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Reinhardt University Honors Special Alumni and Friends at the Talon Awards Gala on April 23, 2015

Approximately 175 Reinhardt University friends – alumni, trustees, faculty, staff and students – gathered for the Talon Awards Gala on Thursday, April 23, 2015. Together they honored 16 individuals at the black-tie optional event at the Falany Performing Arts Center on Reinhardt’s campus in Waleska, Ga.

JoEllen Bell Wilson ’61, vice president for advancement, emceed the affair, and she thanked SEI Investments, the presenting sponsor, for their generous support.  “Their gift will allow Reinhardt to use more of the ticket proceeds toward scholarship funds for deserving students,” she said. “In addition to recognizing some very special people, enjoying musical and theatrical performances by exceptionally talented Reinhardt students and sharing a delicious meal, we also raised funds for scholarships. What a lovely evening!”

Distinguished Alumni of the Year: Marguerite Thigpen Cline ’58

Alumnus of the Year Marguerite Thigpen Cline ’58 (center) enjoyed having her family members with her:  daughter-in-law Anne Cline from left, son Dr. Joel Cline '90, daughter Cindy Cline Moore '83, Marguerite, daughter-in-law Camille “Millie” Warren Cline '95, and son John Cline.
Alumnus of the Year Marguerite Thigpen Cline ’58 (center) enjoyed having her family members with her:  daughter-in-law Anne Cline from left, son Dr. Joel Cline '90, daughter Cindy Cline Moore '83, Marguerite, daughter-in-law Camille “Millie” Warren Cline '95, and son John Cline.

Marguerite Thigpen Cline ’58 was named Distinguished Alumni of the Year. This award recognizes an individual with outstanding personal achievement and an unselfish and dedicated personal devotion to Reinhardt. Kathy Bouyett, director of alumni giving and relations, presented the honor of the 2014 Distinguished Alumna of the Year to Cline.

“When I look back to that day in Sparta High School when a teacher asked me to pick up a card that had fallen between the aisles in our classroom, I picked it up and read, ‘if you want to know more about Reinhardt College, write your name and address here,’” said Cline. “I looked to see if it needed a stamp…it did not, so I mailed it in. Little did I know from that moment my life would change forever.

“After my husband died, I did a lot of thinking about what I wanted to do next. Our children were born here, and the Cline family had welcomed me in and were as much as family to me as the Thigpen Family. The City of Waleska had welcomed me in, so I decided to stay right here. My children were some of the youngest on campus. They learned to ride their bikes here. They learned to swim in what was the college pool. My life is so intertwined with Waleska and Reinhardt, and I can never thank them enough for what they have done for me.”

After graduating from Reinhardt in 1958, Cline earned Bachelor of Science and a Masters degrees from North Georgia College and a Specialist in Education degree from West Georgia College. She became a resident of Waleska, Ga., when she married native Joe Ben Cline. Mrs. Cline and her late husband are parents to three children: Cindy, Joel and John were born and raised in Waleska, and they have six grandchildren.

Cline began her career in Education as an elementary school teacher.  he taught for 20 years at Clayton, Hickory Flat, R.M. Moore and Canton Elementary Schools. She served as an Assistant Superintendent of Schools before she was elected as the first woman Superintendent of Schools, serving for eight years. She has been a partner with Dobbs and Cline Consultants, an adjunct professor for Brenau University, and an instructional consultant for North Georgia RESA. She was the first woman elected as Mayor for the City of Waleska, a position she held for 14 years.

In her spare time, she served as the on-air host and producer of the television program, “Cherokee Profiles.” Cline has written three books: “I’ve Been Thinking,” “I’ve Been Thinking, Book Two,” and “The Glory Years of WCHK.” Presently, you can find her writing work in a weekly column for the Cherokee Tribune newspaper.

