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Wofford College Honors Justices; 260 Receive Diplomas

Sunday, May 19, 2002

SPARTANBURG, SC—Wofford College conferred honorary degrees on three of the five SC Supreme Court justices while presenting diplomas to about 260 graduates during its 148th commencement exercises on Sunday, May 19, 2002. The college also presented the prestigious Sullivan Awards to two students and two non-students.

College President Benjamin Dunlap addressed the students, faculty, staff and guests at the ceremony, held on the lawn of the historic Main Building.

The three justices honored are all graduates of Wofford. They were John H. Waller Jr. (Class of 1959), E.C. Burnett III (Class of 1964) and Costa M. Pleicones (Class of 1965).

The Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards were presented to Dannie R. Horne, founding executive director of TOTAL Ministries in Spartanburg, and Sara Wise, a graduating senior from Columbia, SC. The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards were given to Harold O. Hatcher, founder of Hatcher Garden and Woodland Preserve, and David Hoyle, a graduating senior from Shelby, NC.

Horne started TOTAL Ministries in 1983 and retired as director in 1998. The program is a coalition of local churches that help the area’s neediest citizens meet the most basic needs—food, clothing, medicine, home heating. Horne was involved with the organization’s predecessor, Emergency Assistance Taskforce (EAT) for its 17 months of existence. She also has served as a Mobile Meals volunteer. She is the wife of the Rev. Charles Horne, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Wise, a psychology major, was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa this spring and is president of the Wofford Chapter of the Blue Key National Honor Society. She is a dean’s list student and a member of Alpha Phi Omega service organization, Twin Towers, Presbyterian Student Association, Women’s Choir and Wofford Ambassadors. She is the daughter of Donald Wise and Tricia Ferguson.

Hatcher retired to Spartanburg in 1969 with his wife, Josephine, with a dream of creating a public greenspace. Their one-acre backyard has a 10-acre public garden that features perennial and annual flower displays, natural areas and woodland gardens, native plants, ponds and wildlife. It is located at 820 John B. White Sr. Boulevard (Reidville Road) in Spartanburg. At the age of 95, Hatcher remains active with that public greenspace, which was a gift from him to the community.

Hoyle, the son of Charlie and Jane Hoyle, is a religion and government major. He is a dean’s list student and is a member of the Blue Key National Honor Society. As a Bonner Scholar, he has made several trips to the Lakota Indian Reservation at White Horse, SD, where he has worked with local children and adults, teaching and building latrines and other structures. He also has worked at a New York state camp for children with AIDS and at the South Carolina state mental institute with high school-aged patients.

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.

Algernon Sydney Sullivan, born in Indiana in 1926, 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.”

While Justices Waller, Burnett and Pleicones majored in different subjects at Wofford, after their student days, their careers developed on parallel courses—service in the Army, law school at the University of South Carolina, private practice as attorneys-at-law, and election to the state judiciary by the General Assembly.

For the past several years, they have served together as three of the five justices of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Waller came to Wofford from Mullins, S.C. After graduation, he served in the Army for two years, and then completed the USC School of Law in 1963. He practiced law in Mullins and was elected to five terms in the state House of Representatives, where in 1975-76, he was the majority leader. After a term as a state senator, he became a circuit judge in 1980. He was seated on the state Supreme Court on June 29, 1994.

He was a charter member and first president of the Mullins Rotary Club and is active in other civic and fraternal organizations as well as Macedonia United Methodist Church. He is married to Debra Anne Meares Waller and is the father of four children—John H. Waller III, Melissa Waller Spearman, Ryan Meares Waller (Class of 2005) and Rand Ellis Waller.

After graduating from Wofford, Burnett served two years as an officer in the Army, a tour of duty that included a year of service in Vietnam. He then earned his J.D. at USC in 1969 and began the private practice of law in his native Spartanburg. In 1973 and 1974, he was a member of the state House of Representatives. Before being seated on the Supreme Court on April 10, 1995, he served successively as probate judge, family court judge and circuit judge.

Burnett is an elder at Mount Calvary Presbyterian Church. He is a life member of Sertoma International and winner of the organization’s Distinguished Honor Club President’s Award. He is married to Jami Grant Burnett. They have three children—E.C. Burnett IV, Sharon Burnett West and Jeffrey Burnett, and two grandchildren.

Pleicones, who grew up in Columbia, graduated from the USC Law School in 1968. He then served in the Army first as an enlisted member and as an officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He continued to serve in the Army Reserve until 1999. His practice of law included service as a public defender, municipal judge and county attorney. In 1991, he became a circuit judge and was seated on the Supreme Court on March 23, 2000. He is married to Donna Singletary. They have two daughters and one grandchild. He is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church.