Almon Edwin Spencer
Our thanks to Caroline Todd ’10, one of our interns, who wrote this biography of Dr. Spencer.
Dr. Almon Edwin Spencer was a beloved professor at Presbyterian College for fifty-four years. For many years his name and the name of the school were synonymous. One student once quoted Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in reference to Dr. Spencer:
His life was gentle,
And the elements so mixed in him
That nature might stand up and say to all the world
Here was a good man.
Such praise is hard to come by, especially from a student in regards to a teacher.
A.E. Spencer was born in Tuskegee, Alabama in 1867. He then moved to Pisgah, Kentucky, where he received high honors at his high school. He then went on to Centre College, where he received his B.A. in 1888. He graduated summa cum laude, and was awarded the foremost rank as a student. He received his M.A. in 1897. In 1914 Centre awarded Dr. Spencer with an honorary L.L.D.
Dr. Spencer came to Presbyterian College in September of 1891. He taught Greek and French and quickly become a very beloved member of the P.C. staff. During his time at P.C. he taught Greek to over 400 students who later became Presbyterian ministers. While at P.C. he wasn’t just a beloved teacher, he also was the acting president of the college at least twice (first from 1897 – 1904 and then again from 1910 – 1911). He also served as the Vice President of the college and the secretary /treasurer of the Board of Trustees. He was also a member of a number of professional societies, including the Classical Association of the Middle West and the South, the Modern Language Society of the South and the Classical Languages Society of the Southeast. He retired in 1945, after 54 years of service, and passed away at his Clinton home on July 20th 1946.
He was very active in the community as well. He was the president of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, a charter member of the local Kiwanis Club, and the Chancellor Commander of the Knights of Pythias. Dr. Spencer was very active in his church community, almost as active as he was in the P.C. and Clinton communities. He was an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Clinton, which the college’s founder, William Plumer Jacobs, served as pastor. Dr. Spencer was also the clerk of the session and served as Moderator of the South Carolina Presbytery and the Moderator of the Synod of South Carolina in 1914.
In honor of his service to P.C., the college named a dormitory after him in 1912.
The building cost a total of $27,500 dollars. There were many donors, but the two most recognized were Mrs. Cyrus McCormick of Chicago and Mrs. John Kennedy of New York, who both gave $5,000. The building was a brick building with Indiana limestone trimmings. It had four big columns with Corinthian capitals and stone steps in the front. The building was three stories high and could house 70 students. Each dorm room was made up of a study and a bedroom. These were connected to another bedroom and study room by a bathroom. A suite could house four students. There were 72 rooms in all (including bathrooms) and the building was equipped with electricity, sewage and steam heating. Sadly, the building was demolished in 1993 and replaced by the Harrington-Peachtree Building.However, although the building that bore his name no longer stands, Dr. Spencer’s contribution to Presbyerian College will never be forgotten.