Retired FHU Vice-President to Open School Year with Tolling of the Bell
Dr. J. Walker Whittle, vice president emeritus of Freed-Hardeman University, will be the Master of the Bell, Thursday, Aug. 25, when the university officially opens the 2012 school year with the annual Tolling of the Bell. The event will begin at 10:30 a.m. in Loyd Auditorium.
In addition to the tolling of the bell, students will be issued a challenge by Mark Castleberry, chairman of the FHU Board of Trustees. Lincoln Stemler, president of the Student Government Association, will respond to the challenge.
Whittle’s service to the university began in 1954 when he enrolled as a student but also taught courses in the business department and coached baseball, having already received a Bachelor of Arts from Mercer University and a Bachelor of Law from Macon Law School. He went on to complete a Master of Arts at George Peabody School of Education, Vanderbilt University and an MBA and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Mississippi. He chaired FHU’s Department of Business from 1958 until 1981. He also served the University as Director of Cooperative Education and Placement, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, Director of Alumni and College Relations, and Director of Congregational Support. He retired at the end of 1990, having served under three presidents and having helped to move the school from a junior college to a university offering graduate degrees.
A World War II veteran, Whittle served almost three years in the Pacific Theatre as a member of the U.S. Naval Seabees. In Chester County, he has served on a stream of civic boards and chaired various committees and boards. The list includes founding the Henderson Civitan Club, serving as Heart Fund chairman, directing the local chapter of the American Red Cross, and serving multiple times on the board of the Chester County Senior Citizens, Inc.
Whittle was married to the late Louise Cobb for 62 years. They had two daughters, Dwina Whittle Willis and Rosemary Whittle McKnight. Both they and his five grandchildren all graduated from Freed-Hardeman. He now has seven great-grandchildren who, he expects, will one day enroll at Freed-Hardeman.
Whittle has preached for various area churches for many years, including 17 years at the Scotts Hill Church of Christ and 13 years at the Red Walnut Church of Christ. He spoke on a weekly radio program for 15 years. After retiring at age 70, he began going to Russia to do mission work and to teach in their universities, institutes, and schools. He has taught in 22 Russian educational institutions with much of his work concentrated in Ufa, Russia. In all, he has made 14 trips to Russia. Last year, he went to New York City to work with a Korean congregation. Today, he remains in contact with churches in the Philippines, India, Russia, Africa, Korea, and the Americas, especially in his home state of Georgia through e-mail and FaceBook. At age 90, he shows no signs of stopping. For three years now, he has conducted a Monday night Bible class in his home for any who wish to come.
This year marks the 12th annual tolling of the bell. The “master” rings the bell once for each decade of Freed-Hardeman and her predecessors’ existence. The bell itself was brought to the campus from the Southern Tennessee Normal and Business Institute in Essary’s Springs, Tenn., where A.G. Freed had a school. The bell, manufactured circa 1900 by C.S. Bell Company in Hillsboro, Ohio, is made of an iron alloy.
The public is invited to attend the ceremony.