2010-11-12 / Society

NSDAR pays tribute to Mary Patterson Caldwell

Contributed by Edie Purvis–Cross

L–r seated: Charter member, Past Regent Julia Kraft Langford (USC Class of ’59), and Sue Pitts, Mary’s dear friend, SCDAR Chairman of Tours and Travel, who went with Mary to find her home place in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Standing: Terry Dixon, USC Journalism School director of development; Dr. Betty Guerry, Chapter Good Citizen’s chairman; Lou Kennedy, former student; Julie Petoskey Smoak (USC Class of ’59), charter member; Chaplain Gina McCuen, commemorative events chairman and founder and owner of Snelling Personnel Services, Columbia and Lexington; Immediate Past Regent Jean Arrants who completed Mary’s term as regent and is credited with saving the portrait; Edie Purvis–Cross past regent, SCDAR chairman public relations and media (USC Class of ’79); and Dean Charles Bierbauer, College of Mass Communications and Information Studies. L–r seated: Charter member, Past Regent Julia Kraft Langford (USC Class of ’59), and Sue Pitts, Mary’s dear friend, SCDAR Chairman of Tours and Travel, who went with Mary to find her home place in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Standing: Terry Dixon, USC Journalism School director of development; Dr. Betty Guerry, Chapter Good Citizen’s chairman; Lou Kennedy, former student; Julie Petoskey Smoak (USC Class of ’59), charter member; Chaplain Gina McCuen, commemorative events chairman and founder and owner of Snelling Personnel Services, Columbia and Lexington; Immediate Past Regent Jean Arrants who completed Mary’s term as regent and is credited with saving the portrait; Edie Purvis–Cross past regent, SCDAR chairman public relations and media (USC Class of ’79); and Dean Charles Bierbauer, College of Mass Communications and Information Studies. The University of South Carolina Chapter, National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) presented the portrait of Professor Emeritus Mary Patterson Caldwell to Dean Charles Bierbauer of the USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications following the announcement of her $600,000 bequest, at the 2010 Alumni Awards Dinner on Thursday, November 4, at the Capital City Club in Columbia, SC.

This portrait of Professor Emeritus Mary Patterson Caldwell reflects the image of a lovely young lady, probably 20 years old, who had no idea what her future would hold. She never dreamed that she would retire in 2000 from the USC School of Journalism or become the sequence chair in public relations.

As a professor, she was loved by her students, and known as “the Martha Stewart in residence” of the faculty because she loved to entertain. After her retirement, she traveled extensively, and most recently, enjoyed going with a friend to find the place where she was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Mary was a happy person, pleased with her success in life, comfortably situated in a lovely home which she enjoyed to the fullest. Relatively healthy, although she had diabetes, Mary loved life. She was looking forward to having her bridge club on Sunday, August 29, 2009. The house was in order, the refreshments were ready, but this was not to be—Mary’s life ended. When her friends came to the door, she did not answer.

Make no mistake, Mary’s affairs were in order. She had thoughtfully prepared her last will and testament—generously remembering the J–School—where she taught for 21 years. However, her greatest legacy lives on in the knowledge she gave to the hundreds of students she inspired in their careers in public relations such as Lu Kennedy, CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals in Orlando, Florida. who eulogized her favorite professor so thoughtfully, “as her greatest inspiration.”

As a living legacy, the University of South Carolina Chapter, NSDAR presented her portrait, which was literally saved from the auction block, in loving memory of Mary Patterson Caldwell, who was chapter regent from 2006 until her untimely death.

Return to top