Cline has been an involved member of the community, serving Reinhardt as the First Chair of the A DAY FOR REINHARDT Campaign and President of the Alumni Board of Governors. She is a current Reinhardt Ambassador and served as a member of the search committee which brought to Reinhardt Dr. Kina Mallard as the 20th President.

She is a Commissioner for the Cherokee County Jury Board, has served as Chair of the Cherokee County Municipal Association and as a Board Member of the Cherokee Co. Parks & Recreation Commission, Cherokee County Arts Council, the Cherokee County Historical Association and the Atlanta Regional Commission. She was Chair of the Founding Board of the Cherokee County Sports Hall of Fame. Cline was the first woman elected to serve as Chair of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce.

Cline is currently a member and Deacon of Heritage Baptist Fellowship Church and was a long-time member of Waleska Baptist Church.  She served for 40 years as Organist for these churches.

Field House Named for Reinhardt's President and First Lady, Dr. J. Thomas and Bettye Jo Isherwood

Field House to be named for retiring president Dr. J. Thomas Isherwood and Bettye Jo, his wife.
Board of Trustees Chair William "Billy" G. Hasty, Jr. ’67 (left) announces that Reinhardt's field house will be named for the University's retiring president, Dr. J. Thomas Isherwood (right), and Bettye Jo, his wife.
Reinhardt Board of Trustees Chair William G. “Billy” Hasty, Jr. ’67 made a special announcement.  “It is my honor to recognize Dr. Thomas Isherwood, 19th President of Reinhardt University and his wife, Mrs. Bettye Jo Isherwood,” said Hasty. “Dr. Tom Isherwood came to Reinhardt in 2002.  He has overseen much growth and positive change. He has been a leader with vision, passion, skill, and confidence.”

Hasty explained that during Isherwood’s almost 13 years of service, Reinhardt has increased from 17 to 44 programs of study, increased the number of full-time faculty from 54 to 82, added 6 graduate degrees, developed on-line study, founded the Public Safety Institute and Police Academy, created the School of Performing Arts and launched the Convocation of Artists and Scholars.

Under Isherwood’s leadership, 45 million dollars has been raised for students during this decade;  athletic teams increased from 10 to 19, an athletic field house was constructed and lights added to the baseball and softball fields and hiking and bike trails and camp grounds were created.

“In 2010 the development of Reinhardt College lead to the establishment of Reinhardt University under his guidance,” continued Hasty. “He brought to the University a sense of commitment and integrity through his dedication to Christian values.”

Hasty’s sentiments included Isherwood’s wife, Bettye Jo, stating that she has been “the President’s advisor, counselor, comforter and sometimes critic, which has allowed him to accomplish goals he set for himself. Because of her strength of purpose and love of the people they serve, she gave up a successful career to fully support and encourage him. 

“Reinhardt University will continue to seek guidance from both these esteemed friends,” said Hasty. Therefore, it is my privilege to announce tonight that the Athletic Field House will become known as The J. Thomas  and Bettye Jo Isherwood Field House.”

10 Under 10 Alumni Awards

The 2014 10 Under 10 Alumni Award recipients were named. Each year Reinhardt recognizes a group of 10 alumni from the last 10 years (2004 - 2014) who are successful in business, the military, nonprofits, government, and/or the arts. A picture identifying each will hang in the Hasty Student Life Center as a reminder of what Reinhardt alumni have accomplished.  

Reinhardt 10 Under 10 for 2014
Reinhardt's 10 Under 10 Alumni Award recipients for 2014-2015 year.

The “10 Under 10” honored this year include (from left):

  • Miriam (Mimi) E. Rohlfs '04, a resident of  Acworth, Ga.
  • Jefferson A. Holt '05, a resident of  Acworth, Ga.
  • Emeka O. Ngonadi '05, a resident of Sterling, Va.
  • Courtney M. Byrd '11, a resident of Bronx, N.Y. (not pictured)
  • Cody T. Baker '06, a resident of Hiram, Ga. (not pictured)
  • William G. Cody '08, a resident of Palo Alto, Calif. (not pictured)
  • Anna E. Edenfield '10, a resident of Marietta, Ga.
  • Christopher R. Williams '10, a resident of  Loganville, Ga.
  • Elizabeth G. Gibson '10, a resident of Tate, Ga.
  • James M. Mroczko '11, a resident of Canton, Ga.

