Presbyterian College celebrated a lasting legacy of love and loyalty Thursday at the dedication of the Butch ’60 and Brenda Woodward Lobby in the Smith Administration Building.
The late Butch Woodward, who passed away last July at the age of 86, served his beloved alma mater as director of alumni relations after a long and successful career as a stockbroker with Merrill Lynch. He was later a college Board of Trustees member and the 2003 Mary F. Lehman Alumni Service Award recipient.
The Woodwards have been stalwart philanthropic supporters of PC over the years – their gifts ranging from scholarships to major construction projects. Their latest gift funded renovations to Smith, including all new flooring, paint, and furniture.
PC president Dr. Matthew vandenBerg thanked the Woodward family for transforming the college’s “front door” into a more welcoming and modern space for visitors, students, faculty, and staff. He said Woodward’s legacy at PC exemplifies the oft-remembered phrase, “We stand on the shoulders of giants.”
“Your support of and your belief in PC have all made an immeasurable impact on this community and you are a vital part of the PC family,” vandenBerg said. “It’s our hope that this dedication of the Butch and Brenda Woodward Lobby will serve as a fitting tribute to the legacy that you all have built here and will also inspire others to have an equally significant impact on Presbyterian College.”
Former PC trustee and family friend Tommy Lawson ’71 shared several personal anecdotes illustrating Butch Woodward’s love of PC and dedication to serving others. Lawson said the Graniteville native worked several years in local cotton mills to raise money for college but struggled to come up with enough to attend – until he met Ed Campbell ’50. Campbell came up with the funds Butch needed to attend PC and never forgot how one act of generosity can change the course of someone’s life.
“Butch felt like Presbyterian College was taking a risk to accept him,” Lawson said. “He always talked about the risks the college sometimes takes in the admissions process. But I think about him and how it really was an easy decision. Anyone who is committed to work and is committed to building relationships – anyone who wants to serve fits in remarkably well.”
Over many years of friendship, Lawson said he witnessed the Woodwards go on mission trips, work on Habitat Houses – and always share his love of PC.
“Butch always talked about PC,” he said. “He was the best ambassador for the college I’ve ever seen. It was always nice to see and hear him talk to younger people about what PC meant to him. He felt it was his duty to pay forward through his work and contributions and what he said about the college far more than he ever received.”
The Woodwards’ oldest son, Rob, said he and his brother have many fond memories of their dad’s alma mater, including Bronze Derby football games on Thanksgiving Day and meeting legendary Blue Hose coach Cally Gault. But, like Lawson, it was the chance meeting of a young man and a college admissions officer that the family will never forget.
“It not only changed his life and my mother’s life, but entire future generations of our family are changed by that decision,” Rob Woodward said. “He never forgot that, so his way of paying it back was to remind us that when we have the capability and opportunity, we can help other people change their lives for years to come also.”
Russell Woodward said after the dedication that while it is sad that his father was not there to see the renovations, it is heartening to know that PC found a fitting way to remember him.
“I think it’s good to have a permanent reminder, not for us, but for everyone to know he was dedicated to Presbyterian College for his entire life,” he said. “It brought my parents together and set out family on a trajectory we’ve all benefitted from. So, I think he’d be happy and he’d be proud. I know we are.”
Brenda Woodward agreed. She said her late husband would be thrilled knowing he influenced first impressions of his beloved PC.
“He would probably say this is best award he’s ever gotten,” she said. “That would mean more to him than anything.”