director of the Miller Child Development Center in San Antonio, Tex., received the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. Receiving the Young Alumnus of the Year Award was Russell Raines, Class of 1993, a health care executive and a prominent community volunteer in Texas and South Carolina. Tad Brown, executive director of the Watson-Brown Foundation in Thomson, Ga., was recognized with the Distinguished Citizen Award.

Blair came to Wofford from Hayes High School in Birmingham, Ala., and became one of the most outstanding basketball players in Wofford history. His #44 playing jersey was retired in 1983, and in 1994, he was inducted into the Athletics Hall of Fame. Returning to Birmingham in 1991, he became the executive director of the Caring Helps Another Make Progress (CHAMP), a special program for at-risk, inner-city middle and high school youth in the same neighborhood where Blair grew up.

Since 1993, Blair has been the executive director of the Miller Child Development Center in San Antonio. He has worked tirelessly to improve the early childhood education curriculum and to provide mothers and fathers with specialized training in parenting. He has been particularly successful in forming partnerships with the Junior League, San Antonio Area Foundation, Frost National Bank, IBM, AT&T, Fort Sam Houston and Kelly Air Force Base and other entities. Based firmly on the philosophy that “love makes all the difference,” the center is considered a national model.

Blair and his wife, Shawana, have five children, Telica, Shamia, Clayton, Lindsey and Jasmine. They are leaders in their church, Second Baptist, and Blair’s community involvement includes Omega Psi Phi fraternity and 100 Black Men of America.

After completing his graduate degree, Russell Raines became an administrative fellow at Texoma Medical Center in Dallas, Tex. His work in establishing a comprehensive medical, surgical, and dental facility along with a network of physicians and hospitals to care for the uninsured resulted in the hospital receiving the 1999-2000 Texas Hospital Association Excellence in Community Service Award.

Raines, who returned to Spartanburg in 2001 and now lives in Inman, S.C., formerly was an administrator with Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. He attends First Baptist North Spartanburg, is vice chairman of Mobile Meals of Spartanburg, and serves in several other civic organizations.

Active supporters of Wofford for many years, Raines and members of his family made a significant financial contribution in 2003 to make possible a link between the campuses of the Spartanburg Regional Medical Center and the college that is called “The Liberty Trail.” Included in that project is a signature water feature, “The James R. Gross Cascading Steps.”

Following in the footsteps of his distinguished grandfather, the late Walter J. Brown of Spartanburg, Tad Brown has made significant contributions to improving the quality of life in the Upstate, and across the South. After his graduation from Florida State University, his early career was spent as an executive in Spartan Radiocasting Co., which included Spartanburg’s WSPA radio and television stations, noted for public service leadership and news coverage in a highly competitive and fast-growing market.

After the family sold its interests in the mass communications business several years ago, Brown became head of the Watson-Brown Foundation in Thomson, Ga. In addition to operating several house museums, the foundation awards the majority of grants to programs, usually associated with the humanities, within colleges and universities and publications by scholarly presses. Areas of interest include history, literature, law, agricultural education and historic preservation. Wofford is the beneficiary of dozens of Watson-Brown Scholarships as well as a $1.4 million grant for the restoration of historic Leonard Auditorium in Main Building, which will begin this winter.