Ryan Satterfield ’95, president of the Reinhardt Alumni Board of Governors, presented these special awards.

John Wesley Laity and Clergy Awards

Following the 10 Under 10 presentation, the John Wesley Laity and Clergy Award recipients were named: John H. Bennett ’65 and Joy Bennett ’90, residents of Waleska, Ga., and The Rev. Dr. C.R. Hill, a resident of Canton, Ga. respectively. The Rev. Dr. Ron Flowers, president of the Reinhardt Ministerial Association, presented the awards.

The Wesley Award was established in 1991 to recognize a layperson who had made a significant contribution to United Methodist institutions of higher education and ministries. Two years later, the clergy award was added. These awards are named for John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.


John Wesley Laity Award: John H. Bennett ’65 and Joy Bennett ’90

John and Joy Bennett '65 '90 celebrate with their family in attendance at the Talon Awards Gala including Angie Bennett Ulm '90, son-in-law Brad and Amy Bennett Cox '99.
John and Joy Bennett '65 '90 (front, left) celebrate with their family in attendance at the Talon Awards Gala including Angie Bennett Ulm '90 (left, back), son-in-law Brad (right, back) and Amy Bennett Cox '99 (front, right).

The Bennetts are both Reinhardt alumni – John is a member of the class of 1965, and Joy is a member of the class of 1990. After receiving a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Georgia in 1967, John began a long career in the chicken and farming industry.  He is a member of the Appalachian Cattleman’s Association and the Georgia Poultry Federation.  His professional activities include service as Vice Chair of Amicalola EMC Board of Directors, Board of Directors for Oglethorpe Power Corporation and Past President of the Georgia Poultry Improvement Association.

John has been very active in the community with the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce and Canton Lions Club. As an alumnus, John served as Chair of the Alumni Board of Governors, Chair of The Board of Advisors, A DAY Chair and has been an active member of the Reinhardt Board Trustees since 2002 and served as Secretary for the Board until 2013.
Joy came to Reinhardt as a non-traditional student, working toward her degree after the Bennett’s 3 children were in school. She not only was a full-time mother and student, she worked as an Assistant in the President’s Office and volunteered her time to support many Reinhardt Family activities. She retired from Reinhardt in 2000 to become a full-time grandmother to her eight grandchildren. She has been and continues to be a positive role model for her children, her grandchildren and the many, many individuals who call her ‘friend’.  
John and Joy are active members of the Goshen Baptist Church – John for 60 years and Joy for 48 years.  John has been deacon for more than 30 years, and he is a former Sunday School teacher.  Both John and Joy are members of the choir and assist with youth activities. 

The Bennett Family has a long history with Reinhardt. John’s father and mother established the Bennett Family Museum at the Funk Heritage Center. All of John and Joy’s three children are Reinhardt alumni, one grandson is an alumnus and one grandson is a current student. At one time, the Alumni Office was able to document more than 50 Bennett Family members who attended Reinhardt Academy, Reinhardt College and Reinhardt University. It would be difficult to imagine a family more dedicated to this institution of Higher Education.

The John Wesley Clergy Award: The Rev. Dr. C. R. Hill

The Rev. Dr. C.R. Hill, John Wesley Laity Award recipient, presents the Honoree Award to Jim Jernigan.
The Rev. Dr. C.R. Hill received the John Wesley Laity Award. He also presented the Ministerial Honoree Award to the late James F. Jernigan.

