Edgar Graham Gammon

H-SC President, 1939-1955

Edgar Graham Gammon The classroom performance of Edgar Gammon 1905 was untouched by the talent and vigor he brought to everything else, including athletics, his fraternity, the YMCA, the year book, and the magazine. His hallmark in three sports was speed, and the nickname Rip stuck for life. After teaching school (including two years at the Virginia Asylum for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind), he attended Union Seminary and was ordained in 1911. His third pastorate was at College Church (1917-1923), where his distinctive bluntness did not prevent him from being a favorite with students, especially the athletes he helped to coach. He was given the College's D.D. in 1920. Having then served a church in Alabama, in 1927 he became the founding pastor of Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, which by 1939 was the largest and most splendidly housed congregation in the Southern Presbyterian Church. The Trustees had specified "a man of executive type, about forty years old" among the criteria for Dr. Eggleston's successor; old football team-mate Dr. Frank Johns 1908, the Chairman of the Board, was more concerned for the first qualification and put the finger on Dr. Gammon, then 55. The Charlotte News summarized universal sentiment in a eulogistic editorial headlined "A Superb Choice." By aggressively courting friends and foundations for direct and challenge grants, Dr. Gammon was able to take the endowment from about $350,000 (the smallest of any fully accredited college in the country) to over $1 million by 1948, despite the essentially fruitless years of World War II. In a typical irony another old team-mate, Admiral Luther Sheldon 1903 of the Navy Medical Corps, helped secure a V-12 Unit that kept the College open during the war, but bringing buildings and equipment up to Navy standards resulted in a net cost. One of this decidedly non-academic President's proudest moments came when his early goal of satisfying Phi Beta Kappa's standards for establishing a chapter was reached in 1949. Declining health curtailed but did not end his efforts, especially for endowment and faculty benefits, until, exhausted, he yielded to suggestions first made in 1950 and retired in 1955; he built a house within easy distance of the football and baseball fields, and died at home in 1962.