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A Weekend to Reconnect, Reminisce, and Renew Friendships
A Weekend to Reconnect, Reminisce, and Renew Friendships

Lenoir-Rhyne recognizes Classes of 1969 and 1994; celebrates Battle of the Bears decade challenge

Hundreds of Bears gathered March 30 at Lenoir-Rhyne University's campus for Reunion Weekend 2019. Alumni celebrated milestone reunions for the Classes of 1969 and 1994.

Saturday morning events included breakfast, a memorial service, and classes that featured Dave Cole, associate head football coach, sharing about a historic season at LR, and Doug Knight, visiting assistant professor of physics, highlighting student rocketeers and the Bear Rocket Team. Also, Josh Ring, associate professor of chemistry, led an engaging discussion on chemistry in the kitchen, and Tunay Oguz, assistant professor of economics, discussed key concepts used by economists.

The capstone event of Reunion Weekend – the Bears for Life Luncheon –recognized notable individuals for their commitment of service to alumni, the University, and their communities.

During the luncheon, the Class of 1969 presented President Fred Whitt with their 50th Reunion class gift totaling more than $645,000. This is the largest gift ever raised by a reunion class and a new record for the University.

Whitt thanked the class for their generosity and their loyalty to LR. "On behalf of the LR faculty, staff, and students, we express sincere appreciation for your support of the University," he said. "The Class of 1969 is helping to raise LR to an even higher level of excellence through their investment in our community."

The celebration continued as five notable alumni were honored for outstanding achievement in service to their professions, the University, and their communities.

Tony A. Underwood '88 was presented the Clarence L. Pugh Distinguished Alumnus/a Award for his recognition of prominence in his career field while adhering to the founding principles of education and Christian character at LR. Underwood served in law enforcement for 26 years until his retirement. Since 2016, he has served as the chief communications officer for the Union County Sheriff's Office.

Katherine Ferguson McKenzie '69 was awarded the Opal L. Moretz Service Award: Service to the Community in recognition of her contributions to the community that have had a lasting impact through exceptional service. During McKenzie's tenure as a banking executive, she was a chief negotiator on 19 bank acquisitions and successfully led each without litigation. McKenzie continues to volunteer and enjoys her retirement in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Dr. Eddie Lee Beard Jr. '85 received the Opal L. Moretz Service Award: Service to the University for his contributions to the University that have exemplified the spirit, values, and excellence of LR. For more than 30 years, Beard has been committed to the health care industry and currently serves as president and chief executive officer of Catawba Valley Medical Center. Under his leadership, CVMC was the 32nd hospital in the United States to receive Magnet recognition in 2001 and received their fourth recognition in 2015. Magnet designation is the gold standard for the nursing service within a hospital. Five percent of hospitals in the United States have received this recognition one time; only 1 percent has received the award three or more times.

Steve Richter '87 accepted the Opal L. Moretz Service Award: Service to the Alumni Association to recognize his exceptional leadership, devotion, and service for the betterment of the Alumni Association. For more than 30 years, Richter has worked in property management and association management. In 1994, he started a real estate management company and then an association management company in 2004. He is also the founding member of the Northern Virginia Chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers.

Steven D. Corriveau '10 received the Rising Star Young Alumnus Award for his demonstration of outstanding achievement that positively represents the University, and inspires students and other recent graduates, to excel in their work. Corriveau started his legal career with the office of the North Carolina Attorney General, where he worked primarily defending the state of North Carolina in workers' compensation cases. In May 2015, he joined Martin & Jones where he represents injured workers. Corriveau has been recognized as a Best Lawyer in America 2019 and a Rising Star 2019.

Also at the luncheon, the decade with the highest participation by March 26, 2019, was named Battle of the Bears Champions. The Battle of the Bears challenge determines which decade has the most alumni make a gift to the Fund for Lenoir-Rhyne, LR's annual giving fund that provides support for all areas of campus. In repeat fashion, the 1950s decade won honors at Reunion Weekend with the highest alumni participation rate. Miriam Davis '59 from Conover, North Carolina, accepted the award on behalf of the 1950s decade, and University President Dr. Fred Whitt praised the decade for unwavering loyalty to LR.

The battle focused on participation – not on dollars raised. Below are the results of each decade's participation percentage.

  • 1950-59 – 28% percent participation
  • 1960-69 – 23% percent participation
  • 1970-79 – 16% percent participation
  • 1980-89 – 9% percent participation
  • 1990-99 – 6% percent participation
  • 2000-18 – 3% percent participation

With this Battle of the Bears challenge, LR raised $3,002,255 from alumni to date in fiscal year 2019 to support current and prospective students.

"Thanks to the impressive support from the LR community, the Battle of the Bears decade challenge surpassed the previous year's donations," Whitt said. "Our alumni and supporters are incredible. You make LR the unique community that it is, and you make all of us proud to be Bears."

Although the campaign ended, gifts can still be made online at lr.edu/IGive2LRU.

Editor's Note: Reunion Weekend Alumni Award recipients are pictured left to right: Dr. Eddie Lee Beard Jr. '85, Opal L. Moretz Service Award: Service to the University; Katherine Ferguson McKenzie '69, Opal L. Moretz Service Award: Service to the Community; Tony A. Underwood '88, Clarence L. Pugh Distinguished Alumnus/a Award; Steven D. Corriveau '10, Rising Star Young Alumnus Award; and Steve Richter '87, Opal L. Moretz Service Award: Service to the Alumni Association.

Photo by Mikeala Skelton, Lenoir-Rhyne University