Hill is an ordained Methodist Minister in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. He began his ministry following his tour of duty in the U.S. Army. Hill has an Associate of Arts degree from Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, Ga., and a BSED from the University of Georgia.  He received his Master and Doctor of Divinity degrees from Emory University Candler School of Theology.

Hill has served under appointment in pastoral ministry since 1963, having served twelve congregations, among them Peachtree Road in Atlanta and Conyers First UMC. As Senior Pastor of McDonough First UMC for 13 years, he led that congregation to grow in members by 100%. Under his leadership, Wesley Way UMC was established. During his 10 years of service at Canton First UMC, the congregation built a 900 seat worship center and educational complex.

He has served on the Methodist Board of Ordained Ministers, the Methodist Conference Committee on Global Ministries and Dean of the North Georgia School of Christian Missions. He served from 2001 – 2011 as an ex-officio member of the Reinhardt Board of Trustees and begins a new term as ex-officio Trustee member this year as  President of the Reinhardt Ministerial Association.

Among his many published articles and sermons are 3 books, “Between Two Worlds,”  “Light From Beyond the Veil” and “Through The Frosted Window.” Retired from active pastorate since 2011, Hill continues in ministry through service as Northside Hospital Chaplain in Canton, Georgia.

Hill and his wife, Jackie, celebrated 52 years of marriage in 2014.  They have two married children, three grandsons and one grand-daughter-in-law.

The Ministerial Association Honoree Award: the late James F. “Jim” Jernigan, Sr.

The daughter of the late James F. Jernigan, Jane
The daughter of the late James F. Jernigan, Jane Jernigan Wilson, and her husband, Chuck, accepted the award in her father's honor.

The Honoree Award was given to one special recipient this year: the late James F. “Jim” Jernigan, Sr. The Reverend Dr. James Mooneyhan ’66, elected to Reinhardt's Board of Trustees in 1992, recommended that Reinhardt's Ministerial Association create a Ministerial Honoree Scholarship Program. The Honoree Award recipients are identified by a selection committee as those persons whom they wish to honor and lift up to their students, faculty and staff - persons whose character epitomizes the “core values” taught at Reinhardt. The award was presented by The Rev. Dr. C.R. Hill.   

Jernigan worked at Reinhardt in the Church Relations Office for more than 20 years. A native of Atlanta, he was active his entire life in business, education and community affairs. He received a law degree from Emory University, where he excelled in sports, glee club and church work. He was a Flight Officer in the US Air Force, serving as Navigator.

He worked as Customer Relations Director for Sears Roebuck & Company for 20 years. During his time at Sears, he served the community on the Board of the Salvation Army, Wesley Homes, Inc., the Methodist Simpsonwood Conference Center and held leadership roles for the Metropolitan United Way, Atlanta Kiwanis Club and was Administrative Board Chair at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.

After retirement, Jim volunteered for the Atlanta Executive Service Corporation assisting with Marketing and Fund Raising, and for the Oral Health America organization, he created the Tobacco-Free-Kids event producing $50,000 annually. He also served as a consultant for the Lutheran Services of Georgia to help improve state-wide organization results.

At the time of his death, Jernigan served at Reinhardt as Church Relations Coordinator. He created and implemented the ‘Honoree Program,” served as a member of the Golf Classic and Ministerial Golf Committee and assisted with any event on which his expertise was required.

Jernigan's daughter, Jane Jernigan Wilson, and her husband, Chuck, accepted the award in Jernigan’s honor.

Entertainment Featured Student Performances

The evening also included performances by Reinhardt students pianist Katie Kemp, actor and vocal performer Joshua Baldwin, and the Men of ‘Hardt: Wesley Braselton, Andrew Smathers, Vince Buchanan, Brandon Sosebee, Dustin Maceikis, Cole Jones, Corey Mealer, Nick Griffo, Clark Cumbee, Justin Filson, Michael Vavases, Luke Roberson, T.J. Smith and Josh Lance.


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