During the Reinhardt College Alumni Day on Oct. 6, Robert L. "Bob" McEntire '62 (third from left) was given the Alumnus of the Year Award and Thomas W. "Tom" Carter '61 (second from left) received the Alumni Loyalty Award from Reinhardt President Dr. J. Thomas Isherwood (left) and Alumni Board of Governors President Gene Norton '60.
Both alumni were appreciative of their awards and for the impact Reinhardt has made on their lives.
"It's very meaningful to receive an award like this," McEntire said. "I'm glad to have attended Reinhardt, and I can't think of too many things in my life that I reflect back on over the years that have been as meaningful as attending Reinhardt. It's always been a very important institution in my life."
Carter reminded the guests and fellow alumni of the value of the "Reinhardt experience."
"I think in general in the society that I live in today, that there is a great need for Reinhardt-type schools -- smaller colleges -- and what I call the 'Reinhardt experience,'" Carter said. "I don't know how to elaborate on it - you have to experience it. Maybe the two best years of my life were at Reinhardt. Reinhardt definitely was a big factor in my role in life. I do have emotional ties to Reinhardt, and it's a very special place in my life."
The Alumnus of the Year is selected for his or her personal and/or professional achievements. The award is based on an individual being distinguished in his of her business or professional career; for community service; for exhibiting exemplary faithfulness to Reinhardt; for demonstrated and propagated spirit of Reinhardt; and for demonstrated faith and moral character. The recipient of the Alumni Loyalty Award is chosen for his or her personal and financial support of the College.
A native of Murray County, Ga., McEntire attended Reinhardt in 1961 and 1962. He is a member of the Dalton (Ga.) Golf and Country Club and attends Rock Bridge Community Church in Dalton. McEntire is a former Reinhardt Trustee and member of the Dalton Elks Lodge. He and his wife, Jackie, have two children, Chad and Heather, and three granddaughters.
Several years ago, McEntire began a housing company in Nicaragua. He began to interact with young people who wanted to come to America to attend college. For some of those aspiring students, he made arrangements with their families, brought them to Reinhardt, and helped pay their tuition, room, board and living expenses.
McEntire began his career in the carpet business in 1972 as owner of Cumberland Carpets. He became a leader in the industry and 20 years later, started in his current position of owner/president of Extruded Fibers, Inc., one of the most modern and efficient carpet yarning extrusion operations in the world. McEntire continues to be one of the most respected leaders in the carpet industry.
Carter was born and raised in Loganville, Ga. He briefly attended The University of Georgia after high school but was uncomfortable at such a large school. With encouragement from his high school principal and pastor, Carter transferred to Reinhardt. After Reinhardt, he returned to UGA and earned a degree in education. Both of Carter's children attended Reinhardt and echo his statement that there is no substitute for the personal attention and family atmosphere that thrive on Reinhardt's campus.
Carter has been an active member of Reinhardt's Board of Trustees since 2004. He is also a current member of the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association, National Automobile Dealers Association, Walton County (Ga.) Chamber of Commerce, Loganville Area Chamber of Commerce and Walton County Agricultural Facility Advisory Committee. He serves as a director for the National Bank of Walton County and is a present member and former chairman of the Walton County Foundation. Carter spent 15 years as a member of the Walton County Hospital Authority and is extremely active at Grayson United Methodist Church, where he serves as usher team captain, Sunday School superintendent and trustee.
While teaching school in Griffin, Ga., Carter married his wife, Carolyn, and continued to dabble in the used car business, something that he started as a teenager. In 1969, he went into the automobile business full time and, over the span of the next three decades, owned several dealerships. He partially retired in 2003 and since that time has provided a car for Reinhardt President Dr. J. Thomas Isherwood.
This year's Alumni Day was tagged, "A Celebration of Presidential Legacies" with the College honoring alumni from the eras of four former Reinhardt presidents: Dr. Floyd A. Falany (1984-99), Dr. Allen O. Jernigan (1973-84), Dr. J.R. Burgess Jr. (1944-73) and Professor W.M. Bratton (1927-44). Prior to the dinner, Alumni Day included tours of the Waleska, Ga., campus, a reunion luncheon and a memorial service for longtime Reinhardt faculty member Judith R. MacMillan